Indian court keeps toxic ship at bay

India's Supreme Court has barred a de-commissioned French warship, due for scrapping in the western state of Gujarat, from entering the country's waters until a team of environment experts finishes its report.

    The ship contains massive amounts of hazardous material

    The aircraft carrier Clemenceau left France in December for the Alang ship-breaking yard amid protests from the environmental group Greenpeace.

    The group says the 27,000-tonne ship contains hundreds of tonnes of hazardous material, including 500 tonnes of toxic asbestos which could pose a risk to the health of scrap workers.

    A two-judge bench said it would decide on 13 February after examining the final report by the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee on Hazardous Wastes on whether the Clemenceau could enter Alang.

    The monitoring panel, which reports to the apex court, had previously recommended that the vessel should not be allowed to enter India because of the toxic waste it carried.

    "We will await the monitoring committee's report," Judge Arijit Pasayat said, adding that in the meantime the Clemenceau should stay outside India's Exclusive Economic Zone, 220 nautical miles (350km) offshore.

    French authorities have said the most dangerous work - the removal of 115 tonnes of brittle asbestos - has been carried out in France and the remaining 45 tonnes of asbestos has to be kept in place to keep the ship seaworthy on its final journey.

    The vessel is currently on its way to India after being delayed for three days before it could enter the Suez Canal. But Egypt said on Sunday it faced no environmental threat from the warship's passage through the canal, and gave it permission to proceed.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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