Press Release

Indian Platform on Shipbreaking

B-1/66, Ist floor Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi-110067

Press Release

Evidence of Radioactive Material on Blue Lady

25 July, 2007

New Delhi: New evidence submitted by the former project manager of SS Norway reveals that the toxic ship-for-scrap renamed Blue Lady and currently anchored 4000 feet off Alang coast has radioactive material on board in at least 5500 fire detection points. Americium 241 – a radioactive substance – concentrates in the bone, liver and muscle and can expose surrounding tissues to radiation, thereby increasing the risk of cancer. Ironically, this finding was made months after the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Technical Experts (CTE) opined “the presence of radioactive materials in a passenger ship like “Blue Lady” is quite unlikely.”

“The new evidence exposes the shoddy state of science in this country. A body of experts appointed by the apex Court of the country confidently, and without evidence, rules on a subject that has far-ranging implications on worker health and environment.”

Supreme Court in the matter of Ship Breaking dealing with “Decontamination of ships before they are exported to India for breaking”, has specifically directed that “Before a ship arrives at port, it should have proper consent from the authority concerned or the State Maritime Board, stating that it does not contain any hazardous waste or radioactive substances. AERB should be consulted in the matter in appropriate cases.” There has been no compliance of these directions in the case of Blue Lady. No one has been punished for this lapse till date.

“The ship admittedly contains more than 1200 tons of asbestos, significant quantities of carcinogenic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other heavy-metal-laden substances. Export of such ships to non-OECD countries violates the Basel Convention. However, India has refused to challenge such imports despite the abysmal environment and safety record at its ship-breaking yard in Alang.”

The Final Report of CTE submitted to the apex court notes, “the average annual incidence of fatal accidents in ship breaking industry is 2.0 per 1000 workers while the All India incidence of fatal accidents during the same period in mining industry, which is considered to be the most accident prone industries, is 0.34per 1000 workers.”

The Final Report also notes of asbestos victims in the ship-breaking industry and cites the “Medical Examination of the Asbestos Handlers” by a team of National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH) that concludes, “ The X ray examination by NIOH showed linear shadows on chest X rays of 15 (16 %) of 94 workers occupationally exposed to asbestos. These are consistent with asbestosis…” but has failed to recommend any compensation as is required as per court’s directions.

“In such a context the imminent contamination from Americium-241 can occur to people/workers who work at or near a contaminated side through ingestion of food and water, or by inhalation is alarming.” When inhaled, some Americium-241 remains in the lungs, depending upon the particle size and the chemical form of the Americium compound. The chemical forms that dissolve easily may pass into the bloodstream from the lungs. The chemical forms that dissolve less easily tend to remain in the lungs, or are coughed up through the lung's natural defense system, and swallowed. From the stomach, swallowed Americium may dissolve and pass into the bloodstream.

That Americium-241 poses a significant risk if ingested (swallowed) or inhaled. It can stay in the body for decades and continue to expose the surrounding tissues to both alpha and gamma radiation, increasing the risk of developing cancer. Americium-241 also poses a cancer risk to all organs of the body from direct external exposure to its gamma radiation. Neither the Dismantling Plan submitted by the buyers of the ship nor any of the Reports/Affidavits by the Technical Committee or Environment Ministry envisage safe removal/destruction of such radioactive substances contained in the Blue Lady.

For details: H Mahadevan (AITUC), 9818120885, P K Ganguly (CITU), 9968214082, Gopal Krishna (Platform on Shipbreaking), 9818089660


Comments

Anonymous said…
Will the Blue Lady do a Le Clemenceau?

Despite the confirmed presence of toxic waste on-board the Blue Lady, currently beached at the Alang shipbreaking yard, there appears to be a consensus among key officials in Gujarat and New Delhi to allow the ship's dismantling. 19 February at the Supreme Court will be yet another litmus test, writes Gopal Krishna.

17 February 2007 - On 19 February, the Supreme Court of India will hear the matter of the toxic ship Blue Lady, beached at the Alang port, Gujarat. It will use the final report of its Technical Committee on Shipbreaking during the hearing, to make a decision on whether the Blue Lady must be sent back, or allowed to be dismantled.

The Blue Lady, formerly S S Norway. Pic: Kaushal Trivedi, © P K Productions 2006.

As reported last year, the 315-metre long and 46,000-tonne, 11-storey Blue Lady (formerly S S Norway) left the port of Malaysia for Dubai for 'repairs' in May 2006 and later sailed towards Alang, Gujarat, for shipbreaking. According to the then ship's owner (and breaker) Rajiv Reniwal of Haryana Ship Demolitions Pvt. Ltd., the ship contains 1240 MT of asbestos containing materials (ACM), and also polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a neurotoxin. But the ship carries neither documents required as per international law, nor a complete inventory of its hazardous wastes. I had filed an application last year in the Supreme Court asking the court to ensure that the ship complied with international law, national law and the court's own order of 2003 on import of hazardous wastes.

