08 February 2006

Don’t put Clemenceau and Norway in same category:

Letter To The Editor:

SIR, I write in response to the continuing attention by the media and non-governmental organisations on efforts to recycle the Clemenceau and the SS Norway.

These ships are being lumped into a single category of “what is wrong with ship recycling”. Further inspection, however, shows a significant difference in the efforts of the two ownership groups to engage in responsible ship recycling for their respective vessels. 


The Clemenceau has received the lion’s share of attention in the media, and various nations have bowed to politics and responded by making irrational decisions, disallowing the ship to even enter their territorial waters. But what steps have actually taken place, amid the controversy and confusion, to ensure that the Clemenceau is recycled in a responsible manner?

First, the French government performed, at least some, pre-cleaning work and removed significant amounts of asbestos from the ship. Questions remain as to the amount of asbestos remaining, but some level of remediation has occurred. 

French Warship - The Clemenceau
Next, the ship was sold for recycling at Alang, with a reported additional involvement of an environmental engineering firm that is to be involved in further remediation and disposal of hazardous materials at Alang.

Despite NGO claims that Alang has “no facility for handling of PCBs, etc” (‘Clemenceau likely to contain cancer-causing PCBs’; newKarala.com), the Gujarat Maritime Board launched a new hazardous waste reception facility in 2005, specifically for the treatment and disposal of such materials near Alang.

In summary, the French government has:

1) Performed some level of remediation work to clean the Clemenceau of asbestos, and
2) Sold the ship to a shipyard that has reported the involvement of an environmental remediation firm to handle additional hazardous materials from the ship upon arrival. If proper reporting and project transparency are involved in the latter stages of this operation, it would appear that this project is being developed, theoretically, in an environmentally and occupationally responsible manner.

SS Norway:

According to Greenpeace, the SS Norway is known to hold approximately 1,200 tons of asbestos and will surely hold significant amounts of PCBs and other hazardous materials.

To date, no reports have been made as to any agreements for the proper removal and disposal of these hazardous materials. The fate of the Norwayis yet unknown, so the possibility exists that proper remediation work may eventually occur.

However, to date this is not the case. So why is all the attention then focused on Clemenceau and almost nothing on Norway?

One owner has apparently made significant strides toward responsible ship recycling and the other appears to have made no effort whatsoever to reach this goal. Secondly, one ship allegedly has almost 40 times more asbestos than the other. Yet, the world seems to be silent. Could it be that western governments make soft, juicy targets?

While intense pressure from NGOs have led to increased awareness on ship recycling as a whole, strides to actually conduct responsible ship recycling in India should be recognised as such, and not merely discarded as more of the same.

Ted Higson, Consultant, Global Ship Recycling Solutions LLC, United States

Source: Llyoid’s List. LetterToTheEditor. By Ted Higson. 8 February 2006  

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