30 September 2011

Toxic Ship 'Platinum II' : Case Study


  • History and Origin of Shipbreaking Industry
  • A Brief Note on Gujarat
  • A Brief Note on The Case of Alang Shipbreaking Yard
  • A Brief History on The Platinum II Case
History and Origin of the Shipbreaking Industry

Shipbreaking or ship demolition is a type of ship disposal involving the breaking up of ships for scrap recycling, with the hulls being discarded in ship graveyards. Most ships have a lifespan of a few decades before there is so much wear that refitting and repair becomes uneconomical. Shipbreaking allows materials from the ship, especially steel, to be reused. Equipment on board the vessel can also be reused. Until the late 20th century, shipbreaking took place in port cities of industrialized countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States. Today, most shipbreaking yards are in developing countries, with the largest yards at Gadani in Pakistan, Alang in India, Chittagong in Bangladesh and Aliaga in Turkey.

This is due to lower labor costs and less stringent environmental regulations dealing with the disposal of lead paint and other toxic substances. Some “breakers” still remain in the United States which work primarily on government surplus vessels. ere are also some in Dubai, UAE for tankers. China used to be an important player in the 1990s. It is now trying to reposition itself in more environmentally friendly industries.

The business of shipbreaking is one of the numerous industries which have grown up round shipping and the sea. It was apparently first practised in the dismantling of ships which had been driven ashore in bad weather. Those who had the legal right to a wreck, and often those who had not, used the materials for building their huts ashore or for any other purpose.

Shipbreaking as an industry does not appear until a later date, but in Tudor days it was the regular practice to break up worn-out warships in the dockyards and to work all the material that was still serviceable into new hulls. The frequent shortages of seasoned timber, especially in wartime, made this practice necessary and it saved infinite trouble and labour with primitive tools in the making of new parts. Many of the ships so built, however, showed weakness from the first.


Gujarat has the longest shoreline of about 1663 km. The Gujarat coast provides a wide variety of coastal features due to its varied physiography, geomorphology, coastal processes and river discharge into the sea. The Gujarat coast has been broadly classified into five regions. The Rann of Kachchh, the Saurashtra coast, Gulf of Kutch, Gulf of Khambhat and the South Gujarat coast, based on the distinct variation in the wetland/landform categories. These variations are due to climate, substrate constituents and topography. Mangrove forests occupy creeks and tributaries that crisscross the coastal belt. The areas selected for the present study are Gulf of Kachchh, South of Dwarka and Diu Islands.

People have lived in Gujarat for hundreds of thousands of years and there are many traces of primeval life here. Archaeologists have discovered ruins of port towns, which existed in the 3rd or the 2nd millennium BC indicating that marine trade was prevalent then. Gujarat had trade relations with many countries in those days. Gujarat’s relations with other countries were weakened after the abandonment of cities of the Indus Valley Civilisation. Little is known of the inhabitants of the times gone by except what can be gleaned from the artefacts left behind by them. Trade and navigation, both oceanic and riverine, again grew tremendously in the Mauryan period which extended from 321 to 180 BC. The Arabian Sea was mainly used for the purpose of maritime trade. Thus, Gujarat is known for its navigation from ancient times and had established trade links with ancient countries like Sumer, Phoenicia, Rome, Egypt, Arabia, Iran, East Africa, Lanka, Brahmadesh, Malaya, Java, Sumatra, China etc.

Alang Shipbreaking Yard

At Alang in the State of Gujarat in India, ships are beached up to the yard because of its peculiar marine conditions and high tide. Such conditions are not available at other shipbreaking countries where the ship does not come up to the yard. They lighten the ships on the sea bed and the pieces are pulled to the yard. Once the ship is lightened, it is brought to the yard. Lightening of the ship on the sea bed is dangerous as far as oil pollution is concerned in case of tankers. Beaching method in shipbreaking has to be continued as it is most economical and practical. All the major shipbreaking countries presently follow this method.

Ships are mobile structures of comprehensive size and consist mostly of steel. At the end of their active life, they become a sought-after source of ferrous scrap. This acts as an alternative to the non-renewable resource of ore and is particularly suited for the production of simple steel products. Obsolete vessels available for scrapping may also represent a useful source of supply for second hand equipment and components.

The importance of shipbreaking as a potential source of raw material for the re-rollers was recognized in early 80’s. As a result, import of ships for breaking was accelerated. Prior to 1979 the Shipbreaking activities in India was limited to breaking of barges, small sized ships and casualty ships. It was concentrated in two major parts namely Mumbai and Calcutta.

Due to increase in trend of import of ships for breaking in India, an emphasis was laid to examine various sites suitable for this activity. Amongst various methods of Shipbreaking, the beaching method depends on skilful harnessing of zero cost tidal energy at sheltered coastal locations and warrants the least capital investment. Considering the favorable parameters for beaching method like high tidal range, firm seabed, gentle seaward slope etc., it was decided to set-up a ship breaking yard on the western coast of Gulf of Cambay near Alang village. The first vessel – MV KOTA TENJONG was beached at Alang on 13th Feb. 1983. Since then, the yard has witnessed spectacular growth and has emerged as a leading shipbreaking Yard in the world.