In response to arguments from the government that the ship and its crew would be stranded in the monsoons, the apex court had allowed the Blue Lady to anchor off Alang on 'humanitarian grounds', and did not permit beaching and dismantling.

The events that have unfolded since then are indicative of a consensus among officials in state and central governments to allow the illegal beaching and dismantling of the ship. Despite the confirmed presence of toxic waste on-board, and the ship's owners not submitting the requisite documents as per Indian and international law, the ship was allowed to beach at Alang on 15 August 2006. What happened?

Allowing the ship in any cost

First, even after permission to anchor the ship in territorial waters off Alang port was granted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) in June 2006, the ship surprisingly turned around. It was towed for docking at Fujairah at the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for two days before again being towed back to the edge of Indian territorial waters. At the end of June last year, the ship anchored 35 nautical miles away from Alang at Pipavav Port.

In the meantime, the Supreme Court's Technical Committee looking into the matter has said in its report: "For obtaining beaching permission, the recycler has to submit documents as per Annexure 1 of the GMB (Gujarat Maritime Board) Notification dated 5th July, 2003." (These are documents relating to the ship, required by law.) But separately, on 1 August 2006, M Subba Rao, an Additional Director at the MoEF (not a member of the Technical Committee), wrote to the GMB asking it to proceed further for according the beaching permission to Blue Lady.

And by then, the ship had changed owners! Haryana Ship Demolitions Ltd. sold the ship to Priya Blue Shipping Ltd. for 16 million US dollars, reported the Business Standard. The ship itself remained anchored off Alang.

Not soon after, on 3 August, the GMB's port officer A K Rathore sent a letter to the ship's new owners Priya Blue requiring documents from Priya Blue as a condition to beaching. Records show that Priya Blue did not fulfil those conditions. And yet, on 15 August 2006, the Blue Lady moved in and beached at Alang, approximately 4000 feet away from the shore. Port officer Rathore had gone ahead and permitted the ship to beach. It appears this happened with the approval of Subba Rao at New Delhi/MoEF.

Not all quarters in government were happy with the ship being let in, especially with the sudden change of ownership. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment and Forests, had raised questions on the permissibility of Blue Lady. In response, M Subba Rao, wrote on 15 September to P G Narayanan, Chairman of the standing committee. Rao stated, "The beaching permission given by the Technical Committee was for the ship 'Blue Lady'. There is no mention of the name of any owner of the ship in our communication dated 1.8.2006." In other words, Rao was arguing that the permission was given the ship, not to its owners!

Also, in a separate development, Gopal Subramaniam, the Additional Solicitor General advised the Technical Committee to go ahead and recommend breaking of the ship, according to minutes of proceedings at the committee.

On 4 December 2006, Justices Arijit Pasayat and S H Kapadia at the Supreme Court took note of the impermissibility of the entry of the ship. They asked Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) to "find out if there is any scope for sending back the vessel after beaching." They also wrote that the petitioner would be permitted to place his objection before the GPCB. Sanjay Parikh, counsel for the case, informed the GPCB on 26 December that if the Blue Lady was broken up, it would be in complete violation of the law.

Following our presentation before the GPCB, in the face of incontrovertible proof of dereliction of duty by the concerned officials in letting in the ship, Sanjiv Tyagi, Member Secretary, GPCB said, "we did not know this 'lady' would give us so much pain". Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) official Atul Sharma gasped for words when Tyagi and K D Choudhary, a member of the Technical Committee confronted him with the letter of 3 August sent by their colleague A K Rathore, which Rathore himself violated in letting the ship in. On condition of anonymity, a GMB official revealed that junior GMB officers were under tremendous pressure from a senior Union Environment Ministry official to act the way they did.

The law, for what it is worth

The 2003 Judgment of the Supreme Court on the importing of hazardous wastes was based on the report of the M G K Menon Committee, the High Powered Committee on Hazardous Wastes. The committee had noted that the ships were broken in India in a totally environmentally unsound way and that the working conditions of the workmen were appalling. It recommended that ships destined for ship-breaking on India's coast ought to be decontaminated at source.

The Supreme Court, after considering the Menon Committee report, gave detailed directions making it mandatory for:

1. Prior decontamination of ships,
2. The quantity of hazardous and non-hazardous category should be made known to the concerned authority,
3. Disposal of waste should be done in environmentally sound manner,
4. Special care to be taken in the handling of hazardous waste and radioactive substances,
5. Complete inventory of hazardous waste on board of ship mandatory for the ship owner
6. Landfill sites and incinerators to be prepared as per the CPCB guidelines and the time allowed for the same was one year.

Further, the Hazardous Wastes Rules of 2003 completely ban the import of waste asbestos and wastes containing PCBs/PCTs. The obligation under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants which India has ratified is to prohibit entry of wastes containing PCBs, because it cannot be managed in an environmentally sound manner at present. There is no facility in India that is capable of meeting the requirements set under the Stockholm Convention.

