Press Release – Platform supports banks’ introduction of responsible ship recycling standards

And another worker dies in May at Chittagong yard with an appalling accident record


Today, during the first day of NOR-Shipping in Oslo, Dutch banks ABN AMRO, ING Bank and NIBC, together with the Scandinavian DNB, announced that they are all introducing Responsible Ship Recycling Standards (RSRS) for their ship financing. The banks took the opportunity of making this announcement during the biannual industry gathering in order to raise awareness with the intention of including more banks into the initiative. The Norwegian fund, KLP, who in 2016 commissioned a report by the International Law and Policy Institute on shipbreaking, had also already taken a stance to reject beaching practices.


A collective move to include ship recycling conditions on loans by leading banks and financial institutions with large shipping portfolios is a positive step to imposing responsible practices on ship owners. When there is pressure for change coming from shipping financers, who understand that they have a direct tangible impact on the shipping industry, ship owners, rather than finding crafty loopholes in the law, will feel the bite if they do not choose to recycle responsibly off the beach.

"We welcome the leading role taken by the banks to ensure a departure from the unnecessarily dirty and dangerous practice of beaching, and expect that investors and clients of shipping that are increasingly pushing for higher standards for ship recycling will join the initiative."
Ingvild Jenssen - Policy Director - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Platform News – Worker killed when breaking the Hanjin Rome

And another worker dies in May at Chittagong yard with an appalling accident record


Two workers lost their lives at the Chittagong shipbreaking yards in the last two weeks, bringing the total death toll this year to six workers.


On 6 May, 26-year-old Shahinoor died at Jamuna Shipbreaking yard. He fell from a great height when he was breaking the HANJIN ROME, which was the first vessel arrested after the collapse of one of the largest container ship companies last year – the Korean company Hanjin Shipping. The HANJIN ROME was put up for auction by the High Court in Singapore to be sold to the highest bidder early this year. Unsurprisingly, the highest bids for buying ships for scrap come from cash buyers that sell to the South Asian beaching yards who can offer higher steel prices with minimal disposal and labour costs and safeguards. This is not the first time that courts, in deciding on bankruptcy cases, completely ignore the environmental and human repercussions of selling shipping assets to beaches, with the sole purpose of sorting out failed companies’ balance books. Deaths on the beaches have also been a direct consequence from bankruptcy cases in Germany, such as the sale of the KING JUSTUS to Alang and the VIKTORIA WULFF to Chittagong.


On 9 May, winch operator Ishaq was smashed by the wire cable and died on the spot at KR Steel. This is the second fatal accident this year at the plot – another fatal accident happened in February at BBC Shipbreaking yard which is under the same ownership as KR Steel. According to local sources, KR Steel was dismantling the vessels SEA ZENITH and KOTA WISATA when Ishaq was killed. The former was owned by the Thai shipping group Sang Thai & Sinsimon. The latter was owned by Singapore-based Pacific International Lines (PIL), one of the top containership operators in the world. PIL sent nine end-of-life vessels to the beaches of South Asia in the last four years. Six ended up in the worst yards on the shores of Chittagong.

"Shipping companies globally are aware of the dangerous and polluting practices on the breaking beaches in South Asia. The higher profit that ship owners make by selling to cash buyers has a human cost and an environmental cost. That insolvency administrators appointed by the courts in Singapore and Germany have been allowed to trade unprofitable ships to the beaches of South Asia is shocking."
Ingvild Jenssen - Policy Director - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Earlier this year the Institute for Global Labor and Human Rights (IGLHR) published a detailed account of the fatal accidents that killed 19 workers in Chittagong in 2016. The report includes interviews with workers that describe harsh conditions, lack of protective equipment, exposure to toxic gases and fumes, and a constant fear of dying at work: “There are enclosed dark places on the ship, where there is no ventilation. The cutters go in first [to cut holes in the sides to let light in]. Especially they get sick and nauseous,” a worker reports to IGLHR. “All of us cutters get sick from the chemicals. It always happens,” other workers add. “I work at night because the owner wanted me to work the night shift,” says a worker, adding “it is cooler. You sweat less. So for me, it is better. But it is more dangerous. That is the biggest worry: It is very risky. At any time, I could lose my life”.


Activists and workers in Bangladesh recently raised their voices on two important days for workers’ rights. On 28 April, the World Day for Health & Safety at Work, the Platform member Bangladesh Occupational Safety, Health and Environment (OSHE) foundation organised a rally and a human chain to raise awareness on the precarious conditions at the Chittagong shipbreaking yards. Workers affected by asbestosis or having suffered injuries joined OSHE for further discussions on how to strengthen claims for compensation. On 1 May Chittagong-based Platform member Young Power in Social Action (YPSA) organised a human chain and a rally gathering more than 100 workers and their family members.

"Six workers have died this year. Many more workers have suffered serious injuries. Safety and workers’ rights are shamefully being ignored in most yards. Whereas the Bangladesh Shipbreakers’ Association is reluctant to take any action on the yards where workers are dying, the Courts should act immediately to ensure that no yard is allowed to operate in breach of national laws on occupational safety and environmental protection."
Muhammed Ali Shahin - Bangladesh Project Coordinator - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

In an attempt to hide the accident, the yard management kept the body of Shah Jahan inside the premises, but fellow workers and locals rushed to the site and started demonstrating. The body was consequently sent to the morgue of the Chittagong Medical College Hospital. The following day, the worker was quickly buried without a post mortem. Platform member organisations in Bangladesh attended the funeral and now seek to support the victim’s relatives. The family and the yard owners have settled for a one-off payment and a monthly allowance to help them cover their living costs. However, money will not be able to replace Shah Jahan who leaves behind a wife and a young child.


© NGO Shipbreaking Platform – Hanjin Rome beached in Chittagong, Bangladesh




Platform News – NGO Shipbreaking Platform presents Annual Report 2016

The NGO Shipbreaking Platform presents its Annual Report 2016.


Last year, at least 52 workers lost their lives on the shipbreaking beaches in South Asia. The worst explosion in the history of shipbreaking struck an oil tanker beached in Gadani, Pakistan, killing 28 workers and injuring more than 60. The NGO Shipbreaking Platform is working to ensure that shipping companies sell their obsolete vessels to safe, clean and just recycling facilities. Thanks, in no small part, to the continued efforts of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform and its member organisations, concerned policy makers and industry with a stake in shipping are increasingly echoing this demand. Check the new Annual Report to find out more about global shipbreaking practices and the NGO Shipbreaking Platform's activities in 2016.


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Download the Platform’s Annual Report 2015 here, or send us an email to order a hard copy.