Breaking of ships on such a large scale would obviously necessitate extensive care on issues like physical and social infrastructure, worker safety and welfare, environment management, establishment of down stream and ancillary industries etc. These involve not only the financial resources but also many others influencing factors viz. proper knowledge base, compatibility of mindset between workers and the ship recyclers, availability of land and negotiation skills for legal issues. GMB as a regulator has put in sincere efforts to develop above requirements to accelerate the growth of this industry.

Alang located on the western coast of Gulf of Cambay, in the western part of India, is the largest ship-recycling yard in the world. Ever since its inception in 1982, Alang has emerged as one of the choicest ship-scrapping destinations for the ship owners around the world. Hundreds of ships from all over the world find their final resting place in Alang every year.

There are 173 plots to carry out the ship-recycling activities. This activity forms an industry by itself, as it provides around 30,000 jobs in Alang itself and generates steel totaling to millions of tons every year. That too, with minimum consumption of electricity. If we examine these bare facts from the ecological point of view, it amounts to saving of huge amount of non-cyclic and precious mineral reserves like coal, petroleum etc. It is therefore, one of the most lucrative industries as also contributing to ecological balance.

Millions of tons of steel is recycled by re-rolling mills. Many mechanical spares find their applications in one-way or other. Various electrical components hold special value for the fixed set of customers. And the list goes on. A truly strong platform then, to promote re-usability of products, which are otherwise considered to be SCRAP. Also deserves special compliments, as many of these do not require re-processing and so no incidence to consume power and water.

The present recycling facilities in the world are sufficient to take care of the world recycling requirements now and also in the future and as such further facilities may not be required to enhance the capacity. In fact, presently, there are not adequate ships at the recycling facilities as mentioned earlier and enough spare capacity is available. Hence, there seems to be no necessity to enhance the present ship recycling capacity. All hazardous materials on board the ship which are not required for final voyage should be removed prior to delivery of the ship for recycling.

The capacity available for breaking ships in the world was estimated in 2005 at around 12 m.ldt (million light displacement tonnes) whereas ships coming to the ship demolition market have drastically come down to around 2 m.ldt. Since 2002, the availability of ships for demolition reduced from the level of 28.0 m.dwt (million dead weight tonnes) in calendar year 2002 to 4.5 m.dwt in the current year as on 11th November, 2005. India’s share has also slipped from 10.8 m.dwt in 2002 to about 1.0 m.dwt in the current year till 11th November, 2005 while that of Bangladesh has slipped from 8.8 m.dwt in 2002 to 2.9 m.dwt in the current year. This has reflected in exorbitant rise in the prices of ships coming for demolition at about US$350/ldt, as against the melting steel scrap price of about US$230/tonne.

In terms of weight in Light Displacement Tonnage (ldt), world shipbreaking amounted to 6.5 m.ldt in 2002 which has come down to about 2 m.ldt in the current year. India’s share has been 2.7 m.ldt in 2002 which has come down to about 0.5 m.ldt in the current year till 15th November, 2005.

Scrap recovered from ships is used as re-rollable scrap and melting scrap in Asian countries where scrap-based re-rolling mills are operative. In developed countries, such scrap recoveries are used as melting scrap only fetching about US$50/tonne less than the prevailing melting steel scrap prices. Thus, it is seen that there is no question of shortage of dismantling capacity. Rather, there is need to reduce the excess capacity by eliminating the casual ship recycler who compromises the regulations, by strictly implementing the environmental and occupational hazards rules.

The 1992 Basel Convention on the control of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal, control and regulate the import of hazardous wastes into the country. India is a party to the Basel Convention. It signed the Convention on 15.3.1990, ratified it on 24.6.1992, and acceded to the Convention on 22.9.1992. Import of such wastes may be allowed for processing or re-use as raw material, after each case has been examined on merit by the State Pollution Control Board.

Current shipbreaking is centred primarily in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and China. Almost all vessels, with few exceptions, are broken up at beach facilities. Compared with standards or general norms expected within the industrialised countries, current methods of ship dismantling fail to comply in many aspects. Insufficiencies related to the adopted procedures include, but may not be limited to precautions, training and awareness and to facilities available. Furthermore, the implementation of measures for improvement will affect not only the ship-dismantling facility but may also raise issues relating to procedures prior to dismantling, as well as to the destiny of the waste or material streams derived from the extraction process. Problems generated by the insufficiencies of current ship-dismantling practices have consequences for not only the environment but also for occupational safety and health of the workers.

By occupying and expanding the areas required for breaking, the dismantling industry affects both the local surrounding, environment and society. The established local community may be relying on basic industries such as fishery and agriculture, hence conflict of interests may become an issue. Discharges and emissions to sea, ground and air cause both acute and long term pollution. The lack of containment to prevent toxins from entering the environment is a major concern.


SS Independence was an ocean liner built in 1951 for American Export Lines. Between 1974 and 1982 she sailed as Oceanic Independence for Atlantic Far East Lines and American Hawaii Cruises, after which she reverted to her original name. Independence was then operated by American Global Line between 1982 and 1996, and again American Hawaii Cruises until 2001 when she was laid up in San Francisco.

In 2006 the ship was renamed Oceanic and, after being mothballed for seven years, she left San Francisco for Singapore on 8 February 2008. The destination later changed to Dubai. In 2009 she was renamed Platinum II and left Dubai under tow for the shipbreaking yards in Alang,India. After having been turned away from the scrap yards due to hazardous materials she was grounded off Alang. Later her hull broke in two aft of the smokestacks, making refloating impossible. She will be scrapped on the spot.

