The Supreme Court today granted permission for controversial US ship Oriental Nicety, earlier known as ‘Exxon Valdez’, involved in one of the worst US oil spills off Alaska in 1986, to beach at Gujarat coast and permitted its owner to dismantle the vessel.
A bench of justices Altamas Kabir and J.Chelameshwar passed the order after considering the various reports submitted by the Centre, Gujarat Maritime Board and the Atomic Regulatory Board that the ship was free from hazardous material.
The bench said “we direct the concerned authorities to allow the ship in question to beach and permit the ship owner to proceed with the dismantling of the ship after complying with all the requirements of the Gujarat Maritime Board, the Gujarat Pollution Control Board and the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board.
“It is made clear that if any toxic wastes embedded in the ship structure are discovered during its dismantling, the concerned authorities shall take immediate steps for their disposal at the cost of the owner of the vessel, M/s Best Oasis Ltd, or its nominee or nominees,” the bench said in its order.
The apex court also said that in all future cases of similar nature, the authorities shall strictly comply with the norms laid down in the Basel Convention.
Owners of the ship M/s Best Oasis Ltd had denied the allegation that the ship contain hazardous material and sought permission for beaching and anchoring on the ground that it was incurring huge demurrage charges.
The Centre’s senior counsel Ashok Bhan had submitted the Union Shipping Ministry had no say in the matter as the Gujarat Maritime Board had found that the ship had been converted from an oil tanker to a bulk carrier in 2008 and there was no sign of any hazardous/toxic substance on board as informed by the state’s counsel Hemantika Wahi.