22 July 2012

American ship cleared for Alang beaching:

AHMEDABAD: Gujarat Maritime Board has cleared beaching of American ship Exxon Valdez (MV Oriental N) at Alang after inspections following objections by environmental groups.

No objectionable material was found during a series of inspections by pollution control authority, customs and safety directorate, GMB said in an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court. The ship was checked for contents and quantity of asbestos, oil, nuclear materials.

Environment activists said the ship was not decontaminated as per the court's guidelines and should not be allowed to beach at Alang. "It is just like any other ship. We have checked it thoroughly and submitted a detailed affidavit," an official from the state's maritime regulator told ET. The Supreme Court has asked GMB to decide on Exxon Valdez's anchoring and beaching.

Dismantling can be done as per the court's September 6, 2009, directions. The rules mandate that ships should be decontaminated thoroughly before being brought to India's shores. Deep sea inspections were carried out by Gujarat Maritime Board, Gujarat Pollution Control Boards, Customs authorities and Safety Directorate. "We have given the ship a nod for beaching. Our inspectors have ascertained that the amount of hazardous content is as per the prescribed guidelines," GPCB chairman, KU Mistry told ET.

Rules were framed in 2007 for dismantling of ships, following SC's orders. These rules mandate that ships should be allowed to beach only after a collective nod by pollution control authorities, maritime regulator and customs authorities.

Exxon Valdez came in limelight in the year 1989, when it spilled almost 10.9 million gallons of its 53 million gallon cargo of Prudhoe Bay crude oil, considered at that time as the largest oil spill in US waters. Its then owner, Exxon Mobil Company, paid damages worth $3.5 billion to the affected persons and US authorities.

The ship's current owner, Bhavnagar-based Best Oasis Ltd, has brought it into Gujarat's waters near Alang Ship Breaking yard at Bhavnagar in Gujarat. Following the affidavit of GMB, the Supreme Court will take a final call whether to allow the ship to get beached or not.

Source: economic times. By Himanshu Darji. 7 July 2012

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