All of these conditions have been violated in the beaching permission of the Blue Lady. The ship did not submit any document seeking permission for ship breaking. No such document has been either processed as per the provisions of law or directions of the Supreme Court. India has had no prior official information about this ship seeking entry in our territorial waters, none for the purpose of ship-breaking. The ship entered in the territorial waters on humanitarian grounds.

Reacting to the developments of last year, Professor Menon, presently the Dr Vikram Sarabhai Distinguished Professor of the Indian Space Research Organisation, wrote to the Chief Justice of India on 14 August 2006. He stated that "any effort to dilute the Supreme Court orders of 14 October 2003 to try to remove the concept of prior decontamination would be a measure going against the interests of workers in the ship-breaking yards as also the violation of the Basel Convention." He also noted that would be a violation by both Malaysia and India who are signatories to the Convention.

Cutting across party lines, select politicians had also raised questions on the action of Indian environmental authorities last year. Basudev Acharya, senior parliamentarian and leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) presented a petition in the Lok Sabha on 25 August 2006 requesting to enquire about the role of authorities in permitting the entry of the Blue Lady. Earlier on 17 May 2006, Kalraj Mishra, Member of Parliament (BJP) demanded in the the Rajya Sabha that the "Government to stop this toxicated (sic) ship to enter the territory of India and to formulate a ship breaking policy keeping in view the environmental aspect."

The original hoodwinking: Germany and Norway

Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL), the ship's owner ensured its departure from the port of Bremerhaven, Germany on 23 May 2005 by misinforming the German authorities. This is a criminal offense in Germany and has dragged Germany and India into becoming participants in violating international law. Recently uncovered evidence confirms that as far back as 2004, Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) and its mother company, Star Cruises Ltd (SCL), misled Germany by declaring that the vessel was going to Asia for re-use. The same happened in Malaysia, which is when the Blue Lady's India-saga began.

Environmental, labour and human rights groups have strongly recommended that Norwegian Cruise Lines and Star Cruises Ltd. must be held accountable by instituting criminal and civil actions against them for illegally exporting Blue Lady by misrepresentation to German authorities, and for any harm that will arise by their willful disposal of the toxic wastes left on board.

Efforts are on in Germany to take Star Cruise Ltd. to task for its act. The NGO Platform on Ship breaking based in Brussels is seeking recall of the ship asking the German authorities to hold Star Cruises accountable. It has further called upon Germany, the exporting state, to comply with its Basel Convention obligations and re-call the vessel but German authorities have not acted so far. The European Commission has asked Germany and India to explain their respective positions with regard to the Blue Lady.

It may be noted that a German inspection team had earlier confirmed the presence of airborne asbestos in several decks of the Blue Lady along with other toxins such as PCBs, Cadmium, Azocolourants, Chromium compounds, Mercury compounds, Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDE), Polybrominated Biphenyls (PBB's), Tributyls, Heavy Metals and other hazardous substances.

What is ironic, and indicative of the malaise that ails the Indian environmental bureaucracy is the statement by the new purchaser Priya Blue on its in website: "Western countries have very high standards of safety which calls for costly measures for ensuring safety. Hence, ship-breaking industry has been diverted from western countries to India…"

Ball in the Supreme Court

The Blue Lady's worth of 16 million dollars as scrap is less than it would cost to remove the asbestos, if international and Indian environmental regulations were followed. The Supreme Court is aware of the fact that the Alang shipyard does not have the facility to deal with hazardous wastes and related substances, and that this endangers the occupational health and safety of the casual and contract workers.

The final report of the Technical Committee and the GPCB has been submitted to the Supreme Court. The matter rests now with the apex court. ⊕

http://www.indiatogether.org/cgi-bin/tools/pfriend.cgi

On 19th February, 2007, Justice S.H. Kapadia said, "It is a Public Interest Litigation. The main matter is listed for final hearing on 12th March, 2007. In that matter one of the main issue which arises for consideration is the norms to be laid down in the matter of ship breaking. The main matter has been appearing before the Bench presided over by Dr. Arijit Pasayat, J. In the circumstances office is directed to list this I.A.No.34 of 2006 after two weeks since it is contended on behalf of the applicant that the said matter is of some urgency. Reply to be filed by the petitioner within one week.” The order came because Additional Solicitor General of India argued on behalf of the private party Priya Blue Shipping Pvt Ltd.

26th February, 2007: Blue Lady case came up for hearing before a Special Bench of Justice Pasayat and Justice Kapadia that fixed the next date of hearing for 12 March, 2007 along with the entire issue of ship-breaking. The court asked the parties to file their suggestions for worker’s safety by 8th March, 2007.

