India's Supreme Court Says the "Exxon Valdez" can Continue to the Scrap Heap
One month after the Gujarat Maritime Board granted permission to the Oriental Nicety to anchor off of the coast of Alang for inspection, the ex-Exxon Valdez is headed into the hands of ship-breakers.
After Gujarat maritime authorities certified that the vessel did not contain any hazardous substances, the Supreme Court ruled that the old Exxon vessel can be brought to shore and dismantling can begin.In addition, the owners are required to pay for disposal of any toxic materials found onboard the ship.
The court also stated that from this point on, any ship brought in for dismantling, will have to show compliance of the Basel Convention, or will immediately be turned back to their country of origin.
The ruling was disappointing to Gopal Krishna, of the Toxic Watch Alliance, who commented, “Exxon Valdez did not follow the Basel Convention and therefore according to the judgment dated 7/6/2012 it should have been sent back to the country of export. The Court ought to have applied Precautionary Principle not for the purpose of dismantling the ship but for sending it back because the principle implies that the pollution of hazardous nature has to be avoided particularly when its impact on environment and human health are not known.”
The vessel is currently owned by Hong Kong-based Best Oasis, a subsidiary of Priya Blue. Priya Blue is a ship scrapping and salvage company that regularly buys up old ships such as the "Exxon Valdez". Many of the company's acquisitions are moved to the shores of India, where some of the world's biggest ship breakers work salvaging end-of-life ships.
The Exxon Valdez gained its noteriety in 1989, when it ran aground on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound spilling roughly 38,500 tons of crude into the pristine Gulf of Alaska waters. The ship was bound for Long Beach, captained by Joeseph Hazelwood.
The vessel would go through many name changes and ports after the Alaska spill. It had four different monikers until it became the Dong Fang Ocean in 2008. In 2010, the Dong Fang Ocean had another mishap, colliding with the Maltese flagged Aali in the South China Sea. Both vessels were severely damaged in the collision.
The ship was purchased by Global Marketing Systems in 2012 and sailed to Singapore where she went on the market to scrap merchants. From there she was routed to Alang.