Independence had a sister ship, SS Constitution, which sank while under tow en route to be scrapped in 1997.

American Export Lines
SS Independence, 23,719 GRT, and the 23,754 GRT, SS Constitution where built by Bethlehem Steel Corporation, Quincy, Massachusetts, USA for the American Export Lines to operate on the US Mediterranean service. She was constructed in yard 1618 of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation’s Fore River Shipyard, Quincy Massachuetts. She was launched on June 3, 1950 and completed January 1951. Both ships sported black hulls and American export lines funnel colors. Independence departed on her maiden voyage, being a cruise to the Mediterranean, on February 11. 

On April 12 she departed her first liner voyage from New York to Genoa, later the route was changed to New York to Naples. In 1959, both ships were sent to Newport News, where their forward superstructure was moved 22 feet forward and lifted up by one deck, in order to increase First Class passenger capacity by more than 100 berths. Sadly, the reconstruction changed the previously well balanced, graceful look, especially with the loss of half of the glass enclosed promenade deck and the added height forward. Accommodations were now listed as 484 First Class, 350 Cabin Class, and 254 Tourist Class passengers. During their heyday, many movies were made onboard with such stars as Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr and many others. They also carried high profile passengers such as President Harry Truman, Alfred Hitchcock, Walt Disney, even King Saud. Both ships continued on the Mediterranean run, however, like most Trans-Atlantic liners of the day, passenger numbers dropped and the service was suspended in 1967.

Atlantic Far East Line
In January 1974, both Independence and Constitution were sold to the Atlantic Far East Line Inc., Monrovia, being part of the massive C.Y. Tung group. Independence was renamed Oceanic Independence and after a refit she commenced cruising, with a new passenger capacity of 950 passengers. However, Constitution, renamed Oceanic Constitution, was laid up at Hong Kong on August 4, 1974. Oceanic Independence continued to cruise until she was also laid up at Hong Kong on January 17, 1976. In November that year there were rumours that she was to be sold to Shannon SA, of Panama, but, this did not eventuate. Oceanic Independence remained laid up and was renamed Sea Luck I for a short time but soon after renamed Oceanic Independence once more.

American Hawaii Cruises
As they were no longer American flagged ships, C.Y. Tung was not able to operate them within American waters. However, in 1979 both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives approved their return to the States. In 1980, C.Y. Tung transferred Oceanic Independence to their newly established; US based American Hawaii Cruises Inc. After extensive repairs and a refit at the Kawasaki Dockyard Co. Ltd, Kobe Japan, Oceanic Independence now accommodated 750 one class passengers, and she was listed as being 20,220 GRT. Oceanic Independence departed on her maiden cruise in June, 1980, operating 7-Day cruises around the Hawaiian Islands from Honolulu

On September 24, 1981, she sustained minor damage off the coast of Nawiliwili, however passengers were safely taken from the ship and flown home. In October she was taken to San Francisco for repairs and soon returned to service. In 1982, American Hawaii Cruises Inc became part of the American Global Line, Inc, and to the joy of Americans she became Independence once again. With Independence having been successful in 1980, Oceanic Constitution was refitted in Taiwan and departed for Honolulu with a passenger capacity of 1,088, and was listed at 20,199 GRT. She was transferred to the American Global Line, Inc, and was re-christened by Princess Grace of Monaco under her original name, Constitution. She commenced cruising out of Honolulu in June 1982. 

In 1984, her passenger numbers was reduced to 800. Both ships were officially reregistered in Honolulu in 1987. In 1994 Independence was withdrawn from service and she headed to Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry dock Company for an extensive refit. However, in April 1996 American Hawaii Cruises decided to retire the forty six year old Constitution, which they said was due to her high running costs and renovations required. She was finally laid up due the company’s financial problems. During her lay-up many of her parts were taken and were used on Independence

After the demise of Constitution, her older sister became the last US built ocean liner to sail under the American flag. Celebrations were held on board during Independence’s 1,000th voyage in August 1999. 2001 bankruptcy of American Hawaii Cruises, the owners of the American Hawaii Line, Independence became the property of the US Maritime Administration and sailed from Honolulu to San Francisco, arriving on 8 November 2001.

In February 2003, Independence was sold at auction for US$4 million to Norwegian Cruise Line, which also acquired SS United States. At this time, NCL received permission to create US flagged cruise operation, to be named NCL America. (US flagging is a valuable competitive advantage, as the Passenger Vessel Service Act prohibits non-US lines from transporting passengers from one US port to another without stopping at a foreign port, and in particular it permits 7-day Hawaii cruises. As US flagging requires US-built ships, no other major cruise operation is US-flagged.)

In mid-2006, Independence was renamed Oceanic, amid speculation she may be scrapped. In July 2007, Norwegian Cruise Line announced that Oceanic had been sold with later reports claiming the ship had been purchased by an American company.

Departure from San Francisco
Oceanic was towed out of San Francisco Bay on 8 February 2008. Its final destination was revealed to be Singapore, but was changed to Dubai. Rumors had been swirling that the ship was destined for a scrapyard in India or Bangladesh, but has been stopped due to a complaint filed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency that the ship was being towed to a overseas scrap yard.

