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‘Toxic warship’ not wanted in Turkish port

A former French aircraft carrier is on route from Brazil to be scrapped in Turkey but ngo Shipbreaking Platform insists that sub-standard dismantling practices at its destination of Aliağa are in clear violation of the Basel Convention.

It is urging President Macron to order that the Foch, now known as the Sao Paulo, be towed to a different location for safe and legal recycling or reuse as France did with her sister carrier the Clemenceau over 15 years ago. Brazil bought the carrier in 2000. Brazil’s export and disposal plans in Turkey are ‘illegal and unsafe’, according to interest groups including Greenpeace.

‘History is sadly repeating itself,’ says toxic materials experts Annie Thébaud-Mony of Ban Asbestos France. ‘Will it be necessary for the citizen movement of many countries concerned to plead again in court to respect international law and respect of occupational and environmental health?’

She has previously slammed shipbreaking as an ‘industrial crime’, not least because the scrap contains asbestos. Official documentation records 6.9 tonnes of asbestos on board while the Clemenceau was reported to have over 600 tonnes of compromised scrap. Thébaud-Mony claims samples represent only 12% of the vessel and she cites these concerns in a letter to president Macron.

Asli Odman, consultant at the Istanbul Health and Safety Labour Watch, says long-lasting environmental and social rights violations are taking place in and around Aliağa. ‘This time, the populations of Aliağa and İzmir are organising energetically against this import and the lack of accountability in the shipbreaking sector.’

Jim Puckett of the Basel Action Network (BAN) adds: ‘What Turkey and Brazil are doing can best be called state-sponsored waste trafficking. We have cited chapter and verse of their treaty violations and yet they’ve responded with the bureaucratic equivalent of a shrug.’

BAN says it will do whatever it takes to enforce the treaty obligations of Turkey and Brazil.

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