07 August 2012

Indian court adheres to Basel treaty on Exxon Valdez ship:

The Indian Supreme Court has allowed Indian shipbreakers to dismantle a ship that had spilled crude near the Alaskan coast in 1989, provided they follow international rules on toxic material disposal -- a move termed as "groundbreaking" by a Brussel-based environmental group.

The court on July 30 allowed the breaking apart of the vessel, formerly called Exxon Valdez and now known as the Oriental Nicety, provided the ship's owner pays for disposal of toxic materials on board.

The court also stated that ships containing hazardous materials, such as asbestos, must follow the Basel Convention rules on global movements of hazardous wastes. The Basel Convention is an international treaty enacted in 1989 to prevent dumping of toxic waste in developing countries.
The ruling means that India must first be notified as to all hazardous materials contained on-board and must approve of ship scrapping prior to the vessel's arrival in India, Brussels-based Ship-breaking Platform said in a statement Wednesday.

"Finally, the Supreme Court in India has dragged its government to face the fact that India for a long time has been violating international law with respect to its uncontrolled imports of toxic ships for scrapping on its beaches. It will no longer be able to do so," said Basel Action Network director Jim Puckett.

The single-hulled Exxon Valdez that had spilled millions of barrels of crude near Alaska's Prince William Sound 23 years ago, will be torn apart at the Alang ship-breaking yard in the Indian state of Gujarat.

The old spillage from the Exxon Valdez had caused huge environmental damage to the area causing death to marine life and affected the local fishing industry.

The Exxon Valdez incident had prompted the oil shipping market to embrace double-hull tankers more as these vessels were considered better equipped to minimise spillage.

Meanwhile, the Oriental Nicety, which had entered the Indian waters in May to be scrapped, has been inspected by the Gujarat Maritime Board.

The maritime authority has told the court that "there was no sign of any kind of hazardous/toxic substance on board" with the ship being converted from an oil tanker into a bulk carrier in September 2008.

The ship's current owners, Priya Blue Industries, said Tuesday that they would abide by the ruling and bear costs for removing toxic substances from the ship. A representative of the company could not be reached Thursday for further comment.

Source: By Zameer Yusof (zameer_yusof@platts.com). 2 August 2012

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