Blue Lady case seems to have become a asbestos case. And if the court court gives a ruling in the coming days on the safe use and/or re-use of asbestos, it will have huge ramifications nationally and internationally. One, the ongoing ban asbestos case in the court will become pre-judged. Two, it would set a very bad precedent given the fact that the court is also hearing the case of likely asbestos exposure to 30, 000 villagers in Gujarat. The next date of hearing of the Blue Lady case is on 26 July, 2007
Anonymous said…
Chronology of events around the illegal traffic of hazardous wastes in the shape of toxic ship "Blue Lady" (S S Norway, S S France)

The entry of Blue Lady in the Indian waters and the subsequent developments shows violation of Basel Convention on trans-boundary movement of hazardous wastes, breach of October 2003 Order of the Supreme Court and perpetuation of illegalities:

24 March, 2006: R K Vaish, Joint Secretary, Union Ministry of Environment and Forests issued an order dated 24th March for the “Constitution of a Committee of Technical Experts with respect to the directions of the Supreme Court of India dated 17.2.2006 in the matter of W.P. (C) No. 657 of 1995 on Management of Hazardous Wastes” appointing Dr Prodipto Ghosh, Secretary, Union Ministry of Environment and Forests as the Chairman of the Committee with Chairman, Central Pollution Control Board, Union Ministry of Environment and Forests as its Member Convenor. As per the Terms of Reference of the Committee, it was supposed to submit its report to the Supreme Court within eight weeks.

8th March, 2006: Dr Prodipto Ghosh, Chairman, Technical Experts Committee on Management of Hazardous Wastes relating to Ship breaking and Secretary, Ministry of Environment informed the Committee members about the task assigned to it by the Supreme Court. The objective of the Committee pertained to review of regulatory regime for environmental protection, workers safety and health relating to the ship breaking industry. By the committee met for the first time out of the eight weeks allotted to it, five weeks had already elapsed. In its first meeting it decided to seek 12 weeks from 8th March through Additional Solicitor General of India. Dr Ghosh in the first meeting itself underlined that “since the ships are meant for recycling, the same are not to be considered as wastes”. This betrayed his ignorance of Basel Convention and its Article 2.1 of the Convention that defines waste as “substances or objects which are disposed of or are intended to be disposed of or are required to be disposed of by the provisions of national law….” Basel Convention’s Parties and legal experts in October 2004, at the Seventh Conference of the Parties, when in Decision VII/26 states: “Noting that a ship may become waste as defined in article 2 of the Basel Convention and that at the same time it may be defined as a ship under other international rules…”

8th March, 2006: Prof. S C Misra of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur & Member, Technical Experts Committee on Management of Hazardous Wastes relating to Ship breaking and Prof. Anantha Subramaniam of IIT, Madras & Member Technical Experts Committee on Management of Hazardous Wastes relating to Ship breaking were asked by Dr Prodipto Ghosh to make brief presentation on the structure of ships, their propulsion and what hazardous substances it actually contains for the benefit of all other members.

As per the minutes of this First Meeting of the Technical Experts Committee on Management of Hazardous Wastes relating to Ship breaking, “It was also mentioned that bearings used in a ship are made of alloys containing about 75 percent of the lead and 25 percent of antimony, which also contribute to the toxic wastes generated from ships. The used lube oil also contains some toxic metals as it comes in contact with the bearings, etc.”

8th March, 2006: The presentations made by Prof. S C Misra and Prof. Anantha Subramaniam have not been annexed in the Final report of the Technical Experts Committee on Management of Hazardous Wastes relating to Ship breaking. As per the minutes of this First Meeting of this Committee, “In oil tanks also, some cleaning chemicals are used which are toxic. For such chemicals, International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) codes are used. It was also indicated that paints used in old ships also contain Lead and Polychlorinated Biphenyles (PCBs) which are hazardous materials.” They had presented a brief note to the Committee members. This note is not available on records.

As per the same minutes of the Committee, senior naval officers explained to this committee, “The used lead acid batteries also generate considerable quantity of recyclable hazardous waste. It was also mentioned that when the ships are destined for breaking, they are poorly maintained in their past few voyages with regard to balastic tanks, sewage tanks, incinerators, power generation and distribution, etc., thereby generating a large quantity of hazardous waste.” They had presented a brief note to the Committee members. This note is not available on records.

“The representative of the Ministry of Steel made a presentation on the action initiated/taken by them as per decisions taken in the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) meetings with regard to personal protective equipments etc., and also about the present status of infrastructure at the Alang ship breaking yard. A detailed note sent by the Ministry of Steel in this regard was circulated to all the members.” This note is not available on records.

May 3, 2006: Members of the Technical Experts Committee on Management of Hazardous Wastes relating to Ship breaking visited Alang on 2nd May. And the committee held its Second Meeting on 3rd May under the Chairmanship of Prodipto Ghosh. As per the minutes of the meeting, H K Dash, CEO of the Gujarat Maritime Board informed the committee, “Treatment, Storage & Disposal Facility (TSDF) has been developed for treatment and disposal of hazardous wastes generated at Alang. However, the same is yet to be commissioned.”

As per the minutes of the meeting, “The then Chairman, Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) mentioned that Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) of the Alang area alongwith health risk assessment may be done by the GMB.”

The minutes point out that “the Deputy Director, Department of Industrial Safety & Health, mentioned that regular medical check-ups of asbestos workers are proposed to be done by NIOH, Ahmedabad. It was suggested that skilled workers for asbestos handling may be given proper training and placed under special category of skilled workers…”. It was pointed out that not wearing of the Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs) is the main cause leading to fatal accidents.

