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. 

Press Release – Two workers die while scrapping cruise ship in Turkey  

Yet another fatal accident recently took place at the ship recycling yards of Aliağa, Turkey. On 12 July, Yılmaz Demir (55 years old) and Oğuz Taşkın (30 years old) were onboard the cruise ship CARNIVAL INSPIRATION 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. The exact circumstances of the accident are still unclear, but the fire supposedly broke out in the engine room. An investigation led by local authorities is ongoing and expected to be finalised soon.

 

As reported one year ago, the CARNIVAL INSPIRATION was bought by EU-listed yard Ege Çelik. Due to lack of dismantling capacity, Ege Çelik, with ship owner Carnival Corporation's approval, subsequently moved the cruise to Metas, a ship recycling facility recently acquired by Ege Çelik itself but not yet part of the EU list.

 

The demand for better scrapping practices than those available at the South Asian shipbreaking beaches has led to a sharp increase of larger tonnage reaching Aliağa. There, prices offered to ship owners are higher than what ship recycling facilities located in the EU are able to pay.

"The heaping up of ships in Aliağa must not compromise OHS management. Cruise ships are notoriously complex structures full of compartments and potentially deadly hazards that require a skilled workforce and time to take apart. To reduce the current pressure on Aliağa, the EU needs to boost additional capacity in the EU in line with the European Green Deal. There are many ships to scrap in the coming years and those seeking sustainable solutions need more options. "
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

The recent tragedy is another sad reminder of how dangerous ship recycling can be. In the last ten months, the Turkish ship recycling industry has been hit by other serious accidents. Two workers lost their lives at two separate yards that are included in the EU List of approved ship recycling facilities. These recent accidents have prompted increased concerns about the conditions in Aliağa, including the management of hazardous wastes downstream and the lack of transparency on occupational diseases that sicken the workers. Since 1992, the year when a big explosion cost the lives of seven workers at plot 17, local NGOs have reported at least 47 occupational deaths in Aliağa.

"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. Yet,  industry stakeholders continue to claim that there are no occupational diseases at the shipbreaking yards. Workers' health violations and illegal practices with regards to removal and disposal of hazardous materials, such as asbestos, are ignored  [1]. Aliağa is dying , along with its shipbreaking workers, under the very heavy load and pace of full commission books and growing profits for an untransparent 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

 

NOTE

 

[1] When answering a Parliamentary Motion on 20 May 2021, the Turkish Environment Ministry stated that 714 ships have been dismantled in Aliağa in the last five years, resulting in the disposal of 74.325 tons of hazardous waste, including approximately 250 tons of asbestos. The figure for asbestos seems grossly underestimated, taking into account that the yards in Aliağa have dismantled numerous military vessels; oil and gas units; and also older vintage RoRo/passenger ships operating in the Mediterranean, all of which are expected to contain large amounts of asbestos-contaminated materials.

 


CORRECTION

 

An earlier version of this press release was corrected on 28 July to reflect that the accident in 1992 that cost the lives of seven workers occurred at plot 17 owned by Cukurova, and not EGE Çelik. The two companies are not linked.


 

Press Release – Belgian Public Prosecutor appeals acquittal of CMB’s subsidiary Bocimar NV

On 25 June, the Court of Antwerp dismissed the charges pressed against ship owner Bocimar NV for the scrapping of a vessel in a Bangladeshi yard where a shipbreaking worker died.

 

In 2016, Bocimar NV, a subsidiary of Companie Maritime Belge (CMB), sold the Belgian-flagged MINERAL WATER (IMO 9175066) to a scrap-dealer, also known as ‘cash buyer’. Bocimar’s lawyers stated that the company had merely sought the highest price for their end-of-life vessel, which at the time could only be obtained at the infamous beaching yards of Chattogram, Bangladesh. [1] They argued that whilst ignoring the human rights breaches and the environmental damage caused by shipbreaking in Bangladesh for the sake of profit “may not have been sympathetic”, “it was not illegal”. 

 

The European Union (EU) Ship Recycling Regulation which regulates the recycling of EU-flagged vessels was adopted in 2013 but only became applicable in December 2018. It did thus not apply to the 2016 scrap sale of Bocimar’s Belgian-flagged ship. The Prosecutor instead argued that the decision to scrap the ship was taken in Belgium at Bocimar’s Antwerp offices when the vessel was still sailing under the Belgian ship registry, rendering its disposal accountable to the rules of the EU Waste Shipment Regulation, which prohibits the export of toxic waste from the EU to non-OECD countries.

