French prez orders asbestos-laden ship returned to France

You thought disposing of your old computer was a hassle? Just wait ’til you try to get rid of your old warship. French President Jacques Chirac was lauded by green groups yesterday when he ordered the 50-year-old warship Clemenceau to return to France from India, where it had been sent to be dismantled. Having initially agreed to the transfer, an Indian court then banned the aircraft carrier from Indian waters upon hearing that it possibly contained up to 500 tons of asbestos. The fate of the Clemenceau remained in limbo until yesterday, when Chirac gave in to pressure from Greenpeace and other enviro groups and ordered it returned to France. French courts agreed with Greenpeace in deeming the ship not military hardware but hazardous waste; French law doesn’t allow export of hazardous waste to developing countries. Ninety percent of the world’s ship-breaking is done in India, Bangladesh, China, and Pakistan, which have low environmental and safety standards.