The government yesterday directed all departments concerned not to allow the highly toxic ship “J Nat” to enter Bangladeshi territory.
This ship, currently on its way to Chattogram from Indonesia, is illegally carrying around 1,500 tonnes of mercury mixed waste.
The government also warned all members of the Bangladesh Ship Breakers and Recyclers Association (BSBRA) not to purchase the ship.
The Daily Star published a report on April 30 titled “Toxic ship heading for Bangladesh”.
“After seeing the newspaper report, we have already requested the Bangladesh Navy and the armed forces divisions not to allow the ship into Bangladeshi territory,” AKM Shamsul Arefin, additional secretary, ship recycling wing, told The Daily Star yesterday.
“We have also informed the director general of the environment and explosion division regarding the matter. There is no way the ship is coming to Bangladesh,” he added.
The ship started from Batam of Indonesia towards Chattogram on April 18 and was supposed to reach Bangladesh on May 7.
Following the report published by this newspaper, the Chattogram chapter of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (Bapa) issued a protest statement.
Documents obtained by The Daily Star show the vessel contains around 1,500 tonnes of mercury-contaminated waste, 60 tonnes of sludge oil, 1,000 tonnes of slop oil, and 500 tonnes of oily water on board.
Samples of the sludge have revealed mercury levels of 395mg/kg, according to lab results obtained by NGO Shipbreaking Platform.
The Hazardous Waste and Ship-breaking Waste Management Rules list mercury and mercury compounds as hazardous if their concentration exceeds 50 mg/kg.
Like other end-of-life ships, J Nat also has toxins such as Polychlorinated Biphenyls, asbestos and other different heavy metals within its structures.
If dumped in Bangladesh, the waste will pose a serious threat to the environment.
The NGO Shipbreaking Platform issued a briefing paper on J Nat titled “Export of toxic vessel in breach of international law” on April 19.
The paper states that the Indonesian authorities appear not to have informed Bangladesh about the presence of hazardous waste and material in the vessel in violation of article VI of the Basel Convention.
Last year, following a writ petition, the High Court observed that all permissions purportedly given for import, beaching, breaking, cutting, or dismantling of vessels that are deficient in form and content, are illegal, without lawful authority and detrimental to public interest.
It was delivered on November 14, 2019, in response to a public interest litigation filed by Bangladesh Environment Lawyer Association (Bela) about the importing and scrapping of MT Producer, a toxic ship similar to J Nat.
The court said, “The circumstances of the import of the vessels into Bangladesh are, hereby, declared to constitute illegal traffic of a toxic ship into our territory.”
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