 

The principled application of Belgian and EU law was not as such disputed in Court. Neither did Bocimar NV dispute that the MINERAL WATER became waste upon the company’s decision to scrap the ship. The vessel was, however, sailing in Chinese waters when it was sold for scrap, and Bocimar’s lawyers argued that this meant EU waste laws could not be applied as the ship never physically departed as waste from the EU – arguments that the Antwerp Court accepted and which the Prosecutor is now appealing.

"Everything about the vessel points towards Belgium – a Belgian company choses to scrap its Belgian-flagged ship at a place where it is known that shipbreaking destroys workers’ health, local livelihoods and the environment, and is not hold liable? Companies have a duty of care meaning that they are accountable for business decisions that cause harm, even in their supply chain. "
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Bocimar NV, as well as Euronav NV and Exmar NV which are also closely linked to the Belgian shipping family Saverys, continued to sell their scrap ships to the beaching yards even after the outrage of the MINERAL WATER’s scrapping in Bangladesh was revealed in the Standaard [2].

 

CMB NV and companies linked to the Saverys family own and operate a large fleet [3], including at least 19 vessels built before 2006 that are expected to reach the end of their operational life in the coming years. 

"CMB NV and Euronav NV have ambitious plans on getting zero emission vessels powered by zero emission fuels into operation by 2030. This will inevitably lead to the scrapping of older ships not compatible with their ambitious GHG emission reduction targets. If CMB is not compelled to improve its recycling practices out of mere 'sympathy' with exploited workers and the coastal environments in South Asia, they will surely want to consider this if they are intent on obtaining sustainable financing for the greening of their fleet."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Indeed, the recently adopted EU Taxonomy on Sustainable Financing takes a life-cycle approach to shipping. According to the taxonomy, financing aimed at for example climate mitigation must not undermine any of the EU’s other environmental objectives. For shipping companies wanting to secure funding to green their operations it is thus key that they have a policy for using only EU-approved ship recycling facilities at end-of-life.

 

NOTES

 

[1] The sale of the MINERAL WATER saw Bocimar NV earning 5.400.000 USD. Scrap prices obtained in Bangladesh were around 300 USD/LDT in 2016, almost the double of what could be obtained for recycling at yards located in either China or Turkey and that follow higher environmental and OHS standards. Recycling in Ghent, Belgium, where vessels are dismantled alongside and using a slipway as well as industrial heavy lifting cranes would have brought Bocimar NV a profit of approximately 100 USD/LDT.

 

[2] In 2016 Bocimar NV sold two additional ships for scrapping in Bangladesh: BEAR HUNTER (IMO 9292254) at a price of 6.500.000 USD and BULL HUNTER (IMO 9292242) at a price of 6.450.000 USD. Euronav NV sold three Greek flagged vessels to beaching yards: the CAP GEORGES (IMO 9128283) for 10.600.000 USD in 2017 and the CAP JEAN (IMO 9158147) for 10.600.000 USD in 2018, both to Bangladesh, as well as the CAP ROMUALD (IMO 9160229) in 2018 to India for 10.900.000 USD. Exmar NV sold the Belgium flagged COURCHEVILLE (IMO 8804725) to India for an undisclosed price in 2018.

 

[3] CMB NV, including its subsidiaries Bocimar NV and Delphis NV, and other shipping companies closely linked to the Saverys family, including Exmar NV and Euronav NV, own more than 100 vessels - mainly tankers, bulk- and gas carriers.

 

[4] Euronav NV recently announced having raised an 80 million sustainability loan with built in climate related targets. Whilst they primarily own a relatively young fleet, at least 9 vessels are built before 2006. In 2017 and 2018, Euronav NV sold three vessels to beaching yards in South Asia, see note [2] above.

 

Press Release – Pakistani workers poisoned during scrapping of infamous mercury-laden tanker

The Floating Storage and Offloading (FSO) tanker J. NAT has been beached on the shipbreaking shores of Gadani, Pakistan despite clear warnings by Interpol and international civil society groups that the vessel contains high levels of toxics. 

