Turkey on Friday bowed to pressure from environmental campaigners and revoked a local company’s permission to dismantle a decommissioned Brazilian aircraft carrier dubbed “the asbestos ship,” Agence France-Presse reported.
The Brazilian navy’s NAe São Paulo had been due to be scrapped near Turkey’s Aegean city of İzmir in the coming weeks under a contract awarded to a local shipyard in 2021.
Turkey has turned into a go-to destination for the world’s navies and merchant marine companies to send their old ships to be turned into scrap metal and parts.
But environmental campaigners and Turkey’s opposition parties alleged that the ship would pollute the local land and water with tons of asbestos used to insulate the 260-meter-long ship.
The exact amount of hazardous material aboard the vessel remained in dispute.
Environment and Climate Change Minister Murat Kurum said he was rescinding permission for the ship to travel to Turkey because it had failed to undergo a mandatory second audit of its contents.
“It was decided to cancel the conditional notification approval for the NAe São Paulo,” Kurum said in a statement.
“The ship will not be allowed to enter Turkish territorial waters.”
Marine traffic sites showed the ship currently docked in Rio de Janeiro.
Zehirli #SaoPaulo gemisini durdurduk!
Bu gemi; bizler yan yana gelip kararlı durduğumuz için durdu!
Gemideki zehirli maddeler tek tek hocalarımız tarafından teşhir edildi, gazeteci dostlarımız büyük bir özveriyle bunu uluslararası kamuoyuna taşıdı
— Doğanın Çocukları (@DogannCocuklari) August 26, 2022
“We stopped the poison!” Turkey’s Doğanın Çocukları (Children of Nature) environmental campaign group tweeted moments after the announcement.
The ship’s fate has turned into a test case for campaigners of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s commitment to the environment ahead of next year’s general election.
Turkey became the last member of the G20 group of big nations to ratify the Paris climate accord in 2021 — six years after most countries.
Erdogan pledged his commitment to environmental issues after wildfires and floods killed around 100 people along Turkey’s coasts between July and August of last year.
The Climate Action Tracker project says Ankara’s efforts to reach the Paris accord’s goals remained “critically insufficient.”
Polls show climate change becoming one of the two most important issues for millions of young Turks who will be eligible to vote for the first time in 2023.