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Unsafe Toxic Ship Detained In Europe

Unsafe Toxic Ship Detained In Europe

UNSAFE TOXIC SHIP DETAINED IN EUROPE: Greenpeace demands shipping industry takes responsibility for vessels that reach end of useful life

Amsterdam 15th February 2001: Greenpeace today called on the shipping industry to dispose of ships that reach the end of their useful life in an environmentally sound manner and to stop using Asia as a dumping ground after a toxic ship, destined to be scrapped in India, was detained in the Netherlands this week.

As the 172 metre vessel, the Mauritian owned Sandrien, was preparing to leave Amsterdam for the Alang ship breaking yard in India, the Dutch Ministry for the Environment detained the vessel due to concerns that it should be classified as hazardous waste. The vessel, which was used to transport chemicals and molasses, contains asbestos, heavy metals and other toxic materials.

The export of hazardous waste is illegal under the 1995 Basel Ban which prevents OECD countries exporting hazardous waste to non-OECD countries, such as India. The European Union ratified the ban in 1997. (1) This would be the second time that the Basel Ban has been enforced top prevent a toxic ship being exported from Europe to a non-OECD country for scrap. The first instance occurred in 1999 when the Forthbank was detained in Belgium.

“This case sends a clear message to the shipping industry that it cannot dump its toxic ships on Asia. In the interests of the environment and of worker safety, ship owners must take responsibility for decontaminating their ships of hazardous materials before they are exported for scrapping,” said Navros Mody, Executive Director of Greenpeace India.

Ships exported to Asia for scrapping contain dangerous substances such as cancer causing asbestos which is used for insulation, paints that contain heavy metals and explosive gases and oils. Workers and the environment are exposed to these substances when the ships are broken.

The Sandrien, built in 1974 was, until very recently, owned by Panship, the same Italian company that owned the Erika, the vessel that contaminated the French coast with oil when it sank last year. Records indicate that the Sandrien has a similarly poor safety record. It was initially arrested by the Dutch port authorities in Amsterdam last September for violating safety regulations. Last week, the authorities granted it permission to sail one last time to the Indian shipbreaking yard providing it did not carry cargo and weather conditions were good. Greenpeace considers that, in this case, the vessel should not be exported to India as it is not seaworthy.

“As a lot of the world’s ships are reaching the end of their useful lives, the need to ensure they are disposed of in responsible manner becomes more pressing. Even if this ship is decontaminated, to allow it to set sail in its condition would be irresponsible and would endanger the lives of crew and the marine environment,” said Marietta Harjono, Greenpeace toxics campaigner.

Notes to Editors: (1) The Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes is an international convention under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme. The Convention was drafted in response to growing complaints from developing countries of hazardous waste dumping by industrialised nations. The Basel Ban amendment of the Convention now prohibits the export of hazardous wastes from rich countries to developing countries for any purpose.

For further information contact: Marietta Harjono, Greenpeace toxics campaigner on: + 31 20 524 9562 Matilda Bradshaw, Greenpeace International media unit on + 31 20 524 9545

Photographs of the ship are available on request


For information on Greenpeace please visit:

High-bandwidth users can view current and archive streaming Greenpeace videos at:

For more information on this press release please contact: Greenpeace International Press Office T: ++ 31 20 5249515 F: ++ 31 20 5236212


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