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Parliamentary questions
20 December 2010
Question for written answer
to the Commission
Rule 117
Franz Obermayr (NI)

 Subject: Scrapping of the Blue Lady, the former Norway (previously the France)

The France plied the Le Havre to New York route from 1962. With 175 000 HP and consumption of 800 t of heavy oil for one day’s service, she had a maximum speed of 35.21 knots and was, after the United States, the second fastest transatlantic liner (the speed of present-day passenger vessels ranges between 18 kn and 22 kn). In 1974, 70 % of transatlantic traffic was already being carried by air; because of the oil crisis, France cut the subsidies for the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique and invested in the Concorde. In 1979 the France was bought by Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL), converted into a cruise ship (for cost reasons the forward engine room was dismantled, and the outboard propellers were removed, reducing the operating speed to 18 kn), renamed the Norway, and adapted in 1998 in accordance with the SOLAS arrangements. On 25 May 2003, eight crewmen died when a boiler exploded. The Norway was towed to Bremerhaven to be repaired with a view to being put back into service in October 2003; eventually NCL announced that she would be sold for scrap. On 23 May 2005 she was towed out of Bremerhaven and reached Port Klang in August 2005. In spite of the 1 000 t of asbestos on board, the plan was that she should be scrapped in Bangladesh, but the country’s authorities refused to allow it. In 2006 she was sold to an Indian company and renamed the Blue Lady for her final voyage. India gave permission in that year for the vessel to be broken up, notwithstanding the high concentrations of harmful substances, and the Blue Lady was beached in Alang in August 2006. It emerged in July 2007 that the on-board smoke detectors, of which there were about 5 500, were of a type using the radioactive isotope americium-241 and would require special handling when they were disposed of. On 11 September 2007 the Indian Supreme Court declared the vessel safe for dismantling, and the operation was completed in 2008.

1. Did the Norway’s departure from Germany constitute a breach of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal? Should the vessel have been decontaminated before being taken to Germany (the country of origin within the meaning of the Basel Convention)?

2. What is the Commission’s attitude to the scrapping of vessels in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, where the conditions are such that human health and the environment are not properly protected? What progress has been made with the plans to press for binding global rules on dismantling?

Original language of question: DEOJ C 279 E, 23/09/2011
Last updated: 10 January 2011Legal notice