The High Court today declared the authorities’ permission for importing, beaching and scrapping of radiation contaminated vessel MT Producer (North Sea Producer), now at a ship-breaking yard in Chattogram, illegal.
Observing that all the relevant domestic and international laws have been violated in these ship-breaking activities, the HC directed that no ship can be allowed to be imported and reach to the ship breaking yards which violate the conditions of environmental clearance certificates.
Delivering verdict on a writ petition, the HC ruled that the cash buyers and other agencies concerned who give certificates whether the ships are free from contamination and hazardous wastes will be listed and controlled strictly by the relevant rules of laws.
Necessary steps must be taken to control the import of ships from the countries holding “Gray” and “Black” flags in order to get authentic information whether the ships contain toxic wastes and to prevent their flags.
It means that the steps will have to be taken to control the import ships from the countries which run ships in violation of international laws—like Comoros, Palau, Cambodia, Tanzania, Vanuatu, St. Kitts and Nevis, Belize, Cook Islands, Sierra Leone, Togo etc, writ petitioner’s lawyer Advocate Syeda Rizwana Hasan told The Daily Star.
The HC ordered the department of environment (DoE) not to allow any import and beaching of any ship for breaking in the country without getting complete and detailed information about their wastes.
The DoE must follow the rules of domestic and international laws in this regard, the HC said.
The HC asked the Health Physics and Radioactive Waste Management Unit (HPRWMU) of Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) to adopt an action plan to complete 100 percent scrutiny about the contamination and wastes of the MT Producer.
The action plan will be developed under the supervision of BAEC, Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority and Mega Port Authority and in presence of a senior scientist, the court said, adding that Janata Steel Corporation (Ship Breaking Yard) who imported the ship will bear the cost of the scrutiny activities, but cannot participate in the scrutiny activities.
The HC said DoE can order Janata Steel Corporation as per the environment conservation law to compensate for polluting the environment by violating the conditions of the environmental clearance certificate.
The court, however, lifted its earlier order that halted scrapping of MT Producer vessel and removal of its waste, as some of its parts have already been broken.
The HC bench of Justice Syed Refaat Ahmed and Justice Md Salim came up with verdict after holding hearing a writ petition filed by Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (Bela) in 2017 seeking necessary order.
A Bela press release said that the industries ministry, DoE and other relevant agencies have submitted separate reports to the HC, allowing import of MT Producer into the country, its beaching and breaking in the ship breaking yard, which was declared unlawful and illegal by the court.
Janata Steel Corporation’s lawyer Advocate Ahsanul Karim told The Daily Star that MT Producer vessel can be scrapped following all relevant rules of laws and the HC directives.
Following the same writ petition, another HC bench led by Justice M Enayetur Rahim on August 29, 2017 halted scrapping of MT Producer as a radioactive material has been found in one of its pipes.
Bela submitted the writ petition as supplementary to a pending writ petition, saying that the representatives from the DoE, BAEC, BAERA, and the Marine Port Initiative of Bangladesh Customs have visited 11 points of the MT Producer and prepared a report on their findings.
In the report, they said Gamma Radiation Dose Rate in one point of the 11 points is much more than the Background Radiation Level, which is harmful for public health, Bela said in the supplementary petition, adding if the ship is scrapped, accidents might take place.
Advocate Sayeed Ahmed Kabir also appeared for the writ petitioner.