SC bars former US vessel from anchoring at Gujarat port (Lead)May 14th, 2012 - 11:38 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, May 14 (IANS) The Supreme Court Monday declined permission, for now, to the erstwhile American oil tanker Exxon Valdez, rechristened Oriental Nicety, to anchor at the Gujarat ship-breaking port of Alang.
Exxon Valdez hit the headlines in 1989 when it ran aground, resulting in the oil spill running into hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude oil in Alaska. It was billed as the second largest oil spill in the history of America.
The apex court vacation bench of Justice Deepak Verma and Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya said that they would like to know the position of the ministry of shipping on the plea of the shipping company seeking permission to anchor in Gujarat.
Senior counsel Vikas Singh, appearing for the vessel’s owner Hong Kong-based M/s Best Oasis, asked the court to let the ship anchor at Alang.
The court May 3 asked the ministry about the steps being taken to prevent the ship from berthing without decontamination.
The petitioner company told the court in its application that following the oil spill, the tanker was repaired and used for transporting ore.
Pointing to the letter of the Gujarat Maritime Board, the court asked the applicant company to disclose the complete facts about the ownership of the vessel. The court also inquired whether the owner of the ship had complied with the Basel Convention.
The Basel Convention on trans-boundary movement of hazardous wastes and their disposal aims at restricting the movement of dangerous waste between nations. It is essentially to check the routing of hazardous waste from developed countries to less developed countries. The Basel Convention - an international treaty - was signed in 1989.
The ship owning company in its application told the court that the Gujarat Pollution Control Board and the Gujarat Maritime Board were treating its May 3 order as if it restrained Exxon Valdez from entering the territorial waters of India.
The application contended that none of the authorities had verified whether the vessel contained anything that was hazardous in nature or whether it did not comply with conditions laid down by the apex court on decontamination of the end-of-the-life ship in its earlier judgments.
In his application, petitioner Gopal Krishna sought direction to restrain the vessel from entering Indian waters till it complied with the Basel Convention and the formalities required to be fulfilled under the judgments of the apex court
Senior counsel Sanjay Parikh, who appeared for the petitioner, sought direction to the government to “ensure that no end-of-the-life ship should be allowed (to enter Indian waters) without prior decontamination in the country of export (country of origin)” as per apex court orders of Oct 14, 2003.
Krishna, who is associated with NGO Toxics Watch Alliance (TWA), sought direction to the government to send back all end-of-the-life ships which had entered Indian waters without decontaminations.
The petitioner sought an inquiry by trans-disciplinary investigating agency to probe how the ship arrived in Indian waters.
The petitioner detailed a report on the more than 1,200 ships broken in India in the last five years and more than 5,924 ships broken since 1982.
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Tags: alang, american oil, apex court, applicant company, basel convention, dangerous waste, deepak verma, gujarat, hazardous wastes, history of america, maritime board, nicety, oil spill, oil tanker, pollution control board, senior counsel, ship anchor, shipping company, tanker exxon valdez, territorial waters