Note: The supposed Greek owner of Platinum II (SS Oceanic, SS Independence)
is Mr. Dimitris Koukas, President/Director of Platinum Investment Services,
and also Managing Director of Optima Shipbrokers Ltd. He is also listed as a
business “reference” on GMS’ website. See Mr. Dimitris Koukas, Athens,
Greece, Office +30 210-9658212, Mobile +30 6932403139

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Gopal Krishna <>
Date: Tue, Dec 29, 2009 at 7:59 PM
Subject: Violation of Environment Ministry's order dated 9th November,
Supreme Court order, US Toxic Substances Control Act, Basel Convention &
Stockholm Convention
To: sarojmoef <>


Focal Point,
Basel Convention,
Hazardous Substances Management Division,
Union Ministry of Environment & Forests

Subjcet-Violation of Environment Ministry's order dated 9th November,
Supreme Court order, US Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), Basel
Convention & Stockholm Convention on Persistant Organic Pollutants

Dear Dr Saroj,

Pursuant to our earlier communications, this is to inform you that few days
back I got a letter from Mr M Subba Rao, Director, Union Ministry of
Environment & Forests dated 16 December, 2009 in response to my letter dated
10th December, 2009 "regarding "Platinum -II" raising certain issues
relating to the ownership and port of registry of the ships arriving at
Alang for breaking purposes."  He wrote, "Since Ministry of Steel is the
nodal Ministry for shipbreaking activities in the country, your
representation has been forwarded to the Ministry of Steel (copy enclosed
for ready reference)."

I am aware that Inter-Ministerial Committee on Shipbreaking was constituted
under the Supreme Court's order and I have been in corresponsence with it. I
disagree with the submission made by Mr Subba Rao in his letter sent to the
Ministry of Steel wherein he refers to aletter of Gujarat Maritime Board
(GMB) dated 1/12/2009 saying that it cannot be refloated and has been now
defined 'wreck'.  He notes that the GMB has informed that "as per the
directions of DG Shipping, removal of wreck is the responsibility of the
state authorties  concerned. A decision is to be taken by the State
Government regarding removing the wreck  to avoid any untoward accident." I
submit that its once again a case of creating a fait accompli and a way to
outwit the order of the environment ministry which had the explicit approval
of the Hon'ble Union Environment Minister wherein the precautionary
principle was invoked.

This blatant attempt to skirt US law, UN law, the Indian Supreme Court order
and the the order of the Union Environment Minister must not go
unchallenged. It’s time for the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Shipbreaking
and Environment Ministry to stand strong against these corporate veils
created by the shipping companies and in support of environmental justice.
The US toxic ship must be sent back as has been established in a similar
case of Le Clemenceau, the French ship.

The Union Environment Ministry's order
your signature had asked GMB to probe the dubious ownership of the
ship. So far the same has not been done. I wish to inform you that I just
got to know that Shiv Ship Breaking Company is reported to be the new player
in the case of US dead ship Platinum II (SS Oceanic, SS Independence). This
new company in question works at Plot No. 36 in Alang with its office in
S/10, Surya Darshan Complex, Rubber Factory Circle, Bhavnagar-364 001. Its
contact numbers are as under: Tele: (O) (0278)2511211, (W) (02842)235510 (R)
2428397, Fax: 2426050, E-Mail, Contact Person:
Hareshbhai Parmar (9825018111) & Rameshbhai (9825205133).

I wish to reiterate that the arrival of the dead US ship Platinum II (SS
Oceanic, SS Independence) violates the UN's Basel Convention on on
Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal to which India
is a Party. Under that United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) treaty,
India is not allowed to receive hazardous waste from the USA. Nor can it
receive hazardous waste from any foreign source without prior notification
of arrival and consent from the Indian government. No such notification or
consent was provided in advance of the sudden arrival of the toxic ship.
Further, the ship's arrival violated the Supreme Court of India’s order of
14th October 2003 and 6th September 2007, which calls for the pre-cleaning
of ships of all toxic substances prior to importation.

