Shooed off from India, toxic French ship to be stripped in Britain

February 1st, 2009 - 9:31 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Feb 1 (IANS) Turned back from India, Turkey and Greece, the contaminated French aircraft carrier Le Clemenceau will finally be allowed to dock in a British port this week, where it will be broken.The notorious “toxic ship” is to be towed in to a purpose-built dock at Gayrthrop near Hartlepool port, where it is to be broken by a company that has been given the go-ahead by the British government’s environment agency.

The 878-foot, 27,000-tonne hulk, which is laden with asbestos, mercury and PCBs, has sparked environmental protests around the world, and activists have accused France of trying to dump its toxic materials in developing countries.

Decommissioned in 1997, the ship - known as Le Clem - has been moored in Brest, France, since 2006 when the then French president Jacques Chirac was forced to recall her from India after an outcry over the health and safety of Indian workers who would strip the vessel.

An estimated 700 tonnes of material contaminated by the original asbestos used in her construction still remain in the ship.

Protests have flared up in Hartlepool too and local environmentalists have vowed to continue opposing its presence there despite failing to secure a legal ruling preventing the ship’s transfer to the port town.

Jean Kennedy, spokeswoman for Friends of Hartlepool, said: “It is an absolute travesty. As far as I am concerned, the ship should never set sail here.”

However, the government’s health and safety executive has exempted ship-breakers Able UK Ltd. from government regulations in order to let it take on the Clemenceau job, which is worth up to 3.5 million pounds.

With 200 single-hulled oil tankers needing to be disposed of by 2015, the global market for ship-breaking is estimated to be worth up to three billion pounds.

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