I find the case of the toxic ship fascinating. In the rich industrialised world, we’ve often been able to pay poorer nations to take our waste. Our consumer electronics are broken up by hand in Guiyu. Our ships are pulled apart by men with basic hand-tools in Chittagong. It’s dangerous, dirty work that kills and maims and pollutes. And, of course, it’s also a source of employment and income for a great many people. But because it’s somewhere over there, we naturally don’t really concern ourselves with the damage to health or the environment. As the saying goes, don’t shit where you live. We have, in a sense, been shitting where other people live, though.

There’s an uproar about a decommissioned and contaminated French navy ‘ghost ship’ that has just arrived to be dismantled in Hartlepool.

A former French aircraft carrier—rejected by India and Egypt as being too toxic to be broken up—has arrived at its final resting place in Teesside.

It’s so bad that the usual places won’t even take it, and there aren’t all that many places that can accommodate such an enormous vessel. Now, on the one hand, the fact that such a filthy object exists at all is cause for regret. However, something has to be done about it, and I can’t help feeling that it’s better that it happens in England where it will be done with attention to safety and the environment in a way that minimises risks. The alternatives—being dumped by an unscrupulous fixer, or being torn to pieces by barefoot men on a beach in South Asia—are far worse.

Of course, I’d be up in arms if they were pulling it apart over the river in Limehouse, rather than somewhere up North. I don’t claim to be dispassionate.