Press Release – Fatal accident at Alang yard during cutting of BW Offshore vessel

A worker lost his life while scrapping BW Offshore’s Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) unit CIDADE DE SAO VICENTE (IMO 7380693) at an Indian beaching yard on 21 April. According to local sources, a nitrogen tank removed from the vessel violently exploded and killed the worker on the spot.

 

BW Offshore sold the FPSO to Priya Blue Industries shipbreaking yard in Alang, India, in February at a price of USD 12.8 million cash after a cold-lay-up in Oman and unsuccessful attempts to negotiate a new contract in Brazil, where the unit operated for eleven years under charter for Brazilian giant Petrobras.

 

 

Despite having been offered a more sustainable solution for the recycling of the vessel when it was in the Middle East by new-comers Elegant Exit Company at the Bahrain-based ASRY dry-dock and SULB steel production facility, BW Offshore decided to sell the FPSO to the Indian beaching yard for a supposedly higher price. Assisted by Arctic Shipbrokers, Grieg Green and Priya Blue’s cash buyer Best Oasis, the deal was branded as a green sale. The FPSO changed its name to VICE and its flag to St Kitts and Nevis before it was ramped up on the Alang tidal mudflat.

 

Priya Blue Industries was amongst the first yards in India to obtain a so-called “Statement of Compliance with the Hong Kong Convention” from Japanese ClassNK, and is also member of the Sustainable Shipping Initiative since 2018. However, recent audit reports by the European Commission have highlighted a series of structural deficiencies at the Alang shipbreaking yards, including Priya Blue Industries, related to the lack of infrastructure to contain pollutants in the primary cutting area, the non-existence of capacity to handle several hazardous wastes originating from ships downstream, the absence of medical facilities and breaches of labour laws. In 2019, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform documented another fatal accident at Priya Blue Industries, and Dutch investigative program Zembla uncovered that same year the shocking conditions under which the scrapping of the mercury-laden Floating Storage and Offloading (FSO) tanker YETAGUN took place in another site owned by Priya Blue.

 

In what is a significant improvement, Dutch company SBM Offshore, owner of the infamous YETAGUN, radically changed their recycling policy after the revelations of Zembla by banning the use of beaching yards and only allowing the scrapping of its offshore assets at yards that use a dry-dock or the landing on concrete slope with drainage system.

"We encourage BW Offshore and BW Group to follow SBM’s example and ensure that their end-of-life fleet is managed exclusively in facilities that can ensure the highest environmental and social standards. Ship owners – and their brokers – have an obligation to conduct due diligence when selecting business partners. When safer alternatives to beaching exist, ignoring the social and governance failings in Alang and contributing to the greenwashing of an outmoded and polluting method for the sake of more money is simply not acceptable anymore."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director - NGO Shipbreaking Platform.

 

NOTES

[1] Read our latest South Asia Quarterly Update and our Recycling Outlook report for more information on the decommissioning of FSOs and FPSOs.

 

Platform publishes South Asia Quarterly Update #29

In this quarterly publication, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform informs about the shipbreaking industry in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. Providing an overview of accidents that took place on the beaches of South Asia and recent on-the-ground developments, including our activities, we aim to inform the public about the negative impacts of substandard shipbreaking practices as well as positive steps aimed at the realisation of environmental justice and the protection of workers’ rights. 

 

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

Press Release – Ship recycling workers’ protest shakes Aliaga

In the last six days, almost the totality of the ship recycling workforce at İzmir Aliağa district, Turkey, has been striking for better employment conditions. Around 1500 workers are claiming that they do not earn enough money, with their recent pay raise remaining below the galloping inflation rate. The action was initiated spontaneously by employees of several ship recycling facilities operating in Aliağa, including some of those recently approved by the EU. Exercising their right of peaceful assembly according to Turkish constitutional provisions, people gathered in front of the offices of the Ship Recycler's Association and, shouting slogans, marched to the yards. The production at all 22 facilities has been halted. 

 

Besides asking for better living wages, workers are also demanding to their employers to provide them with personal protective equipment, and to increase investments in occupational health and safety in the sector. Recently, multiple accidents have been reported. Regrettably, the causes of injuries and deaths in Aliağa have remained the same over the last 30 years. Local NGOs documented at least 44 occupational deaths since 1992. Last year alone, five workers lost their lives, also at EU approved yards. This year, two workers were seriously injured and are currently being treated at the hospital. Whilst Kasım Han was hit by a falling piece on his chest, Osman Gökduman fell from a crane. 

