Asbestos-laden ship returns to Holland

A ship carrying 54,000 kilos of asbestos is on its way back to the Netherlands after several Mediterranean countries refused to dismantle the vessel, the environment ministry said. The Otapan is currently in Greek waters but is returning to Holland because it would be irresponsible to let the ship continue sailing once the autumn storms start.

The ship could then become an environmental risk, the ministry said. It remained unclear on Monday whether the asbestos will be removed from the ship in the Netherlands and who will pay for the operation. The Otapan had been moored in Amsterdam since 1999 and left for Turkey to be demolished at the end of July. Turkey refused the ship entry, as did the Greek island of Lesbos and Malta. The Volkskrant claims the Turkish authorities feel they have been cheated by the environment ministry which signed an export licence on the grounds that the ship contained only 1,000 kilos of asbestos.
The Otapan is the second ship involving the Dutch to hit the headlines recently. Earlier this month seven people in the Ivory Coast died after toxic slurry from the Probo Koala was dumped there. The ship was initially to have been cleaned in Amsterdam but was forwarded after costs become too high.
On Monday BNR Nieuwsradio website reported that tests by the owners of the Probo Koala and those carried out by the French indicate that the ship’s slurry had contained little if any of the toxins that killed the seven and put thousands of others in hospital.

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