Platform News – NGO Shipbreaking Platform presents Impact Report 2018/2019

These past two years the Platform has won support for sustainable ship recycling in the financial sector while raising the stakes for ship owners who opt for substandard shipbreaking on South Asian beaches. Effectively exposing the conditions behind the greenwash of the Indian yards, while our member organisations empowered workers in Bangladesh, we were thrilled last year to see new laws enter into force that will deter ship owners from dangerous scrapping in favour of sustainable ship recycling.

 

Thanks to the support of our funders, Board of Directors, Members, Partners and individuals that have backed our work in 2018/2019 and beyond, we have been able to reach some of the important milestones of our campaign!

 

As we move forward, the Platform has an important role to play in promoting solutions that encompass the respect of human rights, corporate responsibility and environmental justice. To ensure that safe and clean ship recycling becomes the norm, and not the exception, the Platform will continue to inform policy makers, financial and corporate leaders, as well as researchers and journalists. Change in shipbreaking will come through leadership, incentives and accountability.

 

We remain optimistic in this challenging time, and, more than ever, we are committed to working with vulnerable workers and communities to reverse the environmental harm and human rights abuses caused by current shipbreaking practices. Will you join us? We need your support to fulfil our mission!

 

Download the Platform’s Impact Report 2018/2019 here or by clicking the image above.

 

Platform publishes South Asia Quarterly Update #21

There were a total of 166 ships broken in the first quarter of 2020. Of these, 126 ships were sold to the beaches of South Asia for dirty and dangerous breaking [1]. Between January and March, at least 4 workers have lost their lives and at least 7 were severely injured when breaking ships in Bangladesh. 

 

 

On February 3, Liton Das (27) was hit by a falling iron plate on his right leg at the Bangladeshi M.M. shipbreaking yard. Liton currently lies in his bed at home with an open wound at high risk of infection. 

 

On February 4, cutter man Kiron Tripura (28) died at Ziri Subedar shipbreaking yard. A week later, Md. Mizanur Rahman (22) fell from great height whilst dismantling the vessel Anangel Hali, owned by Greek Angelicoussis Shipping Group, at S.N. Corporation yard. Mizanur died on the spot. He had started to work as a shipbreaker only four days prior his death. 

 

On March 24, two brothers, Sumon Das (45) and Nironjon Das (48), died when breathing atoxic gas, while working in the engine room of the tanker West Energy, owned by South Korean company Sinokor. The vessel was beached at Kabir Steel’s Khawja shipbreaking yard. Sumon and Nironjon leave five children behind. In the same accident, two other workers, Kawser and Habib, were also exposed to the toxic gas and fell sick. The Department of Inspection for Factories Establishments (DIFE) stated to local media that the accident will be investigated.  

 

Accident records in Gadani, Pakistan and Alang, India, are extremely difficult to obtain. A recent BBC Disclosure report reveals how companies involved, as well as Indian local authorities, seek to thwart public scrutiny of the deplorable conditions in Alang. Also other journalists that have visited the Indian shipbreaking yards, often unannounced and undercover, have documented a reality that starkly contrasts with the industry efforts to greenwash the beaching of vessels for breaking. Workers risk their lives due to lack of infrastructure and dangerous conditions. They are furthermore not provided adequate respiratory protective gear and thus exposed to hazardous materials and gases that impair their health, causing cancer and other respiratory diseases. The death toll caused by occupational diseases contracted at the beaching yards is not disclosed in either India, Pakistan or Bangladesh, and is sadly likely to be shockingly high. 

 

In the first quarter of 2020, Saudi Arabian ship owners sold the most ships to South Asian yards, followed by South Korean and Greek owners. Shipping company Berge Bulk sent five vessels to Bangladesh for dirty and dangerous breaking.. These add up to the four ships that the ship owner sold to the same beach last year. Berge Bulk’s scrapping practices should prompt the Lloyd’s List Asia Awards to withdraw the prize for “Excellence in Environmental Management” the company recently received for its commitment to environmental conservation. Indeed, there is nothing laudable about putting workers lives at serious risk and polluting sensitive coastal environments.

 

Almost half 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 that purchase vessels cash from ship owners, and are grey- and black-listed shipping registries 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 six ships that de-registered from an European flag registry prior the last voyage to South Asia in order to circumvent EU legislation. 

 

How Covid-19 pandemic is affecting vulnerable shipbreaking workers

 

The current Covid-19 pandemic is also affecting the South Asian shipbreaking workers. Authorities have halted imports of vessels and imposed strict lockdowns.