 

Asli Odman, academic at Istanbul Health and Safety Labour Watch, explains that workers are also falling sick and dying of occupational diseases many years after being exposed to toxics found on ships, but these numbers go totally unreported. Cancer rates in Aliağa are much higher than the Turkish average. In fact, asbestos is one of the most common and most hazardous materials found onboard old ships. When extracted, it can break into fine fibres, which can remain in the air for long periods of time. If inhaled, the fibres can lead to fatal diseases such as lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis, the symptoms of which are not apparent for many years. Asbestos fibres, attached to clothing and textiles, can also easily travel to the workers' accommodations, lengthening exposure to the pollutant and putting others living in the same locations at risk. Unsafe working conditions, including the lack of measures taken to manage asbestos properly, have been recently exposed. 

"We hope that the current strike and recent accidents will prompt a significant improvement in terms of occupational health and safety for the workers in Aliağa. We invite the European Commission to take this information into account when reviewing facilities already included in the EU List and new candidates for inclusion."
Nicola Mulinaris - Senior Communication and Policy Advisor - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Also when it comes to environmental performance, Turkish facilities have room for improvement. The Platform is of the opinion that the landing method used in Aliağa should be progressively phased out, in favor of the use of fully contained areas for scrapping. 

 

Press Release – Platform publishes list of ships dismantled worldwide in 2021

The vast majority of ships continue to be broken under conditions that pollute and expose workers to immense risk

 

According to new data released today by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, 763 ocean-going commercial ships and floating offshore units were sold to the scrap yards in 2021. Of these, 583 of the largest tankers, bulkers, floating platforms, cargo- and passenger ships ended up on the beaches of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, amounting to near the totality of the gross tonnage dismantled globally.

"We have been witnessing this environmental and human rights scandal for too long. All ship owners are aware of the dire situation at the beaching yards and the lack of capacity to safely handle the many toxic materials onboard vessels. Yet, with the help of scrap dealers, the vast majority choose to scrap their end-of-life fleet in South Asia as that is where they can make the highest profits."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

In South Asia, workers – often exploited migrants, some of them children – are exposed to immense risks. Dangerous working conditions, including fires and falling steel plates, kill or seriously injure numerous workers. Many more are sickened by exposure to toxic fumes and substances that can be found within the ships’ structures. Coastal biomes, and the local communities depending on them, are devastated by toxic spills and air pollution due to the lack of infrastructure to contain, properly manage and dispose of hazardous materials.

 

In 2021, at least 14 workers lost their lives when breaking apart vessels on the beach of Chattogram, Bangladesh, and another 34 were severely injured. Local sources also reported two deaths in Alang, India, and two deaths in Gadani, Pakistan. Some of these accidents took place onboard vessels owned by well-known shipping companies, such as Berge Bulk, Nathalin Co, Polaris Shipping and Winson Oil.

"The sector suffers from a serious lack of transparency, and it is expected that several accidents go unreported. Many more workers suffer from cancers and other occupational diseases, due to the long-term exposure to hazardous substances, including asbestos. We have launched a fundraising campaign to help the victims of unregulated shipbreaking in collaboration with new local partners in Bangladesh, and urge people or companies to support us so that proper medical treatment can be provided."
Sara Costa - Project Officer - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

2021 worst country dumper were the United Arab Emirates. UAE owners sold 60 ships for scrapping in South Asia, most of which were beached in Bangladesh and Pakistan. Singapore, Greece and the United States of America follow with more than 40 ships beached each.

"The Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure of the UAE has recently proposed a new regulation to promote sustainable ship recycling. It includes a clear ban on the use of beaching facilities. This is an important signal, which we hope will push UAE owners to rapidly exclude South Asian shores from their scrapping options and prompt the establishment of new sustainable facilities in the region."
Nicola Mulinaris - Senior Communication and Policy Advisor - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

South Korean Sinokor was 2020’s runner-up for worst corporate dumper. Their practice has not improved and they now top the list of 2021 worst dumper, having scrapped 12 of their carriers and LNG tankers in Bangladesh and Pakistan. One accident, causing a severe injury to a worker, occurred during the cutting of the Mediterranean Energy at SN Corporation yard in Chittagong. At the same yard, a total of two workers died and seven were injured last year.