Global Marketing Systems, the last owner of Oceanic, was fined $518,500 for exporting the ship for scrap without prior removal of toxins such as asbestos and PCBs.

Name change and departure to Alang
In 2009 Oceanic was renamed Platinum II and departed Dubai for Alang, being towed by a tug Barakhoda. The tug apparently lost all power and setting the two vessels adrift some 25 km off Alang. Another tug was sent to assist Barakhoda and her crew of nine.

Technical details
Independence measures 683 feet (208 m) in length and 23,719 gross register tons. She was capable of cruising at 26 knots. She accommodated 1,000 passengers, and was designed to accommodate 5,000 soldiers during wartime. According to Life magazine, “It will house passengers in Henry Dreyfuss-designed cabins, apartments, and ‘penthouses,’ keep their shipboard spirits up with branches of Fifth Avenue shops, handsome public rooms and bars decorated with old tattoo designs, collections of ships in bottles and Early American silver. Late American devices include 125 feet (38 m) of picture windows in the observation lounge, polarized glass in portholes to control light and glare, and bedside telephones from which a passenger can phone anyone within 5,000 miles.”


  • Sources
  • Hypotheses
  • Aim and Significance
Methodology in Brief

The present research study is mainly a doctrinal and analytical. Keeping this in view, the researcher utilized the conventional method of using libraries consisting of primary sources.

As the study is doctrinal in nature, historical and doctrinal methods are adopted because it is not possible to study purely by experimental method.

The researcher has also studied secondary sources i.e. judgments, conventions etc.


Before commencing the project work the researcher was of the view that:

  • Whether there was any Environment Impact Assessment done before the acceptance of contract for the breaking of Platinum II.
  • Whether the Gujarat Maritime Board is environmentally blind or environmental concerns are least.
  • Whether the views of Supreme Court in such shipbreaking cases could be critically reviewd under Doctrine of Prospective Overruling.
Aim & Significance of the Study

The researcher carried out the research work with the objective to know regarding ship breaking activities in Alang, also to assess the damage caused by such activities.

The research work would be helpful to students as it is compilation of Itinerary of Platinum II, Alang Ship Breaking yard, Legal Regime and View of Supreme Court in such cases.


  • International Convention
  • Indian Statutes
Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal

Article 6(1)
The State of export shall notify, or shall require the generator or exporter to notify, in writing, through the channel of the competent authority of the State of export, the competent authority of the States concerned of any proposed transboundary movement of hazardous wastes or other wastes. Such notification shall contain the declarations and information specified in Annex V A, written in a language acceptable to the State of import. Only one notification needs to be sent to each State concerned.

Article 13(3)(b)
Information regarding transboundary movements of hazardous wastes or other wastes in which they have been involved, including:

(i) The amount of hazardous wastes and other wastes exported, their category, characteristics, destination, any transit country and disposal method as stated on the response to notification;
(ii) The amount of hazardous wastes and other wastes imported, their category, characteristics, origin, and disposal methods;
(iii) Disposals which did not proceed as intended;
(iv) Efforts to achieve a reduction of the amount of hazardous wastes or other wastes subject to transboundary movement;

Annex.1 (Y10)
Annexure 1 states the Categories of the Waste to be controlled in which under the entry Y10 it has been stated “Waste substances and articles containing or contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and/or polychlorinated terphenyls (PCTs) and/or polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs)”

The Basel Convention on the Control of Trans Boundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is the most comprehensive global environmental treaty on hazardous and other wastes.50 170 Countries are Parties to the Convention, India is one of them. This international legal framework was established in order to react against the rise of toxic trading. Indeed, the strict Law, Environment and Development Journal environmental standards in industrialised countries led to a dramatic rise in the cost of hazardous waste disposal. Therefore ‘toxic traders’ began shipping hazardous waste to developing countries where there were no facilities to dispose hazardous waste in an environmentally sound manner.

The Basel Convention sets an exhaustive list of products and materials that it considers to be hazardous wastes. However, the Convention also applies to the wastes that are defined as, or are considered to be hazardous wastes by the domestic legislation of the Party of export, import or transit. The Basel Convention is based on the prior informed consent of the country of export and the country of import of hazardous wastes. For example, Article 6 states that ‘the State of export shall notify, or shall require the generator or exporter to notify, in writing, through the channel of the competent authority of the State of Export, the competent authority of the States concerned of any proposed trans boundary movement of hazardous wastes or other wastes’ and then the State of import shall ‘respond to the notifier in writing, consenting to the movement with or without conditions, denying permission for the movement, or requesting additional information’.

Pursuant to the Convention, Parties ‘shall not permit the export of hazardous wastes and other wastes to the Parties which have prohibited the import of such wastes, and shall prohibit or shall not permit the export of hazardous wastes and other wastes if the State of import does not consent in writing to the specific import’. As the whole agreement is export based- that is precaution has to be exercised at the instance of export therefore India is in conformance and no violation has been committed. The Basel Convention tries to establish the traceability and the control of hazardous wastes and tries to ensure that those wastes will be disposed of in an environmentally sound manner. For example, the Convention requires that ‘hazardous wastes be packaged and labelled and transported in conformity with generally accepted international rules’. It also obliges ‘hazardous wastes [to] be accompanied by a movement document from the point at which a transboundary movement commences to the point of disposal’. The Convention also states that ‘each Party shall require that hazardous wastes or other wastes, to be exported, are managed in an environmentally sound manner in the State of import or elsewhere’. However the Convention does not give a detailed definition of ‘environmentally sound management of hazardous waste’ that has to be followed by State Parties. It only refers to nonobligatory technical guidelines.

