India's Supreme Court banned the oil tanker Exxon Valdez from entering the country for dismantling today until it has been decontaminated.
The ship, which was involved in one of the worst US oil spills and is now known as the Oriental Nicety, entered Indian waters last week and was headed for Gujarat, when the Supreme Court gave its order.
It was bought recently by an Indian shipbreaking firm and was being taken to the coastal town of Alang, the hub of the country’s shipbreaking industry, for dismantling.
After the court’s orders, Gujarat maritime authorities and the state’s pollution control authorities withdrew the permission they had granted to the company to anchor the ship.
On March 24 1989, millions of gallons of crude oil spewed into Alaska’s ecologically sensitive Prince William Sound when the Exxon Valdez dashed against rocks.
The tanker has had five name changes since the spill, with ownership changing repeatedly, apparently to keep the ship in use while distancing it from the disaster.
The Indian court cited a UN convention that calls for decontamination in a ship’s country of export.
India has one of the world’s largest ship-breaking industries and workers are expected to process the ship to salvage metal parts.
But environment activists said that shipbreaking companies do not follow any precautions while breaking and handling end-of-life ships, exposing workers and the environment to toxic materials.
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