The Committee made a visit to the training center developed by GMB. At the training center, “The workers mentioned that in some of the yards PPEs were given to them only at the time of inspection by some officials and thereafter they were taken back by the shipbreakers…”

A Chatterjee, Additional Director General of Shipping “also mentioned that it is desirable to develop some capability by GMB for testing radioactive materials. The future plan of action of GMB may include this aspect”.

The minutes of the committee to its interaction with Pravin Nagarsheth, President, Iron Steel Scrap & Ship Breakers’ Association of India wherein the latter mentioned that “the ships built after 1985 contain no asbestos”. Nagarsheth “mentioned that under Ferrous Scrap Committee, about Rs 100 crores of corpus fund is available which could be utilized beneficially for developing a labour colony and other necessary welfare measures for ship breaking workers”. Revealing the current status of hazardous wastes management, the minutes say “With regard to the issue of disposal of hazardous wastes into TSDF, it was mentioned that the same is pending because the GPCB is yet to take a decision regarding the rates of treatment of wastes.”

“It was also observed that there is no proper registration/ record of workers and their permanent addresses. Hence, the benefits of insurance in case of casualty may not be reaching the right person to whom it was supposed to reach.” This is indeed true.

The minutes note, “It was informed that there are about 100 workers in all the plots put together who are having experience and expertise in removal of asbestos.” The expertise being mentioned is at variance with the suggestion made by the official from Department of Industrial Safety & Health who suggested “skilled workers for asbestos handling may be given proper training and placed under special category of skilled workers the workers”. It further notes the concerns of the workers, “They also mentioned that the workers have neither any association nor any union for the last 24 years.”

It is noteworthy that the Chairman of the Committee, Prodipto Ghosh, “requested to provide information on the deaths registered due to accidents and serious diseases due to ship breaking activity at Alang for at least 3 years.”

As per the minutes of the committee, Gujarat Enviro Protection and Infrastructure Ltd (GEPIL), the TSDF operator also made a submission. “The representative of GEPIL mentioned that they have been given a contract for one year for operation of a TSDF at Alang by GMB.” GEPIL is the same agency, which has been referred to by both Hariyana Ship Demolitions Pvt Ltd and Priya Blue Shipping Pvt Ltd (purchasers of Blue Lady). Shree Ram Scrap Vessels Pvt. Ltd, the so-called purchaser of Le Clemenceau had also GEPIL for handling hazardous wastes.
In the Clemenceau case, the GMB had appointed GEPIL to visit France and submit a report on the hazardous material on the ship. The work of operation of TSDF is outsourced by GMB to GEPIL.
5 May, 2006: Blue Lady left Malaysia on 5 May, 2005. A letter issued by Malaysian authorities states that the ship was going to Dubai for repair, presumably based on a declaration by the ship's owners. But this was misleading, as the ship was in fact headed towards India. The ship has made several attempts to reach scrap yards, including an aborted attempt late last year when the Bangladesh Government prohibited it from entering the country on health and environmental grounds.
12 May, 2006: An application (IA 29) was filed by the applicant Gopal Krishna in the Supreme Court to ensure that the ship is not allowed entry in violation of the existing directions of the Supreme Court dated 14.10.2003. The Court issued notices to the concerned authorities including the Technical Experts Committee on Management of Hazardous Wastes relating to Ship breaking headed by Prodipto Ghosh, Secretary, Union Environment Ministry.

13 May, 2006: Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) barred the entry of Blue Lady in the Indian Territorial waters.

15 May, 2006: Rajeev Reniwal, Hariyana Ship Demolitions Pvt Ltd wrote to Dr Prodipto Ghosh, Chairman, Technical Experts Committee on Management of Hazardous Wastes relating to Ship breaking saying “we are surprised and shocked to learn that Government of India has directed the concerned authorities to retrain (restrain) the ship “Blue Lady” from entering Indian territorial waters on the basis of orders passed by the Honourabel (honorable) Supreme Court of India, without giving any prior opportunity of being heard to the affected parties.” He further said, “it is our request that the ship should be allowed to come up to Anchorage at Alang/Sosiya”. He said the cost of holding the ship with the two tugs that is towing her is 30, 000 US dollars per day. He gave an undertaking saying, “ In case the committee decides not to allow the ship for breaking at Alang, then we hereby undertake to tow the ship away into international water, which can be done with ease”. In his letter to the Committee Reniwal did not disclose his relationship with the ship named Blue Lady. The letter had six annexures none of them has ever been submitted to the court.

