French Defense Minister Confident about Indian Court Decision on Dismantling Warship
PARIS France's defense minister expressed confidence Tuesday that India's Supreme Court would allow a decommissioned French warship into Indian waters despite a debate over the waste it carries.
Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie, responding to questions from French lawmakers, said she was "waiting calmly and with confidence for the decision by the Indian Supreme Court."
The court barred the warship from entering Indian territorial waters until experts determine whether the ship is carrying hazardous waste. The court is expected to decide Feb. 13 whether to allow the Clemenceau into the Indian port of Alang for dismantling.
Environmental groups say the Clemenceau is carrying hundreds of tons of hazardous waste, including 500 tons of asbestos.
Alliot-Marie said the Indian court had requested further documents on the ship and that France would comply. "They should not fail to convince the Supreme Court," she said.
The ministry said most of the Clemenceau's asbestos was removed before the vessel left France, but some had to be left in place to let the ship make the journey to India without disintegrating. The asbestos is used as internal paneling, integral to the ship's design, the ministry said.
Environmental groups have demanded that France decontaminate the ship first, since workers in Alang use bare hands and hand tools to break up the ship, exposing them to any hazardous materials it contains.
The ship was allowed to pass through the Suez Canal after being held up for three days because Egypt demanded documentation to prove it is free of harmful substances.
Source: Associated Press