The Convention mentions the issue of ships in its Article 1.4 which states that ‘wastes which derive from the normal operations of a ship, the discharge of which is covered by another international instrument, are excluded from the scope of this Convention’. This Article simply recognises the competence of a pre-existing treaty (MARPOL) on the regulation of wastes derived from a normal operation of a ship such as bilge water, fuel, and sewage. Therefore, this article does not exempt ships which contain hazardous wastes from the Basel Convention. The Seventh Conference of Parties, in order to clarify that issue, asserted that end-of-life ships that contain hazardous wastes could be qualified as hazardous wastes under the Basel Convention. The Decision VII/26 adopted by consensus of all 160 Parties states that ‘Recognising that many ships and other floating structures are known to contain hazardous materials and that such hazardous materials may become hazardous wastes as listed in the annexes to the Basel Convention’. As Greenpeace argues, such statements only point out that materials in ships can be hazardous wastes but it does not clarify when such material become wastes. However, the next statement in decision VII/26 clarifies that a ship can be a waste. It states that ‘noting that a ship may become a waste as defined in Article 2 of the Basel Convention and that at the same time it may be defined as a ship under other international rules’. Article 2 of the Basel Convention mentions that ‘Wastes are substances or objects which are disposed of or are intended to be disposed off. Therefore, those 2 statements underline that end-of-life ships are, when intended to be disposed of, (with regard to Article 2 of the Basel Convention) hazardous wastes falling under the Basel Convention.

Environment Protection Act, 1986
There has been violation of S.6(e) which states that “ the prohibition and restrictions on the location of industries and the carrying on of processes and operations in different areas” and also Section 8 which deals with Hazardous Substances i.e “Persons handling hazardous substances to comply with procedural safeguards: No person shall handle or cause to be handled any hazardous substance except in accordance with such procedure and after complying with such safeguards as may be prescribed

Hazardous Substances Rules 2007
The Government of India has framed the Hazardous Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 1989 and Hazardous Waste (Storage Export and Import) Rules, 1989 to regulate the disposal of hazardous waste in India. These rules make it mandatory for any organization to seek the permission of the local state pollution control board for grant of authorization for carrying hazardous substances in the form of collection, reception, treatment, transport, storage and disposal of such wastes.

Cleaning, emptying and maintenance of petroleum oil storage tanks including ships leads to hazardous waste i.e. Oil-containing cargo residue, washing water and sludge, Chemical-containing cargo residue and sludge, Sludge and filters contaminated with oil, Ballast water containing oil from ships.

There had been violation of Rule 5(1) which states that “Import of hazardous wastes from any country to India for disposal shall not be permitted”
As per Terms of Reference No. ii, the Team is required to assess the hazardous waste items. Accordingly, the Team made an effort to assess the quality/quantity of the waste materials based on various documents submitted by GPCB and other concerned agencies mentioned above. Some associated details have been highlighted in chapter –I above of this report. It is submitted that inbuilt Hazardous waste in the structure of the Ship or any such old ships of 1950s, are Asbestos Containing Material (ACM-in various form like insulating material, wall plate, ceiling, floor tiles etc)) and Material containing PCBs (like paints, cables, etc.).

Item-wise details are provided hereunder:

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.

It is worth mentioning that none of the aforesaid hazardous waste were found in the Ship on board in loose form or as a cargo by the Central Team.

It is to be noted that because of structure/type & nature of ACM/PCBs in the Ship Platinum-II or for that matter in any other Ship, it is a difficult task to exactly estimate the quantities of ACM, PCBs containing materials. However, it is worthwhile to mention that ACM and material containing PCBs in this ship must be lesser in quantity compared to that in earlier dismantled Ship ‘Blue Lady’, another passenger Ship, as that was much bigger than the Platinum-II. It was given to understand that ACM, PCBs and other hazardous wastes are to be disposed of as per procedures laid down by the Committee of Technical Experts/Hon’ble Supreme Court of India.

Used Lead Batteries
26 nos. Used Lead Acid Batteries which were used in the Ship were by the Team found during the inspection.

Radioactive Material
• During the inspection of Central Team, no radioactive material except in Smoke Detectors and few Exist Sign Boards (with very small amount of radioactive material) were found.
• As per established procedure, these radioactive materials will be disposed of at authorized radioactive waste management facility (BARC, Trombay)

GMB Regulation 2000
- For Protection of Environment and also of workers from fire and accidents during shipbreaking activities.

CPCB Guidelines
- Aims at minimizing the pollution impact of ship breaking activities fixing responsibility for several authorities of state government and shipbreaking association.


