February 16, 2006
Chirac orders Clemenceau back to France
French President Jacques Chirac has ordered the decommissioned aircraft carrier Clemenceau back to French waters.
The action follows a long campaign by environmentalists to prevent the dismantling of the ship in India. Questions have been raised about exactly how much asbestos contractors actually removed from the ship before it left France--and how much remains to be removed.
President Chirac has ordered an expert inquiry into how much asbestos and other pollutants is still in the ex-Clemenceau.
The ship will be returned to French waters to be placed in a waiting place that offers "all guarantees of safety" until a dismantling solution can be found.
French press reports indicate that if that waiting place is Brest, then the Mayor of Brest will join the list of public officials who have objected to the ship's presence in their constituency.
Meantime, the Clemenceau is taking the long route back to France, to avoid any more hassles at the Suez Canal.
"This is a victory for international law, a victory for Indian workers, and a victory for workers all across Asia" said Pascal Husting, Greenpeace France Executive Director. "In today's globalized world it is vital that nations, such as France and India, cooperate to uphold global justice and not shamelessly pass on their responsibility to those in vulnerable areas of the planet".
Greenpeace has been mounting a campaign to halt the transfer of the ship that has included not only actions such as boarding the ship at sea and hanging banners on it, but lawsuits in both French and Indian courts.