Page last updated at 13:47 GMT, Monday, 8 February 2010

Work resumes on fire-hit carrier Clemenceau on Teeside

Fire on Clemenceau
The fire was contained to three compartments inside the vessel

Workers have been allowed back on board a so-called "ghost ship" on Teesside after a fire which sparked a major safety alert.

Up to 50 firefighters tackled the blaze on the former French aircraft carrier Clemenceau near Hartlepool on Friday.

Able UK, which is dismantling the 32,700-tonne ship, said the fire was not near any asbestos it contains.

Workers have been allowed back on the vessel, but cutting operations inside the vessel have been suspended.

An investigation into the fire at Able UK's Seaton Port facility, involving Cleveland Fire Brigade and the Environment Agency, is ongoing.

No-one was hurt.

Dry dock

However the incident sparked a warning from the Friends of Hartlepool group, which claimed the ship was a health hazard.

A spokesman for Able UK said: "The investigation into the cause of Friday's incident is ongoing.

"The Seaton Port site resumed operations at the weekend but, until the outcome of the investigation and discussions with agencies such as the Fire Service, the Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency, we have suspended cutting operations in the internal sections."

The Clemenceau carried helicopters in the first Gulf War

The Clemenceau, which arrived at the firm's Graythorp dry dock a year ago, was turned away by India and Egypt for being too toxic to be broken up.

The fire, which was contained within three compartments, is believed to have started in cabling. About 70 people had been working on the ship at the time.

Fire crews took more than an hour to bring the flames under control.

The project to dismantle the Clemenceau is one of the largest of its kind in Europe.

About 70% of the total asbestos-containing material has so far been removed and the firm expects to complete the operation by April.

The total dismantling of the hull is predicted to be completed by the summer.

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