  • Clemenceau Case
  • Blue Lady Case
  • Platinum II Case

According to the Greenpeace fact sheet on the Clemenceau, in 1997, the Clemenceau was not used anymore as a warship.68 Since 1997, some parts of the Clemenceau have been sold to the Brazilian government that owns the Foch, which was its sister ship. The Clemenceau is supposed to host 130 tons of Asbestos and many other toxic wastes. First the warship was to be used as a lifelike target during high seas military exercises and sunk in the middle of the Ocean. This plan was cancelled. Then, the city of Marseille proposed in 2001 to sink the Clemenceau in the Mediterranean Sea as an ‘artificial reef’ but the warship had to be decontaminated of its most toxic wastes. In the end, the project was abandoned in 2003. The French government after all these unsuccessful plans decided to sell the Clemenceau to ship dismantling companies. The Clemenceau was then auctioned in the public market under the condition that it would be decontaminated of asbestos in Europe.

Pending decontamination, the French State stated that it would remain the registered owner of the Clemenceau. A Spanish company won the bid in April 2003. This company had attempted to resell the ship to a Turkish ship-breaker. However, the Turkish authorities refused to accept the ship because they considered that it would be an illegal trade in hazardous waste contrary to the Basel Convention. As the boat was being dragged to Turkey, the French Navy was forced to board the Clemenceau to impede the ship to be sent to Turkey. Then, in October 2003 ThyssenKrupp, the second-highest bidder won the contract to trade and scrap the Clemenceau. According to the Greenpeace fact sheet on the Clemenceau, the location clause of the contract allowed some of the decontamination work to be carried out in India. Indeed, the German Company struck a deal with Shriram Vessel Scrap Pvt. Ltd, a ship-breaking company in India. The warship was then sent by the German company to Greece supposedly to be decontaminated before going to India, but the Greek authorities refused the Clemenceau because they considered that they did not have the capacities to remove asbestos from such a big structure.

The Clemenceau returned to France and in 2004 a French company started superficial asbestos removal activities (30 per cent of asbestos was removed). In July 2005 another subcontractor started removal of asbestos but most of the asbestos was still within the ship (500 tons). In December, the Clemenceau left Toulon to be dismantled in Alang.72 In January 2006, the Supreme Court of India issued a temporary order stating that the Clemenceau could not enter Indian waters in order to be dismantled in Alang. The Court then constituted a Committee whose goal was to assess whether the Clemenceau should be dismantled or not. The Committee gave a split verdict on the issue, with seven members in favour of accepting the ship under strict conditions and three others recommending its return to France.

However, the Supreme Court of India, on 13 February, decided to create a new panel consisting of retired navy officers and other specialists to investigate again whether the former aircraft carrier should be allowed to enter the country in order to be broken at the Alang scrapping yard in Western Gujarat. This Committee never gave its point of view on the dismantling of the Clemenceau because Jacques Chirac ordered the Clemenceau on 15 February 2006 to return to French waters following the judgement of the Conseil d’Etat that considered such an operation illegal.


Research Foundation for Science Technology and Natural Resource Policy
Union of India and Others:

A public interest litigation challenging the import of hazardous wastes into the country was filed in 1995 in the Supreme Court of India by the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Natural Resource Policy. The petition provided that ‘the import of hazardous/toxic wastes endangering the environment and life of the people of India is unconstitutional’. It is under this writ petition, that in September 2007 the Supreme Court of India granted the permission to dismantle the Blue Lady at Alang. The Supreme Court ordered the constitution of a Committee of Technical Experts (CTE) whose task was ‘to find out whether the infrastructure as existing at Alang presently is adequate’ in order to dismantle the Blue Lady. The Supreme Court of India specifically asked the Committee to review 3 aspects:

 whether pre-conditions for dismantling have been complied with;
 whether 80% of the asbestos is reusable;
• what steps have been taken to control the environmental impacts of asbestos dust generated in the process of dismantling;

The report was submitted by the CTE on May 2007 and accepted by the Court on September 2007. The Supreme Court argued that it accepted the report mainly because ‘it was all pervasive and it contains opinions of expert including retired navel officers’. According to the report ‘beaching is an irreversible process’. On the issue of radioactive material the Supreme Court stated that an inspection was undertaken by Atomic Energy Regulatory Board and mentioned that ‘the apprehension expressed by the Petitioner was right’. But, surprisingly, the Supreme Court added that ‘as the matter stands today Atomic Regulatory Board has certified that the said vessel Blue Lady beached in Alang no more contains any radioactive material on board the ship’. The report of the CTE has recommended grant of permission for dismantling the ship Blue Lady at Alang in accordance with the recycling plan submitted by Priya Blue Industries. According to the recycling plan, all major quantity of asbestos (85%) is in form of wall partitions, ceilings and roofing in rooms and gallery and therefore it is reusable. However, the Committee recommended ‘appropriate respiratory protection to be provided and gears in the form of whole body coveralls, gloves, safety shoes, helmet, and goggles’ when asbestos is removed. The Supreme Court of India considered that the Report of the Committee of Technical Experts was ‘foolproof and had taken into account international standards to regulate ship breaking industry’. However, such opinion on the Committee of Technical Expert was methodically challenged by the NGO platform on shipbreaking that argued that the Committee did not properly assess the Blue Lady.

In the Blue Lady decision, the Supreme Court uses a specific rhetoric that emphasises that India needs the Blue Lady’s steel for its economic development. For example, it mentions that ‘breaking of the vessel Blue Lady will provide to this country 41,000 MT of steel and it would give employment to 700 workmen’ .

It then stresses that ‘India after globalisation is an emergent economy along with Brazil, Russia, and China with an economic growth of above nine per cent. However that growth is lop-sided. A large section of the population lives below poverty line. Unemployment is an endemic in India.

