Pollution check after fire on asbestos filled aircraft carrier

A ship wrecking firm is being 'closely monitored' following a fire while it disposes of a French aircraft carrier laden with mercury, PCBs, lead and asbestos.

Clemenceau in France shortly before sailing to the UK to be scrapped

Clemenceau in France shortly before sailing to the UK to be scrapped

The blaze happened at Able UK, in Hartlepool, last Friday (12 February) and was brought under control by fire crews.

The aircraft carrier the Clemenceau, often just called simply le Clem, was being scrapped at the site, but was found to contain more asbestos than orginally though, which has slowed the work.

Able UK told the agency last year an 'unidentified asbestos veneer' had been discovered during preparatory works and the dismantling and recovery of the hull would now not be completed until February, 2010.

The ship has been controversial in the past with the French Government accused of breaking an international treaty by trying to scrap it in India cheaply in 2004.

However, the Environment Agency issued a waste management licence (now called an environmental permit) to Able UK on 25 June 2008 allowing it to dismantle ships at its facility in Graythorp, Hartlepool.

"Our priority is to ensure the hull, and waste in general, is dealt with in a manner that does not cause pollution of the environment," said Julian Carrington, area environment manager for the Environment Agency.

"Able UK has provided us with details of progress to date to recover the ship and a revised programme of works, with recovery planned for June 2010.

"We don't believe it is appropriate to make a final decision on enforcement action at this time, and will continue to monitor the recovery of in the coming months. We will review our position in July 2010."

Luke Walsh


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