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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 February 2006, 09:37 GMT
France will 'take back asbestos'
Indian workers dismantle decommissioned ships at a ship breaking yard in Alang.
France says it will monitor the health of the workers
France is prepared to take back asbestos from a decommissioned warship that is headed for an Indian ship-breaking yard.

French Ambassador to India Dominique Gerard says it is willing to take the step if that is what India decides.

Greenpeace says the ship, the Clemenceau, is carrying hundreds of tonnes of asbestos and should not be allowed to reach its destination.

It says the ship will endanger the health of workers at the yard.

Mr Girard, who was visiting the ship-breaking yard at Alang on India's western coast, said his country would abide by the decision of the Indian courts and the government.

"It's out of the question to force our way into India," he is quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.

"The warship is not there to be used for that."

The ambassador also said France would send experts and closely monitor the health of the workers who will be involved in dismantling the ship.

Court ruling

Alang is the world's biggest ship-breaking yard.

Greenpeace has been fighting for months to block the transfer of the Clemenceau to India because of concerns over the health of the workers at the Gujarat scrap yard who will dismantle it.

The French authorities say the ship has already been decontaminated with 15 tonnes of asbestos removed, but Greenpeace charges that hundreds of tonnes remain.

India's Supreme Court has barred the ship from entering Indian waters until a special commission determines whether it is carrying hazardous waste.

A court ruling is now awaited.

See the aircraft carrier at the centre of the row

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14 Nov 03 |  Science/Nature
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10 Dec 02 |  South Asia
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22 Apr 99 |  Crossing Continents

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