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Bangladesh bans 'toxic' oil tanker

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by Staff Writers
Dhaka, Bangladesh (AFP) Aug 20, 2008
Bangladesh banned a "toxic" oil tanker just days before it was to be beached and broken up, an official said Wednesday.

The New Atlantia, which Greenpeace described as hazardous, was sold to a Bangladeshi shipbreaker after its name was changed to MT Enterprise, Musharraf Ashraf, a shipping department official, told AFP.

Its new owner took the ship to Sitakundu, home to the world's largest ship breaking yards, on the country's southeast coast.

But authorities banned the ship from being broken up and ordered it to leave Bangladesh territory after finding out that the owners had disguised its name to obtain dismantling approval, Ashraf said.

"Environment groups have alerted us at the last moment. We banned the ship as soon as we learnt that the MT Enterprise's original name was New Atlantia and it is an asbestos-laden toxic ship," he added.

Up to 130 large ships are dismantled each year at yards operating on beaches at Sitakundu, 30 kilometres (18 miles) north of Chittagong city.

Sitakundu's shipbreaking yards have boomed in recent years due to soaring demand for steel.

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