The Clemenceau Comes Home!
On May 17, 2006, the Clemenceau, now officially named Hull Q790, limped into its home port of Toulon, France after the failure of its £20 million 12,000 mile quest to find an Asian scrapyard willing to decommission it.1 As it wandered the seas, Le Clemenceau, formerly a flagship of the French Navy, had become a symbol of Western hypocrisy. In October 2003 it set sail from Toulon headed toward Turkey but was stopped by the French military. In November 2003, after it was refused entry to Greece, it returned to Toulon. A Court ruling in December 2005, permitted the Clemenceau to depart for India only to be refused entry by the Indian Government in February 2006.
The French Government, which was found guilty of attempts to break French law and international protocols, is now accepting bids for the removal of contaminated waste, including tonnes of asbestos, from the ship. The campaign by international NGOs and protestors in France, India, Egypt and Bangladesh, which had publicized the issues raised by the Clemenceau, has succeeded. Annie Thebaud-Mony of the NGO Platform on Shipbreaking says:
The Clemenceau is back but it has nowhere to go for proper decontamination and recycling. The European Union has banned the export of hazardous waste to developing countries but has failed to create a solution for proper pre-cleaning and dismantling in Europe.
This ship is just one of more than 2,000 which will need to be decommissioned within the coming decade. Karine Appy, a member of the NGO Platform on Shipbreaking, says urgent action is needed:
So far nobody has been willing to take responsibility, least of all the Navies of the world or the global shipping industry it's clear the European Union governments must stop sitting on their hands, stand up and safely manage their own ships.
May 21, 2006