Environmental Groups call on Paul Martin to act to halt toxic CSL ship dumping in India
BAN / Greenpeace Press Release
5 March 2005 (Toronto) – In a letter sent to Paul Martin today Greenpeace and the Basel Action Network demanded that the federal government do everything in its power to have the recently owned CSL ship “Ferbec” returned to a Canadian port. The vessel, laden with hazardous materials such as asbestos and PCBs, is presently on its way to a shipbreaking yard in South Asia after having left the Port of Montreal.
Greenpeace learned that the Ferbec a Canadian ship owned and flagged by Canada Steamship Line (CSL) since 1977, left the port of Montreal on the 24th of January. According to the Montreal Port Authorities the ship left with an unknown shipbreaking destination and without prior notification to government officals as required under international law. The ship, has since been renamed “Michalakis” and is believed to be flying the Mongolian flag. According to the maritime magazine Fairplay the ore carrier was sold by CSL to unknown breakers for $3.79M. In a meeting between Greenpeace and CSL on March 4, CSL confirmed that the ship had been sold with a destination of India for breaking.
“Nobody is denying that the Ferbec was sold for shipbreaking purposes, in fact everyone freely admits that the ship was destined for breaking. Once the ship is destined for shipbreaking it becomes hazardous waste and must be treated as such under the law,” said Steven Guilbeault, Greenpeace Campaigner. “The Canadian government has failed to meet its international legal obligations. If the ship had been carrying hazardous waste as cargo Canadian officials would have acted, but in this case when the ship itself is a hazardous cargo, they sat on their hands and did absolutely nothing.”
As witnessed and documented by Greenpeace and BAN over the past several years, the current practice of sending toxic old ships to developing countries is a carefully disguised form of the hazardous waste trade. The Basel Convention Conference of Parties a decision of 163 countries, of which Canada was a part, in October 2004 confirmed that ships can be waste under the Convention and that Parties are obligated to fulfill their Basel Convention obligations with respect to ships. This means treating vessels destined for breaking as hazardous waste.
“It is not too late for the federal government to take action,” added Jim Puckett of the waste trade watchdog group Basel Action Network. “As the ship is on its way to a shipbreaking yard right now, we urge the government to immediately exercise their authority under the Convention to demand compliance before it gets broken apart in Asia in horrific conditions and the asbestos and PCBs wreak havoc on unsuspecting workers and the environment.”
Hundreds of people at shipbreaking yards endure hard physical labour working in permanent danger. Steel plates and pieces fall off the ships. On board gasses cause fires and explosions. Many workers are injured or even killed by the physical hazards. Pollutants such as asbestos, heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants are on the ships affecting human health and the environment.
For more information contact:
Marietta Harjono, Coordinator international shipbreaking campaign, Greenpeace Netherlands
Tel: +31.20.5249.562, cell: +31.6.15.007.41
Steven Guilbeault, Greenpeace Campaigner, cell: 514-231-2650
Jim Puckett, Basel Action Network, Tel: 206-652-5555
Andrew Male, Greenpeace Communications Co-ordinator, 416-597-8408 x3030 cell: 416-880-2757
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