The High Court today sought assessment reports from three agencies on the presence of naturally occurring radioactive material of MT Producer, an imported toxic scrap vessel now at a ship breaking yard in Chittagong.
Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission, Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority and Marine Port Initiative of Bangladesh Customs have been asked to submit the assessment reports on the radiation contamination of MT Producer (North Sea Producer) before it in 10 weeks.
The court also issued a rule asking the respondents to explain in three weeks why giving clearance certificate in favour of MT Producer, the Maersk owned 52,000-tonne huge Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) purchased by Janata Steel Mill (Ship Breaking Yard) at a record price of Tk 51.82 crore from Danish Shipping Company Marks, should not be declared illegal.
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In the rule, the court also asked the respondents to reply why action should not be taken against the seller of the vessel for giving a false announcement about it and why foreign experts should not be appointed to ensure safe scrap of the vessel at the cost of the importer.
The HC bench of Justice Syed Refaat Ahmed and Justice Md Salim came up with the order and rule following a writ petition filed by Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) challenging the legality of authorities’ decision to import MT Producer, its beaching and scrapping.
Bela chief Advocate Syeda Rizawana Hasan told The Daily Star that Janata Steel Mill has imported MT Producer in August last year in violation of the existing laws and court orders and made a false announcement saying that there was no toxic material in the vessels.
Janata Steel Mill has collected a clearance certificate from an unknown agency and the ministry of industries most arbitrarily permitted the breaking of the vessel on September 8, 2016 although the department of environment never issued environmental clearance in favour of breaking of the vessel, she said.
After a news report titled “Maersk and the hazardous waste in Bangladesh” was published in a leading Danish newspaper DANWATCH on October 15, 2016, it first came to public attention that the said vessel has been sold to Bangladesh, Advocate Rizwana added.
Secretaries to the ministries of industries, environment and forest, commerce and labour and employment; chairmen of Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission and Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority; deputy commissioner of Chittagong; director general of the coast guard; collector of customs, Bangladesh customs; chairman of Chittagong port authority; chief inspector of department of explosives; director general of the directorate of Inspection for factories and establishments; director of department of environment; principal officer of mercantile marine department; president of Bangladesh ship breakers association; proprietor of Janata steel corporation (ship breaking yard) and managing director of M/S HR ship management ltd (safety agency) have been made respondents.