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Exxon Valdez Remains Controversial Near Its End in India

from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

ALANG, India -- For the ship formerly known as the Exxon Valdez, even sailing quietly into the sunset is proving difficult. Now called the Oriental Nicety, it's floating off India in a kind of high-seas limbo as a court decides whether the vessel that dumped 11 million gallons of crude oil into Alaska's unspoiled Prince William Sound in 1989 can be hacked apart in this forlorn graveyard for once-mighty ships.

Local environmentalists have petitioned the High Court here in the western state of Gujarat to block its entry pending an onboard inspection for toxic chemicals, including mercury, arsenic and asbestos.

Environmentalists acknowledge it's probably no more toxic than so many other ships recycled at Alang, a city whose coastline was once edged with forest and is now lined with about 175 ramshackle yards pulling vessels apart. But they say the standoff focuses attention on India's lax environmental, labor and safety standards governing the billion-dollar ship-breaking industry.

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