Press Release – Brazilian government asked to stop dumping toxic ships on South Asian beaches

NGOs and trade unions criticize Petrobras’ end-of-life fleet management


The Brazilian CONTTMAF trade union federation and its member SINDMAR [1] have recently criticized the shipbreaking practices of Transpetro, the oil and gas transportation subsidiary of the Brazilian petroleum corporation Petrobras, majority-owned by the State. In the last five years, more than twenty vessels owned by the oil and gas giant have been dismantled on the beaches of India and Pakistan, where shipbreaking activities endanger both workers and the environment. In an official letter sent on 2 June 2017 to Transpetro, Severino Almeida, president of CONTTMAF and SINDMAR, expresses his serious concerns about the Petrobras’ poor end-of-life fleet management. Several of the ships that ended up in South Asia were built thanks to financing provided by the Merchant Marine Fund. In other words, public money has therefore been used to build ships that now put workers’ lives at risk and pollute the environment in developing countries.


According to maritime databases, at least six more units owned by Petrobras have already been sold for demolition but are still in Brazilian territorial waters. Four drill platforms were bought in a public auction by the cash-buyer Rota Shipping who exclusively delivers to Turkish yards and was able to offer just 180,000 USD more than Alfa Ship Trading, a cash-buyer who only sends to India. On the other hand, the product tanker LOBATO and the liquefied petroleum gas carrier GUAPORE have been sold by Petrobras to Indian breakers. The NGO Shipbreaking Platform has alerted Brazilian authorities about the imminent illegal exports under Basel Convention’s rules of these two vessels, currently located at Rio de Janeiro Anchorage. To date, no reply has been received.


As published recently by SINDMAR, and based on data collected by the Platform, Petrobras is not the only Brazilian company involved in dirty and dangerous scrapping practices. In the last two years, the Brazilian multinational corporation Vale, engaged in metals and mining, has also sold five ships to shipbreaking beaches in Bangladesh and Pakistan, where at least 79 workers were severely injured and 55 died in 2016. 35 year-old worker Mukhlesur was crushed to death as he and his co-workers were moving a large metal slab from the Vale’s ORE TIMBOPEBA at Mak Corporation Ship Breaking yard in Chittagong, Bangladesh.

"It is unacceptable that Petrobras and other Brazilian companies contribute to the deaths and environmental pollution in South Asia."
Nicola Mulinaris - Communication and Policy Officer - NGO Shipbreaking Platform
"In order to ensure clean and safe ship recycling off the beach, we demand stricter requirements for the public auctions of Petrobras’ end-of-life vessels and the enforcement of international legislation on hazardous waste exports. The vessels could even be recycled in Brazil."
Carlos Müller - Director - CONTTMAF and SINDMAR

A committee coordinated by the Ministry of Labour and Employment, with the presence of the Brazilian Navy and Petrobras itself, is now considering the possibility to include ship recycling in the scope of national regulation NR 34, which sets environmental and safety requirements for ship building and offshore constructions, including repair activities.

"Widening the scope of regulation NR 34 is certainly a step in the right direction. Should Brazil be serious about starting to use the dormant national ship recycling capacity, we call on all interested Brazilian yards to follow the standards set in the EU Ship Recycling Regulation and to apply to be included in the upcoming EU List of approved ship recycling facilities."
Nicola Mulinaris - Communication and Policy Officer - NGO Shipbreaking Platform




[1] The Confederação Nacional dos Trabalhadores em Transportes Aquaviários e Aéreos, na Pesca e nos Portos (CONTTMAF) is a confederacy constituted for the purpose of coordenation, orientation, defense and legal representation of the professional categories in the maritime, riverine, lacustrine, diving, civil aviation, fishing and port activities. The Sindicato Nacional dos Oficiais da Marinha Mercante (SINDMAR), part of the confederacy, is the maritime officers’ union.


Platform News – SAVE THE DATE: “Black Gold’s Green Legacy” on 22 and 28 June 2017 in Brussels

The European Economic and Social Committee's Consultative Commission on Industrial Change (CCMI) and The European Parliament (EP) are organizing, with the support of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, a two-part event to follow-up and consolidate earlier work on shipbreaking and the recycling society.


The event will explore the positive benefits that could accrue to Member States from the increased necessity to recycle the decommissioned floating structures from the oil and gas sector within Europe. This event will determine the response of the key stakeholders, especially the oil and gas industry and the production facility owners, and identify what further action needs to be taken by the EU to ensure that the significant value of the legacy assets contribute to the ongoing industrial base in Europe.


The first part of this event will take place at the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) on 22 June in Brussels. A dedicated debate looking at the obstacles and opportunities will take place at a meeting of the Consultative Commission on Industrial Change.


The second part of this joint event will be a conference on 28 June in the European Parliament in Brussels. This will define and explore, in conjunction with the European Commission, the necessary legislative action and support that is necessary.


We will take part in these important discussions to make sure the offshore sector’s overcapacity problem is resolved through responsible recycling.


Visit also the photo exhibition “With Bare Hands” showing the dire conditions at the shipbreaking beaches in India and Bangladesh, which will take place at the EP on 26-30 June.

* Webstreaming in English will be provided during the hearing. The participation in the event is free.


Click here to view the Program.


Conference on 22 June, in the EESC - You may register at the following address:
Conference on 28 June, in the EP - You may register at the following address:
* Please note your first and last name, function, organisation and address mail.