The High Court yesterday declared that the permission given for importing, beaching and scrapping of radiation-contaminated vessel MT Producer was illegal.
The vessel is now at a ship-breaking yard in Chattogram.
No ship can be imported and beached at the ship-breaking yards violating the conditions of environmental clearance, the HC said, adding that every domestic and international law has been violated in this case.
Delivering its verdict on a writ petition, the HC ruled that the buyers and the agencies that certify whether the ships are free from contamination and hazardous wastes must be listed and controlled strictly by the relevant laws.
Steps will have to be taken to regulate the import of ships from the countries that operate ships in violation of international laws.
The writ petitioner’s lawyer Syeda Rizwana Hasan said some of such countries were Comoros, Palau, Cambodia, Tanzania, Vanuatu, St. Kitts and Nevis, Belize, Cook Islands, Sierra Leone, and Togo.
The HC ordered the Department of Environment (DoE) not to allow any import and beaching of any ship for breaking without getting complete and detailed information about their waste.
The DoE must follow the rules of domestic and international laws in this regard, the HC said.
The court asked the Health Physics and Radioactive Waste Management Unit (HPRWMU) of Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) to adopt an action plan to complete 100 percent scrutiny of the contamination and wastes in the MT Producer.
The action plan will be developed under the supervision of BAEC, Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority and Mega Port Authority and in presence of a senior scientist, the court said.
Janata Steel Corporation, which imported the ship, should bear the cost of scrutinising, but would not be allowed to participate in the process, the HC added.
As per the environment conservation law, the DoE can order Janata Steel Corporation to compensate for polluting the environment by violating the conditions of the environmental clearance, the HC said.
The court, however, lifted its earlier order that halted scrapping of MT Producer vessel and removal of its waste, as some of its parts have already been broken.
The HC bench of Justice Syed Refaat Ahmed and Justice Md Salim came up with the verdict after hearing a writ petition filed by Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (Bela) in 2017 seeking necessary order.
A Bela press release said that the industries ministry, DoE and other relevant agencies have submitted separate reports to the HC, allowing import, beaching and breaking of the MT Producer.
Janata Steel Corporation’s lawyer Ahsanul Karim told The Daily Star that MT Producer could be scrapped without breaking any rule and the HC directives.
Following the same writ petition, another HC bench led by Justice M Enayetur Rahim on August 29, 2017, halted scrapping of the MT Producer after a radioactive material was found on it.
Bela submitted the writ petition as supplementary to a pending writ petition, saying that the representatives from the DoE, BAEC, BAERA, and the Marine Port Initiative of Bangladesh Customs have examined 11 points of the MT Producer and prepared a report on their findings.
The report mentioned that Gamma Radiation Dose Rate at one of the 11 points is harmful to public health, Bela said in the supplementary petition.
Advocate Sayeed Ahmed Kabir also appeared for the writ petitioner.