 

The giant fresh fruit producers Del Monte and Dole, BULL, BW Offshore, Knutsen Group, Maersk, International Seaways, Petrobras and Stolt-Nielsen are other well-known companies that dumped their toxic ships on South Asian beaches in 2021.

 

The pandemic continued to affect the cruise shipping sector, with more companies taking steps to reduce operating expenses, including the retirement of relatively young vessels. Whilst major cruise lines have committed to use EU-approved recycling yards, other unscrupulous owners have opted for the more profitable beaches in South Asia. As revealed by the Platform and BBC’s File on 4, several passenger ships, including the COLUMBUS, the MAGELLAN, the MARCO POLO and the RIGEL I, illegally left EU waters for scrapping in India under the false pretext of further operational use. 

 
Environmental and labour laws that regulate ship recycling exist, but they are ignored and easily circumvented by ship owners, often with the aid of scrap dealers, known as cash buyers. These pay the highest price for end-of-life vessels, and typically re-name, re-register and re-flag the vessels on their last voyage to the beaching yards. Almost half of the ships sold to South Asia in 2021 changed flag to one of the black-listed flags of Comoros, Palau and St Kitts & Nevis just weeks before hitting the beach. At least seventeen of these flag changes enabled ship owners to circumvent the EU Ship Recycling Regulation, including two units owned by Italian O&G company SAIPEM and two owned by Greek European Navigation. Their units ended up on a beach instead of being recycled in an EU-approved facility as the Regulation requires.

"The EU recently reaffirmed in its proposal for a new regulation on waste shipments that shipbreaking is a question of environmental justice. Yet, the infamous shipbreaking beaches of South Asia remain the preferred scrapping destination for many well-known European shipping companies. At least 1/3 of the tonnage scrapped in South Asia is European. The decisions to scrap these ships under conditions that would not be allowed in the EU are taken in offices in Hamburg, Athens, Antwerp, Copenhagen and other EU shipping hubs. This reality begs for the introduction and enforcement of measures that effectively hold the real beneficial owners of the vessels responsible, regardless of the flags used and/or of the ports of departure."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

The EU has so far approved 44 sites around the world as operating in a safe and environmentally sound manner. No South Asian yard has been approved due to the lack of capacity to safely handle and dispose of hazardous materials, and the lack of infrastructure to provide for emergency response. Only 37 vessels were recorded recycled in EU-approved facilities in 2021, which represent a minor fraction of what these yards are able to handle.

 

But, last year, five workers also lost their lives at the Turkish ship recycling yards in Aliağa. On 4 February, a worker died when hit by a steel block which he was torch-cutting in the secondary cutting area of EU-approved yard Simsekler. On 12 July, Yılmaz Demir and Oğuz Taşkın were onboard a cruise ship owned by Carnival at Metas yard when they were suddenly caught by flames. Yılmaz died on the spot, whilst Oğuz succumbed due to severe burns three days later at the nearby hospital. Two months later, Veli Bal and İlyas Bıdık were fatally hit by a rope that broke during dismantling operations at the same facility, which was recently acquired by EU-approved yard Ege Çelik.

"The causes of the accidents have sadly remained the same over the last 30 years. Workers, however, also fall sick and die of occupational diseases many years after being exposed to toxics. Cancer rates in Aliağa are much higher than the Turkish average. Illegal practices with regards to removal and disposal of hazardous materials, such as asbestos, are ignored. Aliağa is dying, along with its shipbreaking workers, under the very heavy load and pace of full commission books and growing profits for a sector that is cutting corners on safety and environmental protection. Europe needs to take the lead in demanding higher standards and should no longer assume that conditions are satisfactory just because they are seemingly compliant on paper."
Asli Odman - Academic and Volunteer - Istanbul Health and Safety Labour Watch

Clean and safe solutions are available, and in light of new policies aimed at promoting a circular economy, several companies are now exploring the use of abandoned dry docks for the recycling of vessels. It is high time that the sector moves off the beach to proper industrial sites where workers and the environment can be safeguarded.

For the data visualization of 2021 shipbreaking records, click here. *

For the full Excel dataset of all ships dismantled worldwide in 2021, click here. * **

 

* The data gathered by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform is sourced from different outlets and stakeholders, and is cross-checked whenever possible. The data upon which this information is based is correct to the best of the Platform’s knowledge, and the Platform takes no responsibility for the accuracy of the information provided. The Platform will correct or complete data if any inaccuracy is signaled. All data which has been provided is publicly available and does not reveal any confidential business information.