The incident is reminiscent of the infamous export of the French Aircraft
Carrier Le Clemenceau, which in 2006 was exported to India for breaking from
France. French courts finally realized the export was a violation of the
Basel Convention and demanded the return of the ship.

The arrival of Platinum II (SS Oceanic, SS Independence) off the Gujarat
beaches makes India an international crime scene, with the US Maritime
Administration (MARAD) abetting such crimes. The last time something like
this happened, the authorities of the exporting country called the ship back
and took responsibility. As you are aware I had  called on the authorities
of India and the US to do nothing less. The Platinum II (SS Oceanic, SS
Independence) now rests at anchorage off Gopnath point approximately 40
nautical miles from the Alang coast while Indian state authorities decide
her fate. GMS denies any ownership of the vessel or of the mystery firm
Platinum Investment Services Corp.

The ship had violated U.S. Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Exporting
PCB material from the US is a violation of the Toxics Substances Control
Act. Besides the ship entered Indian waters in violation of the Basel
Convention (of which US is a non-party) and UN's Stockholm Convention on
Persistant Organic Pollutants.

In its order on US Ship "Platinum -II (formerly SS Oceanic, SS Independence)
dated 9th November, 2009, the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests
cited the precautionary principle and the fact that the ship not only
appeared to arrive in India with false documentation but also the fact that
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took legal action against
Global Marketing Services (GMS) and sister company Global Shipping LLC
(GSL), both companies set up by the notorious ship breaker Mr. Anil Sharma,
for exporting the ship from San Francisco, California in 2008 in violation
of the U.S. Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

The Platinum II arrived in Indian waters for scrapping on 8 October 2009
with papers saying its flag was that of the Republic of Kiribati and that it
was owned by Platinum Investment Services of Monrovia, Liberia. We later
received official confirmation from the Operations Manager at Kiribati Ship
Registry, Liau Siew Leng, that the registration was a forgery. The Kiribati
Ministry of Communications, Transport & Tourism Development Office further
confirmed the falsified documents. The fraudulent ship registry is likely a
violation of maritime law of the United States, India and Kiribati.

The United States Maritime Administration (MARAD) allowed the vessel to be
sold to a non-citizen in April 2008 under the blanket approval in 46 C.F.R.
221.13. This general approval however did not grant approval for the sale of
the vessel for scrapping in a foreign country. The vessel remains under the
US flag and cannot be scrapped without MARAD’s approval. It is suspected
that avoidance of US government scrutiny and denial of reflag permission for
the purposes of scrapping is the rationale for the falsified

I am still hopeful that the violations of Environment Ministry's order dated
9th November, Supreme Court order, US Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA),
Basel Convention & Stockholm Convention on Persistant Organic Pollutants
would not be allowed and a strong message would be sent to those India's
environmental borders with impunity due to the indulgence of some officails.
I feel that Platinum II provides your ministry, an oppurtunity to set
matters right else we would end opening the flood gates of all the rotten
ships of the developed countries like US. I am really hopeful that there
would be no need to take matter to the apex court.

Yours faithfully
Gopal Krishna
Indian Platform on Shipbreaking/ToxicsWatch
New Delhi
Mb: 9818089660

P.S: I wish to place on record my disagreement with the claims made in a
written reply by the Ministry of Steel in the Rajya Sabha on December 11,
2009 saying, "Ship breaking activities are undertaken at Alang and the
operational procedures are being followed as per the directions issued by
the Hon’ble Supreme Court. As per the order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of
17.02.2006, a Central Technical Committee (CTC) under the Chairmanship of
Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests was set up to regulate
various activities of ship breaking industries. The CTC gave its
recommendations touching all aspects of ship breaking. The recommendations
are operative by virtue of the Supreme Court Order dated 6.9.2007." The fact
is that almost all the relevant orders of the court has been violated.  Most
starkly, the apex court order of 2007 states, "It is desirable that the
Government of India shall formulate a comprehensive Code incorporating the
recommendations and the same has  to be operative until the concerned
Statutes are amended to be in line with the recommendations." But so far the
court's order even with regard to the Code has not been complied with
although more than two years have passed since the judgement dated 6.9.2007.