17 May, 2006: Hariyana Ship Demolitions Pvt Ltd wrote an unsigned letter to Dr Prodipto Ghosh, Chairman Technical Experts Committee on Management of Hazardous Wastes relating to Ship breaking (appointed by the Supreme Court in February, 2006 while hearing Le Clemenceau case) informing him of their meeting with the Minister of State for Environment. Hariyana Ship Demolitions Pvt Ltd stated the location of the ship on 17th May, 2006 saying that “The convoy shall be soon coming north in the Indian Ocean towards Lakshadweep” adding that there “13 Indian crew on board” on her voyage from Port Klang, Malaysia to Alang. Hariyana Ship Demolition Pvt. Ltd. suggested that the inspection of the ship “can only be done so at safe anchorage at Alang”. It appears that no documents were submitted to seek ship-breaking including the ones showing its ownership.

20 May 2006: Technical Experts Committee on Management of Hazardous Wastes relating to Ship breaking decided to hear Hariyana Ship Demolitions Pvt Ltd who according to the proceedings of the Committee’s Third Meeting had “purchased the ship from Bridgend Shipping Ltd”. The Committee took note of the undertaking by the Hariyana Ship Demolitions Pvt Ltd saying “they would tow the ship away into international waters”. It clarified that “the ship would continue to be manned round the clock while at anchor”. As per the proceedings, the ship has around 1,240 MT of asbestos. Data on PCB content was also submitted but GEPIL clarified “it would not be technically feasible to quantify PCB containing material”. GMB and GPCB participated in the deliberations of the Committee. “the ship prepares its Interim Report after its Third Meeting of the Committee of Technical Experts on Management of Hazardous Wastes Relating to Ship-breaking.

27 May 2006: Following invitation from Environment Ministry and CPCB, submissions by Sanjay Parikh, Gopal Krishna & Ravi Agarwal to the Technical Experts Committee on Management of Hazardous Wastes relating to Ship breaking sought adherence to the Supreme Court order of 14th October, 2003, Basel Convention, Hazardous Waste Rules, 2003 and Factories Act. They stressed on the prior decontamination of the ship in the country of origin.

30 May, 2006: Interim Report submitted to the Supreme Court alongwith I.A. No. 30 by the MoEF. The relief claimed was only with regard to “anchoring”. In this I.A., the MoEF had annexed the letters dated 15.5.2006 and 17.5.06 sent by Hariyana Ship Demolition Pvt. Ltd., claiming itself to be “bonafide purchaser”, to Shri Pradipto Ghosh, Chairman, Committee of Technical Experts on ship breaking. These letters of Hariyana Ship Demolition Pvt. Ltd. had inter alia stated "the currents in high seas in this part of the ocean are very strong especially when monsoon setting in. Therefore, it would not be a safe location to anchor ship as the current may break the Anchor and ship may start drifting.” It further stated: “In case the committee decides not to allow the ship for breaking at Alang, then we hereby undertake to tow the ship away into territorial water, which can be done with ease.” The said Hariyana Ship also pleaded human risks and problems regarding the crew.

In the interim report which was prepared by the technical committee, the following categorical undertaking of M/s Hariyana Ship Demolition Pvt. Ltd. was recorded. "As the ship cannot be safely anchored in the high sea, the cost of holding the ship in the high sea with the help of two tugs would be approximately in the range of US$ 30,000 per day. In view of the above they requested that safe anchorage of the ship at Alang in Indian territorial waters may be permitted. In case, it is finally decided not to permit dismantling of the vessel at Alang, they would tow their ship away into international waters." It was also stated that Vessel contains 1240 MT of Asbestos Containing Material (ACM). With regard to PCB it was said that "it would not be technically feasible to quantify PCB containing material". As regards beaching, the Technical Committee noted that keeping in view the fact that anchorage of ship for a long period of time during monsoon would not be advisable. However, the question of permission for dismantling of the ship was to be considered on the basis of hazardous material on the board and its safe handling on the basis of decommissioning plan to be submitted by M/s HSPDL.

5th June 2006: Reply filed by the applicant to the I.A. No. 30 moved by the MoEF. The applicant stated that the entry of ship is in violation of directions of the Supreme Court in 2003, and is illegal traffic under BASEL Convention as well as Hazardous Waste Rules of 2003.

5th June 2006: The Supreme Court allows Hariyana Ship Demolitions Pvt Ltd to anchor the Blue Lady off Alang on humanitarian grounds. It was observed by the Supreme Court that these directions shall not confer any equity on the owners of the ship. I.A. No. 30 was disposed of.

10.6.2006: Permision to anchor the ship in territorial water “off Alang Port” granted by MoEF.

13 June 2006: Instead of anchoring in the Indian territorial waters, the ship turned around and towed to the UAE, docking at Fujairah (UAE) for two days before again being towed back to the edge of Indian territorial waters.

30 June 2006: Blue Lady anchored 35 nautical miles away from Alang at Pipavav Port after return from UAE. Whether any Authority has the required details about this activity of Blue Lady and what action has been taken or is proposed?

11 July 2006: Inspection of Blue Lady by the Inspection Committee constituted by the Technical Committee. Two documents of the technical committee exists in the records of the Supreme Court:

(1) Report filed by Priya Blue Industries Pvt. Ltd. in its I.A. No.34 which claims to be the owner (substituting Hariyana Ship Demolition Pvt. Ltd.). In I.A. No. 34 of 2006 filed by the said Priya Blue Industries Pvt. Ltd. the inspection report is at pages 28 to 46. As per this report, on 8th July, 2006 there was a pre-inspection of ship followed by inspection on 11.7.06 by the inspection team. The "observations" in the said report as well as the "conclusions" are important: they are different from what has been put on record by the MoEF.

