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French Asbestos carrier blocked

French Asbestos carrier blocked

Clemenceau… The ship that died. But didn’t stop killing.

Mediterranean — France thinks it can get away with dumping a warship containing hundreds of tonnes of toxic materials like asbestos, PCBs, lead and mercury in India. We say that's illegal toxic dumping -- so we have boarded the warship to prevent it getting to India.

French authorities seem determined to see unprotected workers scrap the aircraft carrier, Clemenceau and allow poor workers to sort the toxic waste by hand.

We are just as determined to stop them.

Two activists have boarded the ship during its transit through the Mediterranean towards India. One of them, Sebastian, spent 24 hours on the mast of the Clemenceau one month ago trying to prevent it leaving France. Last time he had only one apple to eat and a banner to sleep in but he's back again, prepared to prevent France getting away with dumping the ship.

Update 14:40 CET: While Greenpeace continues to occupy the ship, the government of Egypt has requested all certificates required within the framework of the Basel convention to approve the Clemenceau passing through Egyptian waters and the Suez canal. The same request is made to the Indian government. If Egypt does not receive all required documents, they will have to consider the ship illegal, subject to punishment under Egyptian law, and it will be ordered back to a French port.

Hovering above Sebastian is a French military helicopter. Navy personnel have boarded the ship, no doubt to ensure it makes it to an Indian shipbreaking yard so a poor worker can hand sort France's deadly asbestos.

This is not the first time France has tried to dump the toxic asbestos carrier on someone else, nor the first time its been boarded to send it back to France. In 2003 France tried to send it for scrapping in Bangladesh, via Greece. But the Greek military boarded the ship in the Mediterranean and forced it to return to France. View the history of the ship nobody wants.

France wants to send the ship to be scrapped on the beaches of Alang, India. Check out where France thinks its OK to send its toxic waste:

India doesn't want it either

Since our action in France last month, the story has been making headlines in India. Our activists at the French embassy in Delhi were immediately arrested in a failed attempt to silence the growing protests in India. On January 7, the Indian Supreme Court issued an interim ruling ordering the ship to stay out of Indian waters due to the hundreds of tonnes of asbestos onboard. But despite this, the Clemenceau is still heading straight for India.

Under an international law, called the Basel convention, France is not allowed to dump toxic waste in a developing country like India. But France is exploiting a loophole that allows the ship not to be called 'waste' until it arrives.

Take the waste out of the ship and put it in barrels back on the ship – that's illegal hazardous waste transport, leave it in the structure of the ship and you have a excuse to let the ship poison and kill people in developing countries.

It’s a garbage argument. It's bad enough that the shipping industry uses it to justify sending toxic garbage to India, but for a country like France to use it is indefensible. Write to the French Prime Minister to tell him it's a French toxic mess, and it needs to be dealt with responsibly, in France.

What is the solution?

The Clemenceau may be one of the largest ships to be sent for scrap but every year a vast decrepit armada bearing a dangerous cargo of toxic substances, asbestos, PCBs and heavy metals, ends up in ship breaking yards in Bangladesh, India, China and Pakistan, where they are cut up in the crudest of fashions, taking a huge toll on human health and the local environment.

Asian ship breaking yards are perfect for the shipping industry. They can make a quick profit by dumping old ships that are too expensive to scrap in developed countries due to the hazardous materials in them. Such problems evaporate when environmental rule enforcement is lax and workers rights practically non-existent. A dream come true for unscrupulous shipping industry but a nightmare for the environment and workers safety.

We are campaigning to end this nightmare. The solution is simple. Developed countries should decontaminate old ships before they are sent for scrapping.

© Scoop Media

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