CHENNAI: Hazardous products including dead batteries, arms waste like empty shells and cartridges, toxic substances, waste oil and carcinogens like asbestos are making their way to the 7,600-km-long Indian coastline, posing a serious threat to hundreds of fragile ecosystems along the shores.
Large quantities of this entire poisonous jetsam from various European countries have been discovered in shipping containers across eight major ports in the country. Most of these highly dangerous goods, many highly inflammable, were part of consignments declared as plastic or newsprint.
To make matters worse, the almost entirely unregulated ship-breaking industry is bringing unknown quantities of toxic waste aboard end-of-life vessels sent to the country to be dismantled.
The shipping ministry says it will take "immediate steps" to deal with poisonous shipments to India's ports, officials say it is likely to take several months before any of these consignments can be returned to the countries of their origin, if at all they can be returned.
At least 83 drums of waste oil weighing around 12 tonnes still lies at Chennai port 19 years after it arrived aboard a ship in 1993.