Toxic ship being dismantled in Ctg | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 23, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, October 23, 2008

Toxic ship being dismantled in Ctg

Court order flouted, environmental outcry ignored

Oil tanker MT Enterprise, blacklisted by Greenpeace for containing hazardous substances, is being dismantled near the Sitakunda beach in Chittagong.Photo: STAR

Defying a court order, dismantling of MT Enterprise--an oil tanker blacklisted by Greenpeace for containing hazardous substances--continues at a ship-breaking yard in the coastal upazila of Sitakunda.
Madina Enterprise, locally known as Siko Steel ship-breaking yard, has been dismantling the vessel secretly for some time ignoring protests from environment-conscious people.
Proprietor of Madina Enterprise Nazim Uddin admitted the dismantling of the ship and claimed that he has all the required clearances from the authorities concerned.
Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (Bela) on October 17 filed a writ petition accusing the importer of the ship of being in contempt of court. Hearing of the petition is to be held today (Thursday).
According to sources, MT Enterprise, which was earlier named Ocean Enterprise, Atlantia, Taiko following each re-registration, is tainted with asbestos, heavy and toxic metals like lead, mercury, cadmium, copper and zinc.
Madina Enterprise started the process of bringing the ship to Bangladesh for scrapping in mid July.
The move concerned environmentalists and an NGO platform in a letter informed the ministry concerned about the matter in August. They cautioned the ministry about the ship and the threats it would pose to the fragile coastal marine ecology, said NGO Platform on Ship-breaking, Bangladesh Focal Person Mohammad Ali Shahin.
However, Madina Enterprise managed to get the No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the shipping ministry and brought the toxic ship at the outer anchorage of Chittagong Port early September.
Bela then filed a case and on September 17 a court issued a stay order on dismantling the ship.
The importer then got the shipping ministry to conduct an inspection. The inspection team reportedly had no representatives from departments concerned with labour, environment and explosive materials.
Madina Enterprise then filed a writ petition along with the inspection report of the shipping ministry and got the stay order vacated, said sources in the Bela and the NGO Platform.
Following another petition by Bela, a court on September 29 issued another stay order on beaching and dismantling the ship for three weeks. Bela filed another petition and got the court to extend the stay order till November 18, said Bela's senior lawyer Iqbal Kabir.
However, Madina Enterprise during the Eid and Puja vacations beached the ship defying the court order and started dismantling the ship. This prompted Bela to file another case accusing the importer of being in contempt of court.
Talking to The Daily Star Nazim Uddin claimed that they had all the required permissions and clearances from the authorities, including from the director general (DG) of shipping, Chittagong Port and Bangladesh Navy.
"We have already completed 50 percent of the dismantling job after paying all duties and taxes," he said.
He said they did not do anything that might be considered contempt of court.
"The rule issued by the court on September 29 was on the DG of shipping and there is no restriction on the dismantling of the ship," he claimed.
NGO Platform on Ship-breaking, Bangladesh in a statement last night called for restriction on dismantling ships which have not been cleaned up or contains one or more hazardous substances.
In the statement they demanded ensuring cleaning up of ships before they arrive in Bangladesh and gradual phasing out of scrapping ships using the beaching method.
Bangladesh is now emerging as a ship-building country so it is possible to dismantle ships on dock yards, read the statement signed by NGO Platform on Ship-breaking, Bangladesh Focal Person Mohammad Ali Shahin.

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