Platform publishes South Asia Quarterly Update #23

There were a total of 170 ships broken in the third quarter of 2020. Of these, 110 ships were sold to the beaches of South Asia, where, despite several yards being closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, shipbreaking activities continued to put workers’ lives at risk. Between July and September, at least four workers were severely injured and one worker lost his life in Bangladesh. 



On July 1, Rohul (47 years old) suffered an accident at KSB Steels shipbreaking yard. He fell and broke five ribs while dismantling the ship STELLAR IRIS (IMO 9083093), owned by South Korean company Polaris Shipping. On the same day, Mozaffor (42 years old) fell down while dismantling another Polaris’ vessel, the STELLAR JOURNEY (IMO 9050230), at RA Shipbreaking yard. Mozaffor was transferred to Dhaka Hospital as the medical assistance was inadequate in Chattogram.


On July 20, Rashidul Islam (45 years old) died while dismantling an unidentified vessel at N.R. Shipbreaking yard. Rashidul was fatally hit by a falling object.


On July 21, Faruk (24 years old) got injured at Arefin Shipbreaking yard. He was breaking the Japanese-owned vessel INNOVATOR (IMO 8508905) when an iron plate hit his head.


On August 27, Mokbul (40 years old) suffered an accident at T.R. Shipbreakers yard, owned by Didarul Alam, a member of the Bangladeshi Parliament. He was hit by an iron plate in his back. Mokbul did not receive any treatment or compensation from the yard owner in order to satisfy his livelihood needs.


In the third quarter of 2020, Greek ship owners sold the most ships to South Asian yards, closely followed by Japanese, Russian and South Korean owners. South Korean company Polaris Shipping sold another two vessels to Pakistan. The ship owner, which hit the headlines in June for the scuttling of the ore carrier STELLAR BANNER off the coast of Brazil, has sold a total of seven ships for dirty and dangerous breaking in Bangladesh and Pakistan this year.


In April, we urged Bangladesh, India and Pakistan to halt the import of a highly toxic offshore unit that had illegally departed from Indonesia. The Floating Storage and Offloading (FSO) tanker J. NAT (now renamed RADIANT) left Indonesian waters despite local activists having warned Indonesian authorities about the toxicity of the vessel. Following our actions and local media reports, the government of Bangladesh directed all departments concerned not to allow the ship to enter Bangladeshi territory. Similarly, Indian authorities have recently warned Alang shipbreaking yards not to accept the toxic tanker for scrapping. Maritime sources now indicate that the vessel is sailing towards Gadani, Pakistan.


Almost one third of the ships sold to South Asia this quarter changed flag to the registries of Comoros, Gabon, Palau and St. Kitts and Nevis just weeks before hitting the beach. These flags are not typically used during the operational life of ships and offer ‘last voyage registration’ discounts. They are particularly popular with the middlemen scrap-dealers that purchase vessels cash from ship owners, and are grey- and black-listed due to their poor implementation of international maritime law.


The high number of flag changes at end-of-life seriously compromises the effectiveness of legislation based on flag state jurisdiction only, such as the European Union (EU) Ship Recycling Regulation. The Platform recorded at least seven ships that de-registered from a European flag registry (e.g. Cyprus, Germany, Malta) prior the last voyage to South Asia in order to circumvent EU legislation. The export of one of these ships also breached the Basel Convention’s Ban Amendment, which prohibits the export of hazardous waste, including end-of-life vessels, from the OECD, the EU and Liechtenstein to other countries – primarily developing countries or countries with economies in transition. The Ro-Ro cargo ship ZERAN, owned by Polish Ocean Lines, swapped its Maltese flag to that of Panama and illegally left Turkish waters at the end of July. It was beached in Bangladesh in September.   


Investigations have been launched by authorities in Iceland following the illegal export of two container vessels owned by Icelandic company Eimskip to India. Icelandic program Kveikur released a documentary on the murky sale of the two ships. Eimskip’s counterpart to the sale was none other than GMS, one of the most well-known cash buyers of end-of-life ships.



Click here or on the image below to access the full version of our quarterly report. 

Platform News – Platform welcomes new Indonesian partner organisation

The NGO Shipbreaking Platform, a coalition of environmental, human rights and labour rights organisations, welcomes the Nexus Foundation for Environmental, Health, and Development, also known as Nexus3 Foundation, as new partner organisation. 


The Nexus3 Foundation (f.k.a. BaliFokus Foundation) is based in Indonesia. The organisation works to safeguard both the public, especially vulnerable populations, and the environment from the negative impacts of global development, promoting a just, toxic-free, and sustainable future. Its goals are i) to support reducing and eliminating the world’s most hazardous chemicals, ii) to halt the spread of toxic metals, iii) to strengthen Indonesian chemical and wastes management policies, and iv) to enhance institutional capacity to enable communities and civil society organisations in Indonesia to promote safer chemicals and waste management. 

"It is good now to be part of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, after having been engaged with some of its members on cross-campaigns for a number of years. We look forward to join forces and shed light on Indonesian dangerous shipbreaking practices and transboundary movements of hazardous waste by ships."
Yuyun Ismawati Drwiega - Senior Advisor and Co-founder - Nexus3 Foundation

Every year, numerous toxic ships and oil and gas wastes are illegally exported from Indonesian ports to the infamous shipbreaking beaches of South Asia. Recently, local activists and international NGOs warned Indonesian authorities about the illegal departure of several mercury-laden tankers, such as the FPSO Yetagun and the FSO J NAT. Oil sludge residues from the processing of crude oil extracted in the East-Asia region commonly contain mercury, which ends up contaminating the offshore units’ structures, tanks and piping. 


Exposure to mercury, even at low levels, has been linked to central nervous system damage, kidney and liver impairment, reproductive and development disorders, defects in fetuses and learning deficits. When heated up by simple methods such as sand blasting, water blasting, grinding and gas axing, extremely toxic mercury vapors are released, bypassing most commercial personal protection equipment (PPE). The toxicity of the vessels that are illegally exported from Indonesia is, however, not the only concern. In fact, media investigations also revealed appalling social and environmental conditions at small scrapping yards located in the country.


Shipbreaking in Cilincing, Jakarta - © Yudha Baskoro 2018
Shipbreaking in Cilincing, Jakarta - © Yudha Baskoro 2018
"Together with our new partners at the Nexus3 Foundation, we will keep raising awareness on the numerous illegal exports of toxics ships from Indonesia. We will also focus our attention on the appalling labour and environmental conditions at the domestic shipbreaking yards, to make sure the workers and the environment are fully protected."
Nicola Mulinaris - Communication and Policy Officer - NGO Shipbreaking Platform