Yet another passenger ship is heading towards the shipbreaking beaches of South Asia, in clear violation of European rules that are aimed at preventing the trade of toxic waste from the EU to non-OECD countries.
The passenger/ro-ro vessel PRINCESS (IMO 7347548) illegally departed from Katakolon, Greece, in July and arrived on 22 August in Chattogram, Bangladesh, where is about to be beached. Despite the fact that competent authorities were alerted that the ship was heading for scrap already in May, the unit was allowed to leave European territorial waters. Before its departure, the new owners changed the flag of the vessel from Cyprus to Togo, and then from Togo to Comoros, in what is a typical preparatory step prior substandard breaking.
In addition to the many hazardous materials typically found within the structure of ships and as operational residues, and which characterize end-of-life vessels as toxic waste, the PRINCESS, which was built in 1974, likely contains large amounts of asbestos. The deplorable conditions at the shipbreaking yards in Bangladesh are well-known and cause each year irreparable damage to workers’ health, local communities and the environment.
Lately, the PRINCESS performed ferry activities between Italy and Greece under the control of Greek company A-Ships Management SA. Its illegal export has also caught the attention of Interpol, which is understood to have issued a formal alert to Bangladesh authorities not to allow the import of the ship. In Chattogram, a legal notice challenging the beaching of the vessel has just been issued by the Platform’s member organisation BELA.
It is not the first time this year that the Platform has raised concerns with Greek and other European authorities concerning the toxic trade of passenger ships. In March, three cruises were illegally exported from Europe.