Ministry finds no sign of toxic ships’ cleanup

The Merchant Marine Ministry said yesterday it had no evidence Greek shipyards had cleared highly toxic chemicals from two decommissioned British naval vessels in 2001. A report in the Guardian daily last Friday quoted a British Ministry of Defense spokesman as saying «contaminants» from the two tankers had been removed in Greece before the vessels were taken to a shipbreakers’ yard in India. The ships, named Olwen and Olna, contained high concentrations of asbestos and toxic insulating materials. A Merchant Marine Ministry statement said the tankers reached Piraeus in March 2001, and promptly anchored at Salamina, raised the Comoros flag and were renamed Kea and Kos. They left separately for India, in late May and early July. The ministry said no permit had been issued for repairs or other work while the ships were at Salamina, «nor was any work found to have been carried out.»