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India’s Supreme Court Allows Exxon Valdez into Shipbreaking Yard

By MarEx 2012-11-19 11:40:00

On Monday India’s Supreme Court ruled that the Exxon Valdez, a tanker ship responsible for the spilling of millions of gallons of oil in waters off Alaska’s coast, would be allowed entry into an Indian shipbreaking yard.

As part of this ruling the court announced that no ship would be allowed to be dismantled in India without the government’s environmental clearance and the vessel’s decontamination as part of the Basel Convention.

Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice J. Chelameswar ruled on the permitting of the MV Oriental Nicety, formerly the Exxon Valdez, for dismantling at the Alang ship breaking yard in Gujarat.

The ships latest owner, Priya Blue Industries Pvt., a Gujarat based company that purchased the ship with the intent of scrapping it, says the vessel will be transported from its anchorage off the country’s coast to Alang yard where it will take several months to dismantle. According to the court, the removal of toxins will become the responsibility of the ship’s owner.

New Delhi based ToxicsWatch Alliance, who initiated the opposition of the ship’s entry, was disappointed. The group claims the vessel poses environmental threats because of asbestos and heavy metals onboard.

The Exxon Valdez made headlines in 1989 after running aground in Prince William Sound. The tanker spilled an estimated 500,000 barrels of crude oil into the pristine waters, causing one of the most devastating environmental disasters. The incident led to the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, changes to Alaska Hull regulations and opposition to drilling in the area.

ToxicsWatch Alliance believes the vessel its self is hazardous waste, “embedded with asbestos, cables containing PCT, heavy metals, paint chips”, and other materials, all of which is regulated under the Basel Convention.