French court greenlight departure of warship Clemenceau for India
by People's Daily Online (China)
31 December 2005 – The Paris administrative court gave green light on Friday for the decontamination of the decommissioned aircraft carrier Clemenceau in a shipyard in India.
After rejecting the petitions of four ecologist groups, Joel Alquezar, who represented the French state in court, said "In theory, the Clemenceau can leave."
According to the judge of the court, Stephane Brotons, the argument of the four groups constitute "no serious doubts" for the decision.
Ecologist group Greenpeace and three anti-asbestos groups have tried for months to prevent the transfer of the Clemenceau to the Indian Alang naval yard, the world's biggest shipbreaking yard, where the Indian shipyard workers are not properly protected from the hazards of working with asbestos, which can cause a form of lung cancer.
They said in a report earlier this month that countries which send ships for scrapping in India and other developing countries in Asia are condoning a system that claims thousands of workers' lives each year and that almost half of the world's ships end up in India for dismantling after their sailing lives are over.
They estimate the amount of asbestos still left inside the Clemenceau at around 100 tons.
But Paris says that the aircraft-carrier, although decommissioned, is a warship and so not bound by the Basel Convention of 1989 on the international shipment of dangerous waste.
Marine authorities said on Thursday the Clemenceau that is currently moored in the French naval base of Toulon was ready to leave as soon as it was authorized to do so.
The aircraft carrier, which took part in the 1991 Gulf War, was replaced by the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle.
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