 

As reported by the newspaper The Indian Express, migrant workers in Alang, unable to return to their home villages, are facing serious financial difficulties. They are yet to receive their March salaries and have not received any alternative support, such as food, from their employers. Fortunately, media report that the Gujarat government has now stepped in and distributed thousands of ration kits to the migrant workforce stuck in Alang.

 

In Pakistan, more than 400 food bags were handed out to the National Trade Union Federation Pakistan and the Shipbreaking workers Union at Gadani shipbreaking yard.

 

In Bangladesh, according to the Platform’s member organisation YPSA, only local workers are partially receiving food support from the government and from some yard owners. Migrant workers, on the other hand, have not received any public support. YPSA and OSHE, another Platform member organisation active in the Chattogram area, are currently providing assistance to part of the migrant workforce. There is a dire need to secure emergency food assistance, as well as medical check-ups and awareness raising to avoid the spread of Covid-19.

 

PLEASE DONATE TODAY AND HELP MAKE A DIFFERENCE

 

DONATE ONLINE or by BANK TRANSFER

 

In the shipbreaking area of Chattogram, Bangladesh, 1070 workers that have lost their income due to the Covid-19 lockdown have received food supplies [2]. However, this is not enough as there are thousands of workers and their families who need support. We are therefore calling for YOUR support NOW to make the delivery of food packages to more workers and their  families possible. In collaboration with our member organisation OSHE, we will mobilise resources during this challenging and difficult time. 

 

Every little bit helps! Your gift will feed not only the workers but their families too!

 

Help Migrant Workers Programme

 

€50
Feeds 1 family – 5 family members – for 2 weeks

 

€100
Feeds 2 families – 10 family members – for 2 weeks

 

€500
Feeds 10 families – 50 family members – for 2 weeks

 

€1,000
Feeds 20 families – 100 family members – for 2 weeks

 

€1,000+
We still need to help thousands of workers who have been affected by this pandemic

 

€ 
Other amount (please specify)

 

Please put reference “FOOD PACKAGES” on your communication when making the donation.  All donation earmarked “FOOD PACKAGES” will go towards the Help Migrant Workers Programme in Bangladesh. Once the donation has been made, we would really appreciate if you could send us an e-mail with your full name and donation amount. If you need further information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

 

Thank you for your support!

 

 

 

NOTES

 

[1] During the first quarter of 2020, the following number of vessels were broken in other locations: 26 in Turkey, 6 in China, 5 in Europe and 3 in the rest of the world.

 

[2] YPSA’s Press Release

 

The Toxic Tide – 2021 Shipbreaking Records

THE TOXIC TIDE

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

 

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.

 

Last year, 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.

 

 

"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

 

Explore our Data Visualisation and read our Press Release.

 

 

Press Release – Platform publishes list of ships dismantled worldwide in 2019

Most shipping companies continue to opt for the highest price at the worst scrapping yards

 

According to new data released today by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, 674 ocean-going commercial ships and offshore units were sold to the scrap yards in 2019. Of these vessels, 469 large tankers, bulkers, floating platforms, cargo- and passenger ships were broken down on only three beaches in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, amounting to near 90% of the gross tonnage dismantled globally.

 

"Bangladesh remains the favoured dumping ground for end-of-life ships laden with toxics. There is wide-spread knowledge of the irreparable damage caused by dirty and dangerous practices on tidal mudflats, yet profit is the only decisive factor for most ship owners when selling their vessels for breaking."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Last year, at least 26 workers lost their lives when breaking apart the global fleet. The Platform documented accidents that killed 24 workers on the beach of Chattogram (formerly known as Chittagong), making 2019 the worst year for Bangladeshi yards in terms of fatalities since 2010. At least another 34 workers were severely injured. Whilst the total death toll in Indian yards is unknown, local sources and media confirmed at least two deaths at shipbreaking yards that claim to be operating safely, but have failed to be included in the EU list of approved ship recycling facilities [1].

 


DUMPERS 2019 – Worst practices

 

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES and GREECE top the list of country dumpers in 2019. UAE owners were responsible for the highest absolute number of ships sold to South Asian shipbreaking yards in 2019: 45 ships in total. Greek owners closely followed with 40 beached vessels.

 

The ‘worst corporate dumper’ prize goes to the Taiwanese container shipping line Evergreen. In the last years, the company has been under the spotlight for its damaging shipbreaking practices. In January 2018, the Norwegian Central Bank announced its decision to divest from Evergreen due to the ship owner’s repeated sale of vessels for dirty and dangerous breaking on the beach of Chattogram. Since then, the company has clearly not changed its policy. Eleven of Evergreen’s vessels ended up in South Asia in 2019. On 23 July, cutter man Shahidul lost his life while working at Kabir Steel’s Khawja shipbreaking yard in Bangladesh. Shahidul was dismantling Evergreen’s EVER UNION when he fell from a great height. He died on the spot.

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Dry bulk shipping company Berge Bulk is runner-up for worst corporate practice. Four ships owned by the Bermuda-based ship owner ended up in Bangladesh for dirty and dangerous breaking. Berge Bulk’s scrapping practices should prompt the Lloyd’s List Asia Awards to withdraw the prize for “Excellence in Environmental Management” the company recently received for its commitment to environmental conservation. Indeed, there is nothing laudable about putting workers lives at serious risk and polluting sensitive coastal environments.

 

Danish container shipping giant Maersk scrapped four vessels on the Indian beaches last year. The company did not hesitate to leave the Danish shipping registry in order to circumvent the new EU laws requiring the use of EU-approved recycling facilities, and at least two of the ships even left EU waters in breach of an international and European ban on the export of hazardous waste to developing countries. In November, Bangladesh Courts condemned the illegal breaking of Maersk’s FPSO North Sea Producer which had been sold to cash buyer GMS and fraudulently exported from the UK in 2016. Criminal investigations are underway in the UK.

 

Other well-known shipping companies that in 2019 dumped their toxic ships on South Asian beaches include: Costamare, CMA CGM, Diamond Offshore, ENSCO, MOL, MSC, NYK Line, Tidewater and Vale.


In India, many yards now boast having upgraded their beaching facilities to comply with the requirements set by the International Maritime Organisation’s Hong Kong Convention. Recent inspection visits by the European Commission in Alang and media reports, however, 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 a number of hazardous waste streams, including mercury and radioactive contaminated materials that are typically found on offshore oil & gas units. No facility located in South Asia meets the safety and environmental requirements for EU approval.

 

All ships sold to Chattogram, Alang and Gadani pass via the hands of scrap-dealers, better known as cash buyers. These pay the highest price for end-of-life vessels and are inherently linked to the beaching yards. Cash buyers typically re-name, re-register and re-flag the vessels on their last voyage. Black-listed flags, such as Palau, Comoros and St Kitts & Nevis, were particularly popular in 2019: almost half of the ships sold to South Asia changed flag to one of these registries just weeks before hitting the beach. None were beached under an EU flag, despite many vessels having been sold by a European shipping company.

"Policy makers need to adopt effective measures to divert ships towards the sites that have been approved by the EU. The fact that old ships are registered under flags known for the poor implementation of international maritime law sheds serious doubt over the effectiveness of legislation based on flag state jurisdiction only, including the EU Ship Recycling Regulation."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Today banks, pension funds and other financial institutions are actively taking a closer look at how they might contribute to a shift towards better ship recycling practices off the beach, taking into account social and environmental criteria, not just financial returns, when selecting asset values or clients [2]. Police and environmental authorities are also increasingly monitoring the movements of end-of-life vessels. Following the Seatrade judgement in the Netherlands where, for the first time, a ship owner was held criminally liable for having intended to sell four end-of-life ships to Indian beaching yards, several other cases of illegal traffic are under investigation. [3] Aiding and abiding environmental crime is equally punishable: insurers, brokers and maritime warranty surveyors could therefore also be held liable. By unravelling the murky practices of shipbreaking, these cases highlight the importance of conducting due diligence when choosing business partners.

"Clean and safe solutions are already available. We applaud companies, such as Dutch Van Oord, that have had a responsible ship recycling policy ‘off the beach’ for many years. Whilst other ship owners lament over the lack of capacity to recycle sustainably, only 31 vessels were recorded recycled in EU-approved facilities, which represent a minor fraction of what these yards are able to handle."
Nicola Mulinaris - Communication and Policy Officer - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

For the data visualization of 2019 shipbreaking records, click here. *

For the full Excel dataset of all ships dismantled worldwide in 2019, 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.

 

NOTES

 

[1] The EU Ship Recycling Regulation became applicable on 1 January 2019. According to the Regulation, EU-flagged vessels have to be recycled in one of the currently 41 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 41 facilities that are now included on the List.

 

[2] In early 2018, Scandinavian pension funds KLP and GPFG were the first to divest from four shipping companies, including containership company Evergreen, due to their beaching practices.

 

[3] In Scotland, Diamond Offshore and cash buyer GMS are still under investigation for having attempted to illegally export three heavily contaminated platforms that had operated in the North Sea and were cold-stacked in Cromarty Firth. The platforms have been detained in Scotland since January 2018.

 

Platform publishes South Asia Quarterly Update #20

There were a total of 122 ships broken in the third quarter of 2019. Of these, 73 ships were sold to the beaches of South Asia for dirty and dangerous breaking [1]. Between July and September, eleven workers have lost their lives and twenty were severely injured when breaking ships in Bangladesh and India. So far this year, the Platform has recorded 19 deaths and 30 severe injuries in South Asia.

 

 

 

Cutter helper Mamun Hossen (35) was killed on 3 July when he was crushed by a falling steel plate at Tahsin Steel Corp shipbreaking yard in Chattogram, Bangladesh. 

 

On 23 July, cutter man Shahidul (40) lost his life while working at Kabir Steel’s Khawja shipbreaking yard in Chattogram, Bangladesh. Shahidul was dismantling the container ship EVER UNION (IMO 9116618), owned by Taiwanese shipping giant Evergreen, when he fell from a great height. He died on the spot. Following the accident, the government imposed a three month ban on the import of end-of-life vessel on the yard, and has demanded that safety measures are taken. Already in 2018, Scandinavian investors withdrew their funds from Evergreen due to the company’s poor shipbreaking practices.

 

On 30 July, fitter men Nantu Hossen (24), Rasel Matabbor (25) and Chobidul (26) lost their lives due to a toxic gas leak on board the tanker MEDELIN ATLAS at Mak Corporation yard in Chattogram, Bangladesh. At least six other workers were severely injured. According to shipping databases, the vessel was sold for breaking by Indonesian ship owner Waruna Nusa Sentana. 

 

During the scrapping of the Greek-owned container ship CSL VIRGINIA (IMO 9289568) at Ziri shipbreaking yard in Bangladesh, a heavy cable collapsed on 31 August, hitting several workers at once. Aminul Islam (35) and Tushar Chakma (27) lost their lives. Thirteen other workers suffered severe injuries and were taken to Chattogram Medical College Hospital for treatment. 

 

The circumstances of two additional fatalities at the shipbreaking yards in Chattogram this quarter still remain unclear.

 

According to Indian media, two workers died on the shipbreaking beach of Alang in the last quarter. Two separate accidents took place at scrapping yards that have applied to be included in the EU list of approved ship recycling facilities and are promoted by the industry as “safe and green”. On 29 July, Subash Vishwakarma lost his life when a metal plate fell on his head at Priya Blue yard - Plot V1. On 3 September, an explosion during cutting operations caused the death of one worker and severely injured another worker at Shree Ram’s yard Plot 78/81. In September, Dutch TV revealed the dire working conditions at a yard owned by Priya Blue, and the trafficking of false inventories of hazardous materials to hide high levels of mercury onboard offshore units.

 

In the third quarter of 2019, Japanese, American and Greek ship owners sold the most ships to South Asian yards, followed by Indonesian and South Korean owners. 

 

Almost half 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 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 EU Ship Recycling Regulation. 

 

Criminal investigations have been launched by authorities in Europe following Platform alerts of imminent illegal exports of toxic end-of-life vessels. The case of the ferry SIR ROBERT BOND is, however, illustrative of the Canadian government’s lack of action. In the last two years, the ship was bought and sold several times: from the Canadian government to a peat moss producer in New Brunswick, to an agent in Quebec, who allegedly sold it for scrap to Indian breakers. In May, the Platform alerted competent authorities about the imminent illegal export of the vessel to South Asia from Canada. Despite authorities having been informed, the owner managed to illegally tow the unit to Alang, where it was beached a few weeks ago.

 

NOTES

 

[1] During the second quarter of 2019, the following number of vessels were broken in other locations: 35 in Turkey, 5 in China, 4 in Europe and 5 in the rest of the world.

 

Platform News – SAVE THE DATE: “With Bare Hands” on 3 October 2019 in Brussels

Want to learn more about where our toxic waste ends up? What efforts are being made to stop it from causing harm to communities and the environment in the Global South? 

 

MO* Magazine, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform and its member organisation FIDH are organising a debate at the iconic Beursschouwburg in Brussels on 3 October. 

 

Come listen to, amongst others, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Toxics, Baskut Tuncak; Goldman Prize winner and Bangladesh Supreme Court lawyer, Syeda Rizwana Hasan; Belgian Federal Police; and Members of the European