**[UPDATE 2 February 2022 - It has come to our attention that we have incorrectly attributed, based on information provided by shipping databases, the ownership of the vessel BP Jacky to UK-based group BP plc. We have therefore rectified the data concerning the beneficial ownership of this unit, which was controlled by Peruvian Transgas Shipping Lines instead.

 

NOTE

 

[1] In 2021, demolition rates – i.e. the amount a ship owner obtains for selling an end-of-life ship – increased substantially. Whilst the exact rate will depend on the type of vessel and grade of steel, on average the beaching yards in South Asia paid owners 500-600 USD/LDT, compared to 250 USD/LDT in Turkey, and 150 USD/LDT in Europe.

Chattogram, Bangladesh - © NGO Shipbreaking Platform - 2021

Platform publishes South Asia Quarterly Update #28

In this quarterly publication, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform informs about the shipbreaking industry in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. Providing an overview of accidents that took place on the beaches of South Asia and recent on-the-ground developments, including our activities, we aim to inform the public about the negative impacts of substandard shipbreaking practices as well as positive steps aimed at the realisation of environmental justice and the protection of workers’ rights. 

 

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

Platform News – Platform launches fundraising campaign for afflicted workers

More than 70 percent of end-of-life vessels end up in South Asia, where they are broken down under rudimentary conditions on the beaches of Alang-Sosiya in India, Chattogram in Bangladesh, and Gadani in Pakistan - a practice known as ‘beaching’. The human and environmental impacts of the shipbreaking industry are devastating. The industry is even considered by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as one of the most dangerous jobs in the world.

 

Shipbreaking workers, often exploited migrants, lose their lives on accidents or suffer severe injuries, such as burns, amputations and serious spinal injuries, due to unsafe working conditions. The shipbreaking workers are also vulnerable to occupational diseases due to the exposure to toxic substances embedded within the ships’ structures, including asbestos, PCBs and heavy metals. Asbestos is one of the most common and most hazardous materials found onboard ships. When extracted, it breaks into fine fibres, which can be suspended in the air for long periods of time. If inhaled, the fibres can lead to fatal diseases such as lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis.

 

Since 2009, around 7000 ships were beached in South Asia with a recorded data of 425 deaths and 329 injuries. The figures on accidents are likely to be much higher, and occupational diseases are not even registered in these statistics and are difficult to monitor.

 

We are now calling for your support to help injured workers and asbestos victims in Bangladesh. Check out our fundraising campaign for more information by clicking here or on the image below.

"Your support today can bring a big change in the lives of afflicted shipbreaking workers in Chattogram. It can also contribute to raising awareness about the shameful scrapping practices that constantly cause irreversible human and environmental harm on South Asian shores."
Sara Costa - Project Officer - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

 

 

Platform publishes South Asia Quarterly Update #27

In this quarterly publication, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform informs about the shipbreaking industry in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. Providing an overview of accidents that took place on the beaches of South Asia and recent on-the-ground developments, including our activities, we aim to inform the public about the negative impacts of substandard shipbreaking practices as well as positive steps aimed at the realisation of environmental justice and the protection of workers’ rights. 

 

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

Press Release – Record-breaking number of fatalities on the beach of Chattogram

At least seven workers lost their lives while scrapping vessels on the beach of Chattogram in what is the worst quarter in terms of number of accidents in Bangladeshi shipbreaking history. 

 

Few weeks ago, seven separate accidents that killed five workers were reported by the Platform. Since then, two more fatalities occurred. On September 18, Liton Paul, 26 years old, fell from the ORO SINGA (IMO 9171838) during cutting operations at SN Corporation yard. On September 29, a falling iron plate took the life of Taslim, 36 years old, on the MEDAN (IMO 9002207) at a yard owned by Kabir Steel group. 

