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Postby shipstamps » Thu Jul 03, 2008 6:29 am

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(Although this A/C Carrier does not feature on a stamp, I thought this article might be of interest to ship lovers.)

An asbestos-laden French aircraft carrier that was too toxic for Indian breakers is to be towed to a North East yard for dismantling.
The agreement to send the Clemenceau, once the flagship of the French Navy, to Able UK, on the River Tees near Hartlepool, ends an embarrassing five-year saga during which the ship wandered the seas in a vain search for a final resting place.
The stripped-down hulk has been moored off Brest since 2006, when the French President then, Jacques Chirac, recalled her from India after outcry by politicians and environmentalists. The Socialist Opposition at the time denounced Mr Chirac for "lecturing the world on the environment while having other countries deal with our toxic ships".
The French Defence Ministry awarded the contract, worth up to €4 million (£3 million), to Able UK yesterday after the British Environment Agency issued a waste management licence that allows the firm to dismantle ships and oil rigs at its recycling facility at Graythorp, Teesside.
The Health and Safety Executive exempted Able from sections of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 in order to let it take on the Clemenceau but it imposed strict conditions.
Environmental campaigners opposed the break-up of the Clemenceau in Britain but Able convinced them that its methods for decontaminating the asbestos were reliable.
Ingvild Jenssen, of the Brussels-based Platform on Shipbuilding, a coalition of 14 environmental organisations including Greenpeace, said that Able appeared to have the necessary controls to protect workers.
"Overall we are happy to see the ship going to the UK rather than India," he said. "As far as we know now, Able does have all its environmental permits and planning permits."
Hull Q790 — as the former pride of the French Navy is now named — will be towed to the dry dock next month.
A team of 200 workers will break the ship down over ten months.
The "soft strip" will involve removing non-metallic items, including furniture, carpets, doors, plastics and asbestos contaminated materials.
Then all liquids will be drained. Finally, the teams will begin dismantling the ship from each end.
The decision will be a relief to the Breton port, which has had the hulk on its skyline for the past two years.
The 266-metre (878ft) vessel saw action off Lebanon in the 1980s and in the Gulf in 1991.
She was decommissioned in 1997 and initially docked in the Mediterranean port of Toulon. (Times 1st July 2008.)
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