DV Platinum II: India Disallows Beaching and Recycling at Alang Shipyard

by OldSailor on November 10, 2009

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Ministry_of_Environment_and_Forests DV (Dead Vessel) Platinum II, Ocean Liner (IMO No 5160180) arrived Gujarat coast on October 08 for Anchoring, Beaching, Dismantling, Disposal and Recycling at Alang – Sosiya Ship Breaking yard, Gulf of Cambay near Bhavnagar.

Based on the complaints raised by Indian Platform on Ship Breaking and media reports regarding the vessel carrying toxic and radioactive material, a Central Technical Team constituted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Government Of India (GOI) inspected the vessel at Bhavnagar Anchorage Point on October 20. The inspecting team comprised of Technical Officials from Ministry of Steel, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and Atomic Energy & Regulatory Board (AERB) to assess the hazardous materials/wastes contained in the ship, including Poly-Chlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), Asbestos and Radioactive substances. During inspection, the vessel position was 21°07′ 33” N, 72°10′ 34” E about 42 Nautical Mile (NM) from Ghogha Port, about 6 NM from Gopinath Temple and about 15 NM from Alang Ship Breaking Yard.

Now on November 09, MoEF of GOI has disallowed beaching and recycling of the ship at Alang for the following reasons:

  • For violating US Toxics Substances Control Act as the ship owners Global Shipping LLC and its affiliated company Global Marketing Systems, Inc. were fined a total of  $518,500 to resolve Toxic Substances Control Act violations.
  • There are allegations that the vessel reached India with fake documents on national registry and flag.shiprecycling

The Central Technical Team’s assessment of hazardous materials/waste

  • Asbestos Containing Material (ACM)
    • As per documents (submitted along with Application) by M/s Futurenet Group, the quantity of ACM is 147.3 MT.
    • As per GPCB, the estimated quantity of ACM is more than 200 MT.
    • During the inspection, Central Team made an assessment of ACM as per which the quantity is approximately 238 MT.
  • Poly Chlorinated Bi-phenyles (PCBs)
    • As per GPCB report, the quantity of PCB containing materials is 20 MT.
    • However, Central Team could not assess the quantity of PCB containing material, as no details of drawings are available with the ship to know the length and thickness of the cables etc. and having mostly concealed wiring.

The inspection team has further reported that

  • None of the hazardous waste were found in the ship in loose form or as a cargo.
  • As the structure/type & nature of ACM/PCBs in Platinum-II or for that matter in any other ship is a difficult task to exactly estimate the quantities of ACM, PCBs containing materials.
  • ACM and material containing PCBs in Platinum II must be lesser in quantity compared to ‘Blue Lady’ and another passenger vessel that were recycled at Alang in the past.

Some interesting features of DV Platinum II are:

  • Built in 1951 in the United States,at the Bethlehem Steel Company in Quincy, Massachusetts for American Export Lines of New York.
  • Formerly known as S.S Oceanic, S.S Independence.
  • Was towed by Tug – Barracuda-I (IMO No 6717019) from Dubai by Capt Arun Kumar Das.
  • GRT/NRT/LDT of the Ship: 26,658 MT/11,352 MT/18,503 MT.
  • Name of the Shipping Agent: M/s Compass Shipping Agency, Bhavnagar.
  • Name of Ship Recycler: M/s Haryana Ship Demolition Pvt Ltd, Plot No V-4, Sosiya Recycling Yard, Alang.
  • Global Shipping LLC purchased and held the vessel for the purpose of export in July 2007.
  • The vessel left the United States in February 2008 to Dubai.
  • The seller of the vessel is Mr Anil Sharma of Global Marketing Systems, Inc and the buyer is Mr Komal Sharma, the Ship Recycler, brother of Mr Anil Sharma.

Conclusions and Recommendations by the The Central Technical Team

  1. The Platinum II is a passenger ship with all the amenities and not a warship as alleged.
  2. Though it was a ship of USA origin it got last registered at Republic of Kiribati in September 2009 and last port was Dubai.
  3. Allegations on issues related to USEPA is not known and must have been verified as per normal procedure followed for such purposes at the Republic of Kiribati before registration in the name of M/s Platinum Investment Services Corporation.
  4. The importer of the ship through his agent had submitted the required papers including ACM assessment report to GPCB as well as GMB on 3rd October and anchoring was permitted only on 7th October 2009.
  5. After anchoring the ship was inspected by GPCB / GMB / Customs as required.
  6. All hazardous waste like ACM and PCB, and radioactive material were found to be present in the ship in its structure as is prevalent in any ship of this type and size of 1950s and No hazardous waste were found in the ship in loose form or as a cargo.
  7. The team could make an assessment of the ACM but found it difficult to quantitatively assess quantity of PCBs.
  8. The Platinum II is much smaller vessel when compared with earlier dismantled Blue Lady ship at Alang wherein the quantities of hazardous wastes were proportionately higher.
  9. Sailing in the high sea on/around the Amavashya day is too risky.

Further, there is lack of safety precautions while boarding the tug to ship and vice-versa where there may be risk of human lives while undertaking such boarding in such locations and sailing through such routes. GMB had warned the team of various risks and had taken undertaking for all for any eventualities. The Team actually faced great difficulties in carrying out the inspection, particularly such dead vessel that to much inside sea far away from anchorage point. The problems are further aggravated when the ships are too big/high and the inspection team consists of untrained experts not conversant with climbing the top of the ship in monkey ladder.

Keeping the above conclusions in view and difficulties faced in carrying out the inspection and also in assessing exact quantities, the Team recommends that:

  1. The category “Larger” passenger ship requires to be qualified in terms of either dimension or capacity or GRT, NRT etc. to avoid any scope for confusion on “general concern” or “special concern” ship.
  2. Similarly, the ship owner or his agent should submit the required documents in advance to GPCB / GMB / Customs before arrival of the ship. However, the word advance may be qualified in terms of days or weeks.
  3. As it is difficult to assess or estimate the ACM / PCBs etc. on board, especially for dead ships, GPCB and GMB or other similar State Agencies may quantify the same at the time of dismantle and maintain a stock so that real data base can be generated to develop an empirical factor with the size of the deck/ship or number of rooms etc.
  4. MoEF may constitute a standing monitoring committee on ship breaking, if not done already, to monitor/review the implementation of Recommendations of the Technical Expert Committee on at-least half-yearly basis.
  5. Trained experts viz. from Navy etc may be deputed for such inspection and or helicopter may be provided to inspectors, if at all, dead vessels are to be allowed. Secondly, any inspector deputed for high sea inspection including those from SMB, SPCB, Customs etc may be provided with proper safety and also extra insurance cover.

Further, Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) will be investigating the ownership of the vessel.

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