In other words, the Supreme Court is arguing that the dismantling of the Blue Lady is a great opportunity for India because it will help the development of the Indian economy. However, the Supreme Court does not take into consideration the highly probable negative consequences of the dismantling of the Blue Lady on the workers, the communities living in Alang and on the environment. The Court dilutes these negative impacts by applying the concept of sustainable development in such a way that it should respect the principle of proportionality based on the concept of balance of interest.

In 2003, the Supreme Court of India passed a very progressive and environmentally friendly decision on the regulation of ship dismantling in India. For example, unlike the 2007 judgment on the Blue Lady and its restrictive approach of sustainable development the 2003 decision provides that ‘in order to achieve sustainable development environmental protection shall constitute an integral part of the development process and cannot be considered in isolation from it’.46 Then the 2003 decision mentions that ‘the shipbreaking operation cannot be permitted to be continued without strictly adhering to all precautionary principles’. Moreover, the Supreme Court in the 2003 decision orders that ‘before a ship arrives at port, it should have proper consent from the concerned authority or the State maritime Board, stating that it does not contain any hazardous waste or radioactive substances onboard’.48 Finally the Supreme Court in this decision obliges that all ships ‘should be properly decontaminated by the ship owner prior to the breaking’. The Supreme Court decision on the Blue Lady case seems to have forgotten the previous orders it set in the 2003 decision. Such incoherence shows the biased behaviour of the Supreme Court of India in the Blue Lady case that is clearly privileging the interest of the dismantling companies over the interest of the workers and the environment.

Most of the ships that are sent to Alang to be dismantled without being decontaminated are ships that were owned by companies situated in OECD countries. However, in the European Union, for example, such practice is forbidden. Indeed, the European Union implemented the Ban Amendment of the Basel Convention that bans all exports of hazardous waste to non-OECD countries. This Amendment includes old ships sent for scrapping when they still contain hazardous wastes. In the case of ships it is, however, hard to enforce such regulation since it is difficult to control when ships are sent for scrapping. Therefore, better measures are needed to enable authorities in OECD countries that have implemented the Ban Amendmentto impede ships before being sent to India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh without being decontaminated of their hazardous waste. As an alternative to Basel Convention, the International Maritime Organisation is working on an international convention on ship dismantling that will provide certain environmental and safety standards.


Gopal Krishna of the NGO Indian Platform on Shipbreaking (IPoS) filed a petition against the move on Saturday. The petitioner has also sought a detailed report on the 5,000-odd ships being dismantled at the Alang ship-breaking yard since 1982.

Krishna has further urged in his plea to send the toxic ship out of Indian waters and order an inquiry into the circumstances under which the asbestos-laden vessel was granted entry. It also pleads for action against the concerned officials for alleged breach of the Basel Convention and US Maritime Laws, which prohibit export of hazardous substance for dismantling.

The Union ministry of environment and forests had ordered GMB in November 2009 not to allow the Platinum-II into Alang as its nationality, originality, and registration were suspect.The central government has told the authorities to investigate how Platinum-II was allowed to anchor at Alang despite orders from the Supreme Court and in violation of international covenants on keeping hazardous ships at bay.

A committee was formed by Central Government for the review of status of Platinum II where several allegations made by environmentalists were looked upon:

  • Questioning the anchorage permission given by GMB, the complainant has stated that besides violation of the Orders of US Environmental Protection Agency on Toxic Substances Control Act, the ship Platinum-II has violated Indian Supreme Court Order dated 14th October, 2003 and 6th September, 2007.
  • Whether quantification of the hazardous waste was submitted for desk review. Whether documents were submitted well in advance or it has been simultaneously submitted when the vessel reached at Bhavnagar and whether GMB and other agencies have verified the records. If these procedures were not complied with, on what basis GMB and others accorded anchorage permission and which agency is responsible for contempt of the court
  • After the issue of the Supreme Court Order, whether MoEF/CPCB has carried out review/monitor if the concerned agencies are implementing the Supreme Court order and how to ascertain if such irregularities exist at Alang port.
  • Whether CPCB has ever monitored asbestos fibre concentration in ambient air after the issue of the Order
  • Whether the recommendations of the Committee of Technical Experts have been implemented and whether any review has been done by MoEF/CPCB.
After much controversy and with demands that the ship be returned to the U.S. for being illegally exported, Platinum II was abandoned at Gopnath in a region south of the Alang on the Gujarat coast. Although she was probably no more toxic than most ships built in the 1950s and 1960s, she was deemed such for the minute amounts of radioactive materials found in her smoke detection systems and for the usual asbestos and PCB’s contained in ships of her generation.

According to local sources, Platinum II was laying off shore with guards on board to protect the ship from looting and vandals. Also, reports of the hull being cracked (an unsubstantiated charge made by the ship’s owners to urge the Gujarat Maritime Board to allow the ship to be beached in November) appeared to have some truth. The tug that delivered the ship into Gujarat waters had likely already been beached for scrapping, so another vessel would have been required to pull Platinum II off the embankment and bring her the short distance to Alang.

After running aground in February 2010 mud had made it into Platinum II’s cracked hull. In later news reports from India claimed the ship, aground and abandoned at Gopnath, some ten miles south of Alang, was beginning to suffer structural cracks and that she would never be able to move from her current resting place. In March 2010 the vessel’s hull cracked aft of the accommodation (roughly at one third of the length from the aft) and the whole hull was lying at an angle of about 35 degrees. The ship was scrapped on the spot throughout the remainder of 2010 and the wreck was reportedly completely gone by January 2011.

While under investigation by the Gujarati anti-terrorist unit for smuggling radioactive, hazardous, and toxic waste to organized crime, the former Independence was looted in May-June 2010 during a cyclone.


  • Outcome of Hypotheses
  • Conclusion
Outcome of Hypotheses

An inspection was carried out by the committee formed by Central Govt. which had presented its suggestions on the wreck. A detailed inspection was carried out and hazardous substances were found on the ship. There was no Environment Impact Assessment done by Central Government or State Government nor Gujarat Maritime Board. The main focus was on economic gains rather than environment concern, without following the provisions of Ports Act, 1981 the ship was allowed. Moreover any steamship cannot sail more than 20 years, which is the best prescribed time for proper functioning of any steamship and was not same in this case.

The Gujarat Maritime Board is environmentally least concerned which can be clearly derived from the present case. The basic objective is economic gain (which is termed as ‘development’) for them. GMB also conducts several Hazardous Waste Management seminars, which shows the intention as to more Platinum II are on the way to the Graveyard. Moreover any notification passed by GMB is subject to Judicial Review as it is included in definition of ‘State’ and also violation of constitutional rights.

The basic meaning of prospective overruling is to construe an earlier decision in a way so as to suit the present day needs, but in such a way that it does not create a binding effect upon the parties to the original case or other parties bound by the precedent. The use of this doctrine overrules an earlier laid down precedent with effect limited to future cases and all the events that occurred before it are bound by the old precedent itself. In simpler terms it means that the court is laying down a new law for the future.

There are 2 aspects to the doctrine of prospective overruling.

The first aspect was laid down by Lord Blackstone, according to this theory Judges don’t make the law; their job is to define the law. They should however follow the doctrine of Stare Decisis. The doctrine of Stare Decisis means “to stand by precedent and not to disturb the settled point of law”; the logic behind this doctrine is that people should not get confused as to what is legal and what is illegal.

The doctrine of prospective overruling originated from the American judicial system. It was for the first time laid down by Cardozo J. and Lerned Hand J. The doctrine aims at overruling a precedent without causing a retrospective effect. The concept of prospective overruling is now an integral part of legal systems world over.

The purpose of prospective declaration of law by the Supreme Court is to avoid reopening of settled issues and to prevent multiplicity of proceedings by implication, all contrary actions taken prior to such declaration stand validated. The subordinate courts are bound to apply the law to future cases only. Sometimes the Court itself may fix a date, decisions taken before which would not be disturbed, while invalidating a law or over ruling a decision. Thus the decisions taken by Supreme Court are best according to time and cannot be Criticized unde Doctrine of Prospective Overruling.


“This US ship is allowed, but this has opened the flood gates for some 300 obsolete toxic US ships waiting to be dumped in India and that’s a pill which Alang would not be able to D-I-G-E-S-T ”

This is not the first time that a ship regarded as toxic has been headed to Alang. Several hundreds of ageing vessels – many of them rich in hazardous material – end up on Alang’s beach before being torn apart by unskilled and ill-equipped laborers. The metal is then sold on as scrap.

In 2006, two ships Le Clemenceau and Blue Lady, which were heading to Alang for scrapping, ran into trouble when environmentalists drew attention to their highly hazardous contents.

While Clemenceau was eventually recalled by the French government, Blue Lady, which had close to 1,700 tons of hazardous material – two-and-a-half times more than that in the Clemenceau – was permitted by India’s Supreme Court to beach and be scrapped at Alang provided strict guidelines were followed to ensure worker safety. Greenpeace maintains that the Alang’s yards do not have the technology to safely dismantle these contaminated ships.

MSC Arabia, a cargo built in 1972 has reached in the Indian waters and is on its way to Alang. It is carrying the flag of Malta. Its IMO no. is 7121671. Its last known port was Jebel Ali.

MT MAR (Chemical Tanker) Arrived at Alang Anchorage on 07.05.2010, Purchased by plot No.9, LDT 9652 Charter Party Claim is there, hence end buyer dropped the deal. Waiting for new buyer. (Agent Natraj Shipping Agency)

MT Theressa-III (Chemical Tanker) Arrived at Alang Anchorage on 14.06.2010, Purchased by Plot No.24-B, LDT 5665 (Agent Demo Shipping Agency). Suspected of Aetomic waste on Board. GPCB yet to clear the ship.

MT Theressa-VIII (Chemical Tanker) Arrived at Alang on 19.06.2010, Purchased by Plot No.05, LTD 6329 (Agent Demo Shipping Agency) Suspected of Atomic waste on Board. GPCB yet to clear the ship.


Books Referred:

       Daniel Bodansky, Oxford Handbook on International Envrionment Law, Oxford University Press (July 2006).

Websites Referred:

     www.indianexpress.com/news/remove-platinumii - bhavnaga/579768/

Articles Referred:

       Florent Phelspy, “The Blue Lady Case And The International Issue Of Ship Dismantling”, LEAD Journal (Law, Environment and Development Journal)

Source: Legalsutra. (Accessed on 30 September 2011)