POST Online Media Lite Edition


NGOs urge Bangladesh to halt import of highly toxic offshore unit from Indonesia

Christian Fernsby |
The Floating Storage and Offloading (FSO) tanker J. NAT, formerly known as JESSLYN NATUNA, operated in the Natuna gas field and was owned by Indonesian company Global Niaga Bersama PT.

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It was recently sold to cash buyer SOMAP International, who re-named it to J. NAT and re-flagged it to Palau.

SOMAP is a company specialised in trading end-of-life vessels to the beaching yards.

The FSO J. NAT left Indonesian waters on 18 April even though local activists warned Indonesian authorities about the toxicity of the vessel.

Official documents indicate that the tanker has more than 1500 tons of hazardous waste from the oil extraction process onboard, including 1000 tons of slop oil, 500 tons of oily water and 60 tons of sludge oil contaminated with high concentration of mercury.

The J. NAT likely also contains high amounts of mercury in its structures, as well as in ballast waters.

The NGO Shipbreaking Platform, Basel Action Network (BAN), European Environmental Bureau (EEB), IPEN, Nexus3 Foundation and Zero Mercury Working Group have now warned Bangladesh of the breach of international waste laws, and urged authorities to halt the import of the contaminated ship.

Ignoring illegal acts risks exposing the workers to severe harm and polluting the environment of Bangladesh.

Given the likely high concentrations of mercury in the steel hull of the FSO J.

NAT and the blow torch method used to cut vessels, there is a high risk of inhalation of mercury vapour.

Mercury is an extremely toxic metal.

Exposure to mercury, even at low levels, has been linked to central nervous system damage, kidney and liver impairment, reproductive and developmental disorders, defects in foetuses and learning deficits.

In a recent court judgment on the illegal import of another oil and gas unit – Maersk’s FPSO NORTH SEA PRODUCER – the Bangladesh Supreme Court denounced the fraudulent documents claiming that the vessel was toxic-free when it in fact was contaminated by radioactive substances.

The Court called for full transparency on the hazardous materials onboard end-of-life vessels imported to Bangladesh.

The Platform has documented drill ships, floating platforms, jack-up rigs and FPSOs/FSOs scrapped in recent years.

Many were beached in South Asia, including units owned by Diamond Offshore, Maersk, Odebrecht, SAIPEM, SBM Offshore and Transocean.

The J. NAT case resembles the recent export from Indonesia to the Indian beach of Alang of SBM’s mercury-laden tanker YETAGUN, which was investigated by Dutch media Zembla.

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