The Supreme Court has imposed a ban on wrecking or removing parts of a radioactive-waste carrying ship named North Sea Producer.
A two-member bench of the High Court division headed by Justice Syed Refaat Ahmed and Justice Md Selim announced the verdict on Monday.
Chittagong’s Shitakunda-based ship breaking industry MS Janata Steel Corporation imported the ship for wrecking in August 2016. According to NGO Shipbreaking Platform, a Brussels-based international environmental agency, the ship is likely to be carrying a plenty of toxic wastes and a serious accident may take place during the shipwreck. The breaking of the ship off the coast of our country might pose a severe threat to health and environment.
It is internationally recognised that such oil-tankers like North Sea Producer carry NORM (Natural Occurring Radioactive Materials) including asbestos, polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB), ozone-depleting substances (ODS), led, mercury, chromium, zinc and other radioactive substances.
Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) filed a public interest litigation demanding a ban on the import, coasting and wreck of North Sea producer as the Janata Steel Corporation imported the ship violating country's conventional law and the order of the court.
After the primary hearing on June 8, the court ordered Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission, Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority and mega port initiative of Bangladesh Customs to submit a report within 10 weeks about the radioactivity of the ship.
Moreover, the court issued a rule asking why the previously issued clearances in favour of importing the vessel would not be declared illegal. It issued another rule asking the importer that why it should not appoint a foreign expert to ensure the safe wrecking of the ship.
Leading environmental lawyer Syeda Rizwana Hasan has been arguing the case in favour of BELA. Senior lawyer Barrister Rokonuddin Mahmud, Ehsanul Karim and Momtaz Uddin Mehedi participated the hearing from the defendant’s side.