 

The ORO SINGA was sold by Indonesian company Selebes Sarana for more than $9m in Batam, Indonesia. Before reaching the shores of Sitakunda, the vessel was reflagged to Comoros and renamed SINGAPURA. It was said to have around 400 tonnes of sludge on board that needed to be removed prior recycling. According to shipping databases, the cash buyer involved in the sale was GMS, one of the most well-known dealers of end-of-life ships. GMS, which is behind a significant share of the total tonnage beached in the Indian subcontinent every year, praises itself as a sustainable leader of the sector. Yet, it keeps dealing with the worst shipbreaking destinations on the planet. Twelve accidents, causing nine deaths and twelve injures, have been registered at SN Corporation since 2009. In 2021 alone, two workers died and five suffered severe burns at the yard. GMS has also been linked by media and civil society to several toxic trade scandals, at least three of which are currently being criminally investigated by enforcement authorities in the UK and Iceland. [1]

 

Beached Oro Singa in Chattogram - September 2021 - © NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Press Release – NGOs denounce death toll of shipbreaking and call for an urgent move of the industry to safe and sustainable platforms

In the last weeks, seven workers tragically died while dismantling vessels in Bangladesh and Turkey. 

 

Five workers were killed and three severely injured in seven separate accidents on the infamous shipbreaking beach of Chattogram, Bangladesh. The fatalities were caused by explosions, falls from height, falling steel plates and exposure to toxic fumes.   

 

On 12 August, an iron piece fell injuring Alim, a cutter man who was dismantling the FSO DARING LIBREVILLE (IMO 9002623) at Mother Steel shipbreaking yard. The vessel was owned by Thai shipping company Nathalin Co Ltd. A month later, on 14 September, an explosion of an oxygen cylinder killed another worker at the same yard onboard the same unit.  

 

On 19 August, Rakib fatally fell from another FSO, the ENERGY STAR (IMO 9118393), owned by Thai shipping company Prima Marine PCL.  

 

On 20 and 21 August, two accidents happened at S.R.S Ship Breakers onboard the ship TABERNACLE PRINCE (IMO 8400579), owned by Sri Lankan company Tokyo Cement Co Lanka. The workers, Dahranjan Tripura and Dhonesshor Tripura, died after having inhaled toxic fumes. Dahranjan died on the spot during an illegal night shift, whilst his relative Dhonesshor died at the hospital a day after the second accident took place.  

 

On 23 August, Roshed and Md. Biplob received severe burn injuries at Arefin Enterprise while cutting a pipe inside the MAX MORON (IMO 9138616), owned by Greek ship owner Tide Line Inc.  

 

On 24 August, Mohammed Ali lost his life while dismantling the Hong Kong-owned vessel HUA JIAN 107 (IMO 8421298).  

 

The terrible sequence of accidents in Chattogram, which increases the yearly death toll dramatically in such a short period of time, not only shows a lack of responsibility by shipping companies as they continue to sell their end-of-life vessels to be broken down under knowingly dangerous conditions, but also a lack of action by the Bangladeshi government to regulate the industry.  

"Bangladeshi authorities need to face their responsibility to protect their citizens’ rights and ensure the effective enforcement of the law. Business profits can no longer be privileged at the expense of human lives. Urgent action has to be taken against the industry at both national and international level to stop the incessant breach of basic human rights and environmental laws on the beach of Chattogram."
Sara Rita da Costa - Project Officer - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

In Aliaga, Turkey, last weekend, two workers lost their lives when a rope broke during dismantling operations. Veli Bal died on the spot, İlyas Bıdık died on the way to the hospital due to his injuries. The accident occurred at Metas ship recycling yard where not even two months ago another fatal accident killed two workers, Yılmaz Demir and Oğuz Taşkın. Metas is owned by EU-listed ship recycling yard Ege Çelik, which is located just few meters away.  

"The death of now four workers at Metas ship recycling yard raises serious concerns that vital occupational safety measures have been neglected. The operations at the yard must be stopped immediately to allow for a full investigation and to prevent any further accidents and loss of life."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Ship recycling is a heavy industry that involves the handling of many toxic substances and working at height as well as in confined spaces. To ensure the safety of workers and the protection of the surrounding environment facilities need have adequate infrastructure to allow for safe lifting operations and full containment of pollutants. The NGO Shipbreaking Platform is calling for a move of the industry to dry-dock operations, compliance with occupational health and safety standards as well as established workers’ rights, and accountability for the management of hazardous wastes originating from ships in line with international law. 

Platform publishes South Asia Quarterly Update #26

In this quarterly publication, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform informs about the shipbreaking industry in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. Providing an overview of accidents that took place on the beaches of South Asia and recent on-the-ground developments, including our activities, we aim to inform the public about the negative impacts of substandard shipbreaking practices as well as positive steps aimed at the realisation of environmental justice and the protection of workers’ rights. 

 

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