 

For more than a year the vessel has been under the spotlight of enforcement agencies and public watchdogs for its illegal export from Indonesia and the multiple attempts to illegally scrap it in South Asia. In Bangladesh and India, local authorities banned its entry due to the dangerous presence of hazardous substances in its steel structures, ballast waters, oil slops and oil sludges following alerts by NGOs. In an attempt to conceal the ship’s identity, its name has been changed several times, from J. NAT to RADIANT to CHERISH, and its real-time location concealed. After several months off the radar, the vessel recently reappeared in Mumbai before initiating its final voyage towards Pakistan.

 

Despite the risks linked to the presence of hazardous substances onboard the vessel, workers were instructed to initiate its scrapping at Plot 60 on the Gadani shipbreaking beach. Local media reports that mercury-contaminated oil sludge was removed from the ship and filled in drums for sale, with workers complaining of severe burning, rushes on their hands and face, and breathing difficulties. It is further likely that the vessel's steel is contaminated by mercury, which will release extremely toxic vapours when heated by for example torch-blowers [1]. Exposure to mercury, even at low levels, has been linked to central nervous system damage, kidney and liver impairment, reproductive and developmental disorders, defects in foetuses and learning deficits. 

 

Dismantling operations of the J. NAT have now been halted by local authorities, and an investigation has been launched. It is not the first time the yard owner, Dewan Rizwan, a former Chairman of the Gadani Shipbreaking Owners Association, has exposed workers to serious risk. At least five workers died in a fire onboard a ship at his yard in January 2017.

 

The NGO Shipbreaking Platform, Basel Action Network (BAN), European Environmental Bureau (EEB), IPEN (International Pollutants Elimination Network), Nexus3 Foundation, and Zero Mercury Working Group are now urging Pakistani authorities to keep the yard sealed, and call on Indonesian authorities to take back the waste in line with international law. [2]  

"This case is a shocking example of how companies make profits on the backs of vulnerable workers and coastal environments. It is an environmental crime to dodge international laws that ban the trade of hazardous wastes, and the shipping industry has a duty of care to ensure human rights due diligence when selling their obsolete assets. "
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

The harsh working conditions at Gadani became widely known after the explosion on 1 November 2016, the worst tragedy in the history of shipbreaking. At least 29 workers were then killed and more than 60 workers were reported injured, many of them suffering severe burn wounds. Fires, explosions, falls from great height and falling steel blocks kill numerous workers each year at the South Asian shipbreaking yards. 

 

IndustriAll-affiliated Pakistan National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) has voiced strong concerns related to systemic breaches of basic labour rights and occupational health and safety. Most of the shipbreaking workers are migrant workers from the poorest parts of Pakistan, including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. They leave their families behind as there is no appropriate housing or schooling available in Gadani. Workers lack contractual arrangements with the yard management and have to work very long hours without extra pay, no paid holidays or social benefits, such as social security and pension.

 

As in Chattogram and Alang-Sosiya, the shipbreaking yards operate on a tidal beach, causing pollution to both soil and water. The area is void of hazardous waste disposal facilities, so toxics are simply dumped in the sea or outside the shipbreaking plots. A recent study shows elevated concentrations of mercury and methylmercury in the Gadani shipbreaking area. Local activists have filed a complaint under the Balochistan Environmental Protection Act demanding that shipbreaking activities must operate in line with the Basel Convention. So far, the Government has not initiated the necessary changes to ensure a move of the industry to proper facilities and investments in capacity for downstream waste management. 

 

Following the explosion of 1 November 2016, there has been increased awareness, nationally and internationally, of the dangers faced by the workers in the shipbreaking yards in Pakistan. This led to a moratorium on the import and cutting of tankers in Gadani. The ban has since been lifted, but without concrete measures in place to prevent the recurrence of these tragedies. Berge Bulk, Eurotankers, Petrobras, Polaris Shipping and Sinokor are amongst the shipping companies that have selected dirty and dangerous scrapping in Gadani in the last twelve months.

 

The Platform documents the breaking of floating oil and gas units, including drill ships, floating platforms, jack-up rigs and FPSOs/FSOs. An increasing number are beached in South Asia, including units owned by Diamond Offshore, Maersk, Odebrecht, SAIPEM, SBM Offshore and Transocean. As the J. NAT, SBM’s mercury-laden tanker YETAGUN was illegally exported from Indonesia. Its scrapping on the Indian beach of Alang was investigated by Dutch media Zembla and revealed that workers were unknowingly exposed to mercury contamination. 