(2) There is also a report by the MoEF which is in volume XIV pages 4852 to 4939. The inspection report is at pages 4885 to 4930. The "observations" and conclusions in these documents are different. Further it is mentioned that there was an attempt for another inspection done on 26th July, 2006, when as per the report filed by Priya Blue, there was an inspection only on 11 July 2006.

29 July 2006: Report of the Technical Committee. The Technical Committee records on the basis of documents submitted by Hariyana Ship Demolitions Ltd that there is no quantification of PCBs made available either by M/S GEPIL or the Inspection Team. Approximate quantification done was that it would be less than 10 MT. The Committee says “that the ship Blue Lady can be accorded beaching permission”. It authorizes the GMB for the said purpose. It further says that the procedure to be followed after beaching would be in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee subject to final approval of the Supreme Court.

31 July 2006: Letter by one Priya Blue Industries Pvt Ltd (at page 51 of IA 34) to GMB claiming itself to be “new buyers of the above vessel”. It may be noted that all earlier processes were based on the ownership claim of Hariyana Ship Demolitions Pvt Ltd, the plan submitted by it of GEPIL claiming that it has all the facilities at its plot. The Priya Blue was never in picture; it is not made clear when it purchased the ship, if earlier than 29th July, 2006 why it was not disclosed to the Committee. Whether it has all the facilities, an assessment of the hazardous waste etc has not been made clear. All the Supreme Court orders were passed on the basis of documents submitted by the Hariyana Ship Demolitions Pvt Ltd and the verification of those documents by the Technical Committee.

1st August 2006: Letter by M Subba Rao, MOEF asking the GMB to proceed further for according the beaching permission to the ship Blue Lady.

Business Standard reported that Hariyana Ship Demolitions Ltd. has sold the ship to Priya Blue Shipping Limited in 16 million US dollars.

3rd August 2006: Letter by GMB to M/S Priya Blue Industries. (Page 47-48 of IA 34) It clearly says that the beaching permission shall be granted as per the various provisions of GMB Ship Recycling Regulation, 2003 and directions of the Supreme Court dated 14th October, 2003. In addition, it says that the following conditions shall be fulfilled with necessary documentation “prior of beaching”. Condition number 15 specifically refers to direction No. 1 of the Supreme Court order of 2003.

15th August 2006: Blue lady beached in Alang approx. 4000 feet away from the shore. Shockingly, GMB allows beaching of the vessel in gross violation of its letter dated 3rd August, 2006, which means, violation of Regulations 2003, Supreme Court order dated 14th October 2003 and all the 20 conditions which were to be complied with “prior of beaching”. (Page 49 of IA 34). In fact the GMB “requested” Priya Blue to furnish the certificate/documents as agreed upon by Priya Blue in response to the letter dated 3rd August 2006. No such response is on the records. Even as per the recommendations of the Technical Committee “ For obtaining beaching permission, the recycler has to submit documents as per Annexure 1 of the GMB Notification dated 5th July, 2003.” No such documents were submitted before 15th August, 2006 when beaching permission was granted.

30 August 2006: Final Report of the Technical Experts Committee on Management of Hazardous Wastes relating to Ship breaking submitted to Supreme Court signed by only Dr Prodipto Ghosh on basis of minutes of the Committee which was also signed by Dr Prodipto Ghosh. None of the other members have signed the report. It is customary for members of such Committee to sign the Final Report. The Supreme Court Monitoring Committee has followed this custom on Hazardous Wastes and also the Supreme Court Committee on Waste to Energy has done the same. In the Foreword of the Final Report Dr Ghosh says, “The Committee had the benefit of the report of the High Power Committee on Hazardous Wastes headed by Prof. M G K Menon (March 2002)…”

The Final Report takes note of asbestos victims in the ship-breaking industry and cites the “Medical Examination of the Asbestos Handlers” by a team of National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH) that concludes, “ The X ray examination by NIOH showed linear shadows on chest X rays of 15 (16 %) of 94 workers occupationally exposed to asbestos. These are consistent with asbestosis…”. The NIOH team concludes and its recommendations are part of the Final Report saying, “The directives of Hon Supreme Court (1995) for asbestos exposed workers and the asbestos schedule of Factory Rules under the Factories Act should be strictly followed”. But it fails to seek compensation for the asbestos victims that is part of the Court’s 1995 order.

With regard to Accidents, the Final Report notes “the average annual incidence of fatal accidents in ship breaking industry is 2.0 per 1000 workers while the All India incidence of fatal accidents during the same period in mining industry, which is considered to be the most accident prone industries, is 0.34per 1000 workers.” This is based on data from 1995 to 2005.

