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Turk activists protest ship carrying Spanish waste

Turk activists protest ship carrying Spanish waste
ANKARA - Environmental activists blocked entrances to the Spanish Embassy in Turkey yesterday to demand that a ship laden with toxic waste return to Spain. The St. Vincent-flagged MV Ulla, owned by Turkish shipping line Mavi Deniz, arrived in the Mediterranean port of Iskenderun in February with ash from coal-burning power plants in northern Spain, an Iskenderun port official said. A Turkish court ordered the ship to remain at the port after the Environment Ministry said the fly ash contained chromium VI at levels banned in Turkey, a Greenpeace statement said. Authorities have barred the ship from sailing until the Spanish government permits it to return with its cargo for fear the ship may dump it at sea, the port official said. Greenpeace activists chained themselves to the embassys gates and strung a banner reading "Spain, take back your toxic waste" on the side of the mission. They also delivered a letter for the ambassador, which an embassy official said was sent to Madrid. "The Spanish government wont escape its legal obligations, though its quite dubious that the legal obligations are there," the official said. Spain does not consider the chromium levels toxic, he added. Greenpeace said Spanish construction firm Dragados bought the material for a dam project in Algeria. Upon its arrival, Dragados refused the shipment, saying it was flawed. Tolga Temuge, who works on Greenpeaces toxic chemicals campaign, said Turkish law bars the government from accepting the material. Spanish courts should determine who is responsible for the cargo and must pay for its disposal, he said. "Otherwise, this ship will dump the waste in the Mediterranean Sea. Is that what Spain wants?" Temuge said. REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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