 

 

 

NOTES

 

[1] Mercury will remain as a thin invisible coating of metal structures used in the oil and gas processing sector. High concentrations of mercury were documented to have accumulated on and in the steel of the tanks of another unit that operated in the same geographical area, the FSO YETAGUN. Mercury is typically absorbed into the surface of the carbon steel tank walls, piping and pumps. When heated up by simple methods such as sand blasting, water blasting, grinding and gas axing (oxy-acetylene cutting torch) extremely toxic mercury vapor is released in high concentrations which will bypass most commercial personal protection equipment (PPE).

 

[2] Pakistan and Indonesia are both signatories to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Waste and their Disposal. Under this Convention, the trade in mercury and several other hazardous wastes that are contained within the structure of the FSO J. NAT is strictly controlled. The import of the vessel requires that there is prior informed consent (PIC) between Indonesian and Pakistani authorities and that the declarations of hazardous materials left on board must reflect actual conditions. Moreover, the Convention requires that no export be made if there is reason to believe that the recycling or waste management facilities employed for the materials will not constitute environmentally sound management under the Convention. The shipbreaking yards that operate on the tidal beach of Gadani are well-known for their dangerous and polluting practices. 

 

Indonesia and Pakistan are also parties to the Minamata Convention. The oil and gas sector is an important source of mercury emissions and its floating storage, production and offloading units will be contaminated. Measures should be taken by the oil and gas sector to ensure the safe removal, storage and disposal of this highly toxic substance.

Platform publishes South Asia Quarterly Update #25

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 – Turkish EU-listed yards shaken by two fatal accidents

NGOs call upon EU to investigate both

 

In the last four months, the Turkish ship recycling industry has been hit by two serious accidents. Two workers lost their lives at two separate yards that are included in the EU List of approved ship recycling facilities. 

 

On 3 October 2020, a worker lost his life during the scrapping of two Transocean offshore rigs at Isiksan yard. A handrail broke and fell, hitting the worker at the back of his neck. Last week, on 4 February, another worker died when hit by a steel block which he was torch-cutting in the secondary cutting area of Simsekler yard, where a Carnival Corporation’s cruise vessel is currently being recycled. Both yards were quick to immediately involve the concerned authorities.

"These tragic fatal accidents are a sad reminder that ship recycling is a heavy and hazardous industry that exposes workers to several safety risks. We are closely following the investigations of the yards, as well as those of Turkish authorities, and expect that full transparency is maintained."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

According to the EU Ship Recycling Regulation, EU-flagged vessels have to be recycled in one of the currently 43 approved sites around the world. Seven out of the 22 yards operating in Aliaga have so far received EU approval. They recycle only a smaller fraction of the world fleet, but have attracted owners that want to recycle their vessels more responsibly than on the beaches of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, where the vast majority of end-of-life vessels end up. 

"The European Commission must ensure that all EU-listed yards operate in line with the requirements of the EU Ship Recycling Regulation. Two serious accidents have taken place at two separate EU-approved facilities in Aliaga, and in both cases we have requested that the Commission takes appropriate action to understand whether these sites indeed operate in line with the Regulation."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

The many risks involved in taking large vessels apart need to be managed at sites that can safely use heavy lifting cranes, contain pollutants and dispose of hazardous materials in line with international waste laws. The accident at Simsekler should further prompt a serious evaluation of how mechanical cutting might contribute to reducing risk, including exposure to toxic fumes and release of slag caused by torch cutting.

"There is enormous scope to improve ship recycling practices, both in terms of safety and environmental protection, as well as to boost recycling- and cost-effectiveness by the use of new innovative technologies."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Press Release – Platform publishes list of ships dismantled worldwide in 2020

The shipping industry continues to exploit workers and the environment for profit

 

According to new data released today by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, 630 ocean-going commercial ships and offshore units were sold to the scrap yards in 2020. Of these vessels, 446 large tankers, bulkers, floating platforms, cargo- and passenger ships were broken down on three beaches in South Asia, amounting to near 90% of the gross tonnage dismantled globally.