31 August, 2006:Application for further directions in respect of S S Norway (Blue Lady) from the Supreme Court filed by Chairman, Central Polluion Control Board who is also a member of the Technical Experts Committee on Management of Hazardous Wastes relating to Ship breaking. The Report makes no mention of Priya Blue Shipping Ltd

It appears from the various letter of Priya Blue that after obtaining illegally the permission of beaching it wanted to dismantle the ship without even having any dismantling plan of its own independent of Hariyana Ship Demolitions Ltd.

4th December, 2006: Supreme Court judge Justice Arijit Pasayat said, the Gujarat “Pollution Control Board, while examining the dismantling plan shall find out if there is a scope for sending back the vessel in any manner after it has been permitted to be beached.” It granted an opportunity to the petitioner “of placing material in support of its stand (regarding the impermissibility of the entry of the ship) before the Pollution Control Board takes a decision. It said, “no action thereon can be taken without leave of this Court.”

26th December, 2006: Sanjay Parikh and Gopal Krishna gave a submission to the GPCB citing the court order of 14th October, 2003-“At the international Level, India should participate in international meetings on ship breaking at the Level of the International Maritime Organization and the Basel Convention's Technical Working Group with a clear mandate for the decontamination of ships of their hazardous oil, gas and PCBs prior to exports to India for breaking. Participation should include from Central and State Level.” The Supreme Court had observed that ship-breaking operation should strictly adhere to precautionary principle. It referred to principles No. 4, 10, 19 of the Rio Declaration and held that provisions of these Covenants including Basel Convention are part of Article 21 of the Constitution. Principle 19 of Rio Declaration talks about prior and timely notification of the relevant information regarding adverse trans-boundary movements to the state concerned. Prior information by the state of export is contained even in the Rio Declaration. Regarding prior decontamination, the MoEF in its affidavit to the Supreme Court dated 10th February, 2006 had made the following position clear: “I submit that India has consistently taken a stand that ships prior to dismantling should be decontaminated to the extent possible. In the case of Clemenceau, the Government of France has, as per documents submitted, taken steps to decontaminate the ship of asbestos containing material to the extent possible without endangering the ability of the ship to float.”

After the order dated 14.10.2003 passed by the Supreme Court, there were two conferences at the International level i.e. COP-6 and COP-7 In COP-7 it was recognised that a ship can be a ship and waste at the same time and that the prior informed consent should be invoked with regard to the ship breaking. Two important aspects emerge from the above:

(1) Before a ship leaves the port of a foreign country [Exporting Country] for breaking after decontamination there should be complete information about the ownership, past history, total quantity of waste, total quantity of hazardous waste including the embedded one after decontamination, should be supplied to the importing country.
(2) The country of import, before giving clearance and before the ship leaves the port of export should satisfy itself as to whether there was prior decontamination and the quantity and nature of residual waste, which can be disposed of in an environmentally sound manner. Whether proper land-fill facility exists as per the existing guidelines and that safe and environmentally sound conditions exist for the workers to do the dismantling process.

19th February, 2007: Justice S.H. Kapadia said, “It is a Public Interest Litigation. The main matter is listed for final hearing on 12th March, 2007. In that matter one of the main issue which arises for consideration is the norms to be laid down in the matter of ship breaking. The main matter has been appearing before the Bench presided over by Dr. Arijit Pasayat, J. In the circumstances office is directed to list this I.A.No.34 of 2006 after two weeks since it is contended on behalf of the applicant that the said matter is of some urgency. Reply to be filed by the petitioner within one week.” The order came because Additional Solicitor General of India argued on behalf of the private part Priya Blue Shipping Pvt Ltd

26th February, 2007: Blue Lady case came up for hearing before a Special Bench that fixed the next date of hearing for 12 March, 2007 along with the entire issue of ship-breaking. The court asked the parties to file their suggestions for worker’s safety by 8th March, 2007

Earlier Prof. Menon in a letter dated 14th August 2006 to the Chief Justice of India has clearly stated that “any effort to dilute the Supreme Court orders of October 14, 2003 to try to remove the concept of prior decontamination would be a measure going against the interests of workers in the ship-breaking yards as also the violation of the Basel Convention. This will be a violation by both Malaysia and India who are signatories to the Convention.”

For the above mentioned reasons among others, the Blue Lady should be sent back, no dismantling can be allowed despite beaching. It is only after prior decontamination and following the procedure set out in the 2003 Supreme Court order that entry of Blue Lady can be considered.

Any other understanding/interpretation of the present factual situation will be disastrous, namely, that any ship having huge quantity of hazardous material will be allowed entry on humanitarian ground and will then be allowed to beach as it can not remain in the territorial waters for a long time and after beaching, a fait accompli will be pleaded i.e. breaking of the ship will be imminent. This procedure is unheard of and violates every norm, Rule of Law, International Conventions besides the directions given by Supreme Court in the year 2003. This procedure will be extremely dangerous to the environment and human health.
Anonymous said…
Http://remedials.org/bl

The .doc as submitted to the Supreme Court is available.

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