Authorities and the company tasked with its dismantling rejected allegations that a Brazilian aircraft carrier that will be sent to Turkey to be deconstructed poses a risk to the environment and public health.

A Turkish company won the tender to dismantle the Nae Sao Paulo in 2021 and the ship was set to arrive later this year at Aliağa, a shipyard in the western province of Izmir world-famous for its ship dismantling businesses. Some environmental organizations and the mayor of Izmir had opposed the dismantling, claiming environmental and health hazards. Allegations circulating on social media claim the ship contains “900 tons of asbestos.”

In a written statement on Monday, Minister of Environment, Urban Planning and Climate Change Murat Kurum said the ship contained only 9.6 tons of asbestos, not 900, and that all asbestos waste from ship dismantling in Turkey is subject to regulations. “It is properly packaged and tagged and has no contact with air. Any asbestos waste is temporarily stored before its disposal at facilities licensed by the ministry. It is separately stored before its disposal,” he said. Kurum cited a similar situation from 2013, saying that another ship containing asbestos was dismantled with the waste disposed of without problems. The minister added that all inspections of the ship prior to dismantling to assess possible environmental and health risks were carried out by international institutions in line with international laws and that the inspections did not find any risks.

He said the ship would undergo another inspection by experts with international authority once it is in Turkish territorial waters. “If any risk is found, the ship will be sent back,” Kurum said.

Sök Denizcilik, the company that will dismantle the ship, said in a written statement that only companies approved by the EU’s European Environment Agency participated in the tender. It said the asbestos rate was determined by independent auditing companies with international licenses.

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