 

Ships are considered hazardous waste under international environmental law as they contain many toxic materials and substances within their structures, and onboard as residues. These toxics include, amongst others, cadmium, lead batteries, asbestos, mercury, ozone depleting substances, PAHs, and residue oils, which all need to be managed in a safe and environmentally sound manner. Their export from developed to developing countries is banned by UNEP’s Basel Convention.

 

On the beaches of Alang in India, Chattogram in Bangladesh, and Gadani in Pakistan, where near 90% of the global world tonnage was scrapped last year, the negative consequences of shipbreaking are real and felt by many. Workers – often exploited migrants, some of them children – are exposed to immense risks. They are killed or seriously injured by fires and falling steel plates, and sickened by exposure to toxic fumes and substances. 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 the many hazardous materials embedded in the ships. 

 

"It is a scandal that laws and standards aimed at protecting people and the environment are ignored when scrapping the near totality of the global fleet. Governments, the clients, financiers and insurers of shipping, as well as the employees of shipping, need to take a much stronger stance against this exploitation of vulnerable communities and fragile ecosystems."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Last year, at least 10 workers lost their lives when breaking apart vessels in Bangladesh. At least another 14 were severely injured. Despite repeated attempts to obtain official statistics, no information on accidents at the Indian and Pakistani yards has been made available. The sector suffers from a serious lack of transparency, and it is expected that many accidents go unreported. Many more workers suffer from cancers and other occupational diseases. The detention of BBC reporters and confiscation of footage from France 2 journalists by local officers from the Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB), which controls the port in Alang, reveals how the industry seeks to thwart public scrutiny of the deplorable conditions at the yards.

 


DUMPERS 2020 – Worst practices

 

Greece tops the list of country dumper in 2020. Greek owners sold 48 ships for scrapping in South Asia, most of which were beached in Bangladesh and Pakistan. 

 

Whilst some EU Member States are increasingly cracking down on environmental crime, almost a quarter of the tonnage broken in South Asia was owned by European shipping companies. Greece in particular has systematically closed its eyes to the deplorable end-of-life track record of its shipping industry,” says Jenssen.

 

The ‘worst corporate dumper’ prize goes to South Korean company Polaris Shipping. Under pressure following serious incidents on the Stellar Daisy, which sank in the Atlantic with the loss of 22 lives in 2017, and on the Stellar Banner, which was scuttled off the coast of Brazil in June, Polaris Shipping scrapped 11 of its carriers in 2020.  All units were beached in Bangladesh and Pakistan. Four major accidents, causing the death of one worker, occurred during the dismantling of Polaris’ vessels in Chattogram. On 22 June, during an illegal night shift at Jumuna Ship Breakers yard, Abdul Halim was hit by an iron piece in the stomach on the ship Stellar Knight. On 1 July, Rohul fell and broke five ribs while dismantling the Stellar Iris at KSB Steels yard. On the same day, Mozaffor fell from the Stellar Journey at RA Shipbreaking yard. Finally, on 25 December, Md Ibrahim was killed when hit by a large iron piece while breaking the Stellar Hermes at Kabir Steel’s Khawja yard. According to shipping media Splash, middleman scrap-dealer GMS is linked to several of Polaris’ recent demolition sales.

 

Another South Korean company, Sinokor, is runner-up for worst corporate practice. Sinokor sold four vessels for scrapping in Bangladesh last year. On 24 March, two brothers, Shumon Das and Nironjon Das, died due to toxic gas inhalation while working in the engine room of the tanker West Energy at Kabir Steel’s Khawja shipbreaking yard. Sumon and Nironjon left five children behind. In the same accident, two other workers, Kawser and Habib, were also exposed to the toxic gas and fell sick.

 

Brazilian state-owned company Petrobras comes third for worst corporate practice. Three years have passed since civil society organisations and trade unions urged the Brazilian government to stop the dumping of toxic ships on South Asian beaches. Yet, oil giant Petrobras dumped nine of its old tankers in South Asia last year alone. The units were auctioned off to unscrupulous scrap-dealers, also known as cash buyers. 

 

“To avoid such deplorable practices in the future and ensure the enforcement of international legislation on hazardous waste exports, Brazilian authorities need to introduce stricter requirements for the public auctions of Petrobras’ end-of-life vessels,” says Nicola Mulinaris, Communication and Policy Officer at the NGO Shipbreaking Platform.