The alarming rise in the rate of reported death of workers in Alang is
contrary to the Ministry's claim that "Based on the report received from
Gujarat Maritime Board, it is stated that at present, there are around
17000-18000 trained labours engaged in ship recycling at Alang by the Ship
Recyclers." The MInister's statement is inconsistent with what has routinely
appeared even in the local and national media. In 2009 alone, too many fatal
accidents have occurred. It is estimated that 3-5 workers die every month
either from occupational disease from shipborne hazardous substances like
asbestos or PCBs, or from explosions, fires and other accidents. The primary
reason why workers die in
a regular manner is that the shipowners of the developed countries like US
and from Europe have escaped the decontamination cost of obsolete ships with
impunity due to the active connivance of Indian officials. Since 1983, the
shipbreakers have blindly profited from such a situation at the cost of
workers' life, villagers health and toxic pollution.

On 4 August, 2009, 6 workers perished in a tanker fire at the yards in Alang
beach that took 6 hours to extinguish. These six labourers were burnt alive
in an engine room at Alang ship breaking yard on on plot no. 24 at Alang
beach despite the fact that UN’s International Maritime Organisation has
certified Alang beach as a safe place for hazardous industrial activity like
ship dismantling. The incident took place when some workers of Alang Auto &
General Engineering Co. (P) Ltd were cutting down the engine portion of ship
‘M S Jesica’ in the world’s largest ship scrapping yard. The fire officials
took almost three hours to douse the blaze. The exact cause of fire is yet
to be ascertained. The company is owned by Udai Agarwal and Abhinav Kumar.
 Earlier, two fatal accidents have been reported in May and June 2009. The
earlier accident that occurred on the 1st June, 2009 on Plot 15 of the
ship-breaking yard involved a labourer identified as Ayodhyasingh Rajput.
Such fatal accident occurred at Plot 24 D in May, 2009 as well. Similar
accidents were reported in earlier and later months as well. Each time
'negliegence' is cited as reason and the matter is dismissed.

The revealed cruel passivity in its response to the deaths of migrant
workers in Alang so far must be done away and more sensitivity should be
used in dealing with victims of  environmental and occupational hazards. It
has not ascertained the plight of migrant workers working and their living
environment at Alang beach and also to explore whether the industrial
activity can be taken off the beach. The Supreme Court order of October 14,
2003 and September 6, 2007 led to the creation of an Inter-Ministerial
Committee (IMC) comprising Ministry of Surface Transport, Ministry of Steel,
Ministry of Labour and Ministry of Environment and Forests was constituted
and its continuance. Para 58 of the 2003 order and para 8 of 2007 order
reads, "According to the recommendation of HPC, the Iner-Ministerial
Committee (IMC) comprising Ministry of Surface Transport, Ministry of
-Steel, Ministry of Labour and Ministry of Environment should be constituted
with the involvement of Labour and Environment organizations and
representatives of the ship breaking Industries." Involvement of labour and
environment organisations in compliance of the court's specific order has
not been ensured as was required as per the order.

