From: Reuters
Published June 6, 2006 12:00 AM

Indian Court Allows 'Toxic' Ship to Drop Anchor

NEW DELHI — India's Supreme Court on Monday allowed a former cruise liner that environmental activists say contains toxic asbestos to enter Indian waters, but said it could only be scrapped once it was declared safe.

Greenpeace and other groups say the 46,000-tonne Blue Lady, which is sailing for the Alang shipbreaking yard in the western state of Gujarat to be dismantled, contains more than 900 tonnes of asbestos.

Activists say Indian yards lack the modern technology to safely handle such waste, putting the health of workers at risk.

While refusing to ban the ship, the court said customs and port authorities would verify the amount of contaminants on board and report their findings to it.

A decision would then be made on whether work on scrapping the vessel could be carried out safely at the Indian yard.

In February, the French government recalled the former aircraft carrier Clemenceau headed for Alang after a lengthy campaign by Greenpeace, which said the ship carried toxic waste.

A Greenpeace report published in December said thousands of workers in the ship-breaking industry in countries such as India, China and Pakistan had probably died over the past two decades in accidents or due to exposure to toxic waste.

Source: Reuters

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