 

Berge Bulk, Costamare, Eurobulk, Evergreen, K-Line, Maersk and Swire & Sons are other well-known shipping companies that dumped their toxic ships on South Asian beaches in 2020.


In October, a worker lost his life during the scrapping of two Transocean’s rigs at Isiksan, a Turkish ship recycling yard included in the EU list of approved ship recycling facilities. The accident is a strong reminder of the challenges related to both containment and safety when dismantling offshore units. More than half of the oil and gas units scrapped last year ended up on the beaches of South Asia, including units owned by Noble Corporation, Tidewater and Valaris, as well as top dumper Petrobras. The mercury-laden FSO tanker JNAT was, on the other hand, banned from entering Bangladesh and India after NGOs called upon authorities to halt the import. 

 

Environmental and labour laws that regulate ship recycling exist, but they are ignored and easily circumvented by ship owners, often with the aid of 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 2020 changed flag to one of the black-listed flags Comoros, Palau and St Kitts & Nevis just weeks before hitting the beach. At least 14 of these flag changes enabled ship owners to circumvent the EU Ship Recycling Regulation. [1]

"Whist European shipping companies own 40% of the world fleet, only 5% of end-of-life ships were registered under an EU/EFTA flag in 2020. Flags known for their poor implementation of maritime law have always been particularly popular at end-of-life. Ship owners hiding behind anonymous post box companies set up by cash buyers and backed by blacklisted flag registries is a reality that begs for the introduction and enforcement of measures that effectively hold the real beneficial owners of the vessels responsible."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

In a landmark ruling last year, a Norwegian court sentenced ship owner Georg Eide to six months unconditional imprisonment for having assisted cash buyer Wirana in an attempt to export the Tide Carrier to Pakistan for scrapping. Several other cases of illicit traffic are under investigation: unravelling the murky practices of shipbreaking, they highlight the importance of conducting due diligence when choosing business partners.

 

Due to the pandemic, the cruise shipping sector has been forced to downsize, with many ship owners, such as Carnival Corporation and Pullmantur, taking steps to reduce operating expenses, including the retirement of relatively young vessels. Carnival Corporation receives the 2020 award for best ship recycling practice. Leading by example, the American cruise shipping giant sets a standard the remaining of the cruise and shipping sector can follow.

"Carnival Corporation is honoured to receive this award. Our highest responsibility and top priorities are to be in compliance everywhere we operate in the world, to protect the environment and the health, safety and well-being of our guests, the people in the communities we visit and our shipboard and shoreside employees. This commitment holds true for every stage of the life and retirement cycle for each of our ships."
Carnival Corporation

Clean and safe solutions are already available. Less than a million Light Displacement Tonnes (LDT) were recorded recycled in EU-approved facilities in 2020, which represent a minor fraction of what these yards are able to handle. 

"We applaud companies, such as Carnival Corporation, that have a responsible policy for the recycling of their vessels ‘off the beach’. Now, we call upon policy makers to adopt effective measures, such as a return-scheme for ships, that will incentivise more owners to recycle their assets in a sustainable manner."
Nicola Mulinaris - Communication and Policy Officer - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

For the data visualization of 2020 shipbreaking records, click here. *

For the full Excel dataset of all ships dismantled worldwide in 2020, 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 10 February 2021 - Teekay Corporation informed us that five ships (i.e. Aegean Leader, Petrojarl Cidade de Rio das Ostras, Navion Bergen, Navion Hispania and Apollo Spirit) have been incorrectly attributed to the company in our 2020 shipbreaking records. The documentation provided by Teekay Corporation shows that the company is not linked to any end-of-life sale in 2020. The Platform has therefore rectified the data concerning the beneficial ownership of these vessels. Whilst the Aegean Leader results to be linked to Japanese company NYK, the other four vessels result to be linked to Altera Infrastructure . Altera Infrastructure was formerly known as Teekay Offshore, from which Teekay Corporation divested its interest on April 30 2019.

 

NOTE

 

[1] The EU Ship Recycling Regulation became applicable on 30 December 2018. According to the Regulation, EU-flagged vessels have to be recycled in one of the currently 43 approved facilities around the world included in the EU list. EU-approved ship recycling facilities must comply with high standards for environmental protection and workers’ safety. The EU List is the first of its kind; is the only list of facilities that have been independently audited; and provides an important reference point for sustainable ship recycling. Any ship owner that wants to opt for safe and clean ship recycling can simply choose one of the facilities included on the List. No beaching yard is approved by the EU. 

 

Recent audits by the European Commission in Alang and media reports continue to flag serious concerns related to pollution of the intertidal area; absence of medical facilities; breaches of labour rights and lack of capacity to safely manage several hazardous waste streams, including mercury and radioactive contaminated materials that are typically found on offshore oil and gas units. As highlighted by several NGOs and legal experts at the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), a possible inclusion of Indian yards on the EU List of approved ship recycling facilities would further violate international waste legislation, and be in clear contradiction with the EU's new strategic economic and environmental policy initiatives embedded in the Green Deal.

 

Alang, India - © Amit Dave - Sep 2020
Dirty scrapping of FSO at claimed 'green' Leela yard in Alang, India - © Amit Dave - Sep 2020
Chattogram, Bangladesh - © C.F. - Feb 2019
Petrobras' ship Neusa in Chattogram, Bangladesh - © NGO Shipbreaking Platform - Jan 2021

Platform publishes South Asia Quarterly Update #24

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. 

 

Our annual list of ships scrapped worldwide will be released in a couple of weeks.

 

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

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 publishes South Asia Quarterly Update #22

There were a total of 98 ships broken in the second quarter of 2020. Of these, 60 ships were sold to the beaches of South Asia, where, despite the majority of yards being closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, shipbreaking kept putting workers’ lives at risk. Between April and June, at least 3 workers were severely injured in Bangladesh.

 

 

On April 24, Jalal (35) suffered an accident at Habib Steel shipbreaking yard. He got injured while carrying oxygen bottles from inside the ship.  

 

According to local sources and media, worker Md. Khalil (45) got injured on April 28 at an unauthorised shipbreaking yard recently opened by lawmaker Didarul Alam. Khalil’s leg broke after a hatch cover fell on him while dismantling the vessel Berge Eiger, owned by shipping company Berge Bulk. The worker was transferred to the Dhaka Hospital due to the severity of the injury. 

 

On June 22, an accident took place during an illegal night shift at Jumuna Ship Breakers yard. Abdul Halim (24) was hit by an iron piece in the stomach while cutting the vessel Stellar Knight, owned by South Korean Polaris Shipping. It took a couple of hours for the worker to be transported to the nearest hospital.

 

In the second quarter of 2020, Greek ship owners sold the most ships to South Asian yards, closely followed by Singaporean and South Korean owners. South Korean company Polaris Shipping sold three vessels to Bangladesh for dirty and dangerous breaking. The ship owner hit the headlines in June for the scuttling of the ore carrier STELLAR BANNER off the coast of Brazil.

 

In April, we urged Bangladesh 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 left Indonesian waters even though local activists 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. Maritime databases seem to indicate that the vessel reversed course and changed name to RADIANT. However, its current whereabouts are unknown. 

 

Almost one third of the ships sold to South Asia this quarter changed flag to the registries of Comoros, 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 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.

 

How Covid-19 is affecting vulnerable shipbreaking workers

 

The pandemic is still affecting workers globally, including those employed in the shipbreaking sector in South Asia. 

 

Bangladesh

 

According to local sources, all shipbreaking yards resumed their activities on June 1. One third of them never shut down despite the lockdown, exposing the workers to the risk of contracting the virus and spreading it in the vulnerable local communities.

 

Having been deprived of accessing government support, which is offered only to local workers, migrant workers have been unable to return to their home villages due to the absence of public transport services. Forced to continue to pay rent for the unsanitary and improper accommodation near the shipbreaking yards, migrant workers, mainly from the Northwest of Bangladesh, have been left to starve. This unprecedented emergency situation led us to raise financial support to distribute, in partnership with our member organisation OSHE, food and personal protective equipment items to 130 of the most deprived shipbreaking workers’ families in Sitakunda. 

 

India

 

After a month since the start of the national lockdown in India, the government announced the reopening of several industries in Gujarat. At the end of June, around 30% of the workforce was working at the shipbreaking yards in Alang. The fact that around 75% the migrant workers returned to their home villages in Bihar, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra has led the yard owners to look at the diamond sector’s unemployed workers from Saurashtra.