*The shipping industry which dominates the International Maritime
Organization (IMO) has adopted a regressive treaty on shipbreaking/ship
recycling in May 2009. This effort of IMO has been condemned by the civil
society groups as an industry “greenwash” of the horrific status quo. IMO
officials have even called the shipbreaking beaches in Alang where workers
die routinely, as being “very satisfying.” Contrary to the claims of the
IMO, the brutal death of these workers stand as a stark testament to the
unsuitability of using ocean beaches for the safe and sound recycling of
ships.“Such practices would never be allowed in the UK and it should not be
allowed in any country in the world. Shipping companies like Norwegian
Cruise LIner/ Star Cruise and others must be made liable and accountable for
decontamination costs which they are attempting to escape for good. They
should not be allowed to make the laws by which they will insulate
The continued embargo on both national and international media which stops
journalists and researchers from entering the “beaches” is meant to hide
these “grave yards” of workers and coastal communities from public
attention. It is an unpardonable colossal failure of IMO to allow the ship
dismantling/recycling industry to contaminate the fragile coastal
environment like beaches.”  In Europe, government owned ships are being
broken only in sophisticated yards located in developed countries while
commercial vessels are still too often exported even when such exports
violate the law. Just this year, the Able UK shipyard, received the French
Aircraft Carrier Clemenceau after French courts ruled that export to India
was illegal under the Waste Shipment Regulation. It took over 18 months to
decontaminate the ship.

Enviro-occupational hazards induced injury and disease happen in a routine
manner in Alang. Union Environment Secretary headed Supreme Court-appointed
committee in its report has revealed that the fatal accident rate in Alang
is in the range of 2 per 1000 as opposed to 0.34 per 1000 in the mining
industry (which is considered worst in the industrial sector). Besides
accidents ship-breakers who employ workers on contract never monitor the
impact on their health of the toxic substances they are exposed to. Given
the lack of monitoring/medical survelliance or tracking of workers who are
all migrant workers, its very difficult to ascertain the real health impact
on the workers, which we belive to be quite grave. A occupational health
survey conducted by the National Institute of Occupational Health of workers
at the ship-breaking yards in Alang found that 16 % of the workers examined
were exposed to asbestos that leads to incurable lung cancer and other
diseases. A recent Central Pollution Control Board study recommends that
workers who handle asbestos must be permanentlt employed but it had not been
implemented either in the shipbreaking industry or in the asbestos industry.

*With regard to rampant manufacturing and cooking of documents underway in
Alang, the papers of most of these more than 700 ships that entered Indian
waters must be  investigated and the likelihood of they having violated both
the international and national laws ought to be looked into.* Professor
M.G.K. Menon, the distinguished scientist who headed the Supreme Court's
High Powered Committee on Management of Hazardous Wastes had written to the
Chief Justice of India "in a personal capacity as someone who is interested
as a citizen of the country." He emphasised that the obsolete ships be
"properly decontaminated by the ship-owner prior to the breaking in the
country of export." He wrote: "Any effort to dilute the Supreme Court orders
of October 14, 2003 to try to remove the concept of prior decontamination
would be a measure going against the interests of workers in the
ship-breaking yards as also a violation of the Basel Convention."

The case of fake documents in the case of dead US ship Platinum II (SS
Independence, SS OCeanic) reveals the hollowness of Union Steel Ministry's
claim that "Pursuant to the directives of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, a
series of measures have been taken for attenuating the hazards of ship
breaking and for improving the working conditions at ship-breaking yards.
Consequently, detailed protocols and procedures have been put in place for
scrutinizing ships arriving for breaking and for handling and disposing of
hazardous materials and wastes. The provisions of existing rules take
adequate care of the hazards of ship breaking. Further, as and when any
shortcomings are noticed, remedial steps are taken."  Besides civil society
groups, even industry has voiced its concerns. Notably, "The government has
rejected this ship for fabrication of document. It's the first time that the
this issue has come up though it is rampant -- ships are brought in without
clear identification of the owners and the port of registration. It's
important to correct this for the security of the country and the
shipbreakers," said Pravin Nagarsheth, president of the Iron Steel Scrap and
Shipbreaking Association of India as reported in The Times of India (10
November 2009).

In the light of the above, the government must ensure that economics of
ship-breaking/recycling is not be built on the destroyed lives of those who
dismantle the ships. IMO Convention on ship recycling is anti-worker and
anti-environment and is contrary to Prof. Menon's sane advice and our
Supreme Court's order. Therefore, to protect the interest of the workers and
the Alang beach must be protected by refusing to support the regressive text
the IMO treaty.


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