India's Supreme Court gave the go ahead this week for ship breakers to clean and dismantle the oil tanker formerly known as the 'Exxon Valdez', NBC News reports.
The ship, which dumped 11 million gallons of crude oil into Alaska's Prince William Sound in 1989, has been sitting off the coast of India since May when the country's courts prevented it from being cleaned and dismantled at the Alang shipbreaking yard, NBC reported.
Environmental activists successfully blocked its beaching at the yard, claiming that importing ships to be dismantled was a violation of the U.N. Basel Convention, an international treaty on hazardous waste transport.
The court ruled that importing the ships is indeed a violation but strangely exempted the 'Exxon Valdez', now known as the now known as the 'Oriental Nicety'.
"Hopefully this ruling will be the beginning of the end of the dark ages of ship recycling," Jim Puckett, director of the Basel Action Network (BAN), said in a statement to NBC News. "Hundreds of poor and desperate laborers have been killed or exposed to hazardous chemicals as a result of the disastrous shipbreaking practices on Indian beaches."
India originally banned the ship from entering the country until it was decontaminated. Older ships, such as the 26-year old Valdez are often contaminated with carcinogens and even radioactive material.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the court said any future ships coming into India to be dismantled must prove they are in compliance with the U.N. Basel Convention governing the international movement of hazardous waste.
The court ruled that if any toxic waste is discovered during dismantling "the concerned authorities shall take immediate steps for their disposal at the cost of the owner of the vessel, M/s Best Oasis Ltd, or its nominee or nominees,” the Hindu Newspaper reported.
Workers at Alang will soon get to work dismantling the ship. The Los Angeles Times calls Alang a "global magnet for dying ships" because ships can sail directly onto its six-mile beach instead of being dry docked. Laborers often work in dangerous conditions without shoes or protective helmets for a few dollars a day, the newspaper reports.