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Google Map of FS Clemenceau (R 98)

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Clemenceau (R98), often affectionately called "le Clém'", was the 8th aircraft carrier of the French Navy. From the 1960s to the 1990s, she was the backbone of the French Navy, along with her sister-ship, the Foch. During her career, she sailed more than a million nautical miles in 3125 days at sea, on all the seas of the world. She was the second French warship to be named after Georges Clemenceau, the first one being a battleship of the Richelieu class, laid down in 1939 and never finished.

Involvement of Greenpeace
In December, before the ship started its sail to India, Greenpeace started protesting against France's attempts to dump the old 27,000-ton warship laden with toxics such as asbestos, PCBs, lead, mercury, and other toxic chemicals on India. It demanded that France should deal with its own toxic waste instead of shipping it to India, where the impoverished workers employed in a poorly managed shipbreaking industry would be exposed to these toxic waste resulting in injury and death. Greenpeace tried to block the departure of the ship from port of Toulon. They also said that the transportation of ship is in violation of Basel Convention.

On January 12 the ship reached Egypt, where it was boarded by two Greenpeace activists. [1] Egyptian authorities denied access to the Suez Canal, asking for a proof that the ship didn't violate the Basel Convention. On January 15 the ship was finally allowed to pass. This decision was heavily criticized by Greenpeace and other environmental groups.
Indian Stance
On January 6 the Supreme Court of India temporarily denied access to Alang since the ship contained tonnes of asbestos and the Basel Convention on hazardous waste prohibits the transportation of toxic materials from one country to another.
The Supreme Court of India constituted a Monitoring Committee (SCMC - Supreme Court Monitoring Committee on Hazardous Wastes) to look into the controversy. The committee submitted its interim report accordingly. Not satisfied with the committee's report, the Supreme Court on 13th February 2006 decided to constitute a new panel to go into the issue. The court directed the Government of India to suggest by February 17 the names of three or four retired Navy officers for appointment of a new panel.

On February 15, French President Jacques Chirac ordered Clemenceau to return to French waters and remain on standby following a ruling by France's highest administrative court, the Conseil d'État. The court acted on a complaint from Greenpeace regarding discrepancies in the amount of asbestos present in the ship, which Greenpeace contended would pose a severe health and environmental hazard in India. The issue now reverts to a Paris administrative court for further deliberations and rulings. The French Ministry of Defence announced an inquiry into the asbestos levels on the ship.


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