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Captain Of Toxic Waste Ship Gets Suspended Sentence

April 5, 1989

GENOA, Italy (AP) _ In a case that caused a national uproar, a court has given a two-month suspended sentence to the captain of a Syrian ship whose toxic cargo originated in Italy and was rejected on two continents.

The Genoa court handed down the sentence Tuesday after convicting the captain of the Zanoobia, Ahmed Tabalo of Syria, of traveling without the proper permit.

Tabalo said he took command of the ship after the 12,000 barrels of toxic waste had been loaded and said he believed its manifest was accurate in listing the goods as normal chemical products, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.

The vessel, dubbed the ″ship of poison″ by the Italian media, docked in Genoa in northern Italy in May after crew members reported being sickened by fumes from the cargo. The barrels were examined and the ship was subsequently seized by Italian authorities.

The cargo’s odyssey began in February 1987 when it left the Italian port of Carrara on a Maltese freighter for Djibouti carrying waste from Italian companies.

Authorities in the African country refused the cargo and the ship later unloaded it in Puerto Cabello, Venezuela.

But the cargo began to leak and Venezuelan officials ordered it out of the country. It was put on a Cypriot freighter, which was refused entry by several ports until it reached Syria.

Eventually the Syrians had the cargo reloaded onto the Zanoobia and the ship went to Italy.

The Zanoobia was one of three vessels that returned to Italy bearing a total of 2,200 tons of unidentified waste from Italian chemical companies that had been rejected in foreign ports.

The return of the three ships at about the same time prompted fear in many cities that they would be used as dumping grounds for the refuse.

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