Daily Times – Agencies asked not to import vessel loaded with toxic chemicals

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4 October 2013 - A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) Ship-breaking Platform, which is an international NGO keeping an eye on the environmental aspects of ship-breaking industry throughout the world and its 18-member organisations, has called for southeast and south Asian countries, including Pakistan, to halt the import of damaged, presumably toxic European ship, which is suspected to have burnt containers and cargo that may contain a substantial amount of hazardous materials such as heavy metals or PCBs.

Moreover, the vessel is suspected to carry dangerous substances in fire fighting water as well as a significant amount of fuels and oil. This container ship caught fire in July and was later towed to Port-Louis in Mauritius.

WWF-Pakistan considers that this ship if imported to Pakistan may cause severe marine pollution in the Gadani area, which is already stressed because of a number of economic and industrial activities. Unplanned construction such as Fish harbour has already had serious environmental impact in the area, which is also designated as energy corridor and construction of power plants may have impact on the marine environment of the area unless proper mitigative measures are taken. According to WWF-Pakistan Technical Adviser (Marine Fisheries) Muhammad Moazzam Khan, the area of the Gadani is a part of Sonmiani, which is considered to have a rich marine biodiversity especially around Churna and Kaio islands. Dumping of toxic waste might seriously harm the fragile ecosystem of the area.

WWF-Pakistan Director Rab Nawaz asked Federal Board of Revenue, port authorities, Balochistan Environmental Protection Agency and Pakistan Customs to keep a vigil so that unscrupulous elements may not be able to import this European container vessel for recycling. This will be necessary for the protection of marine life as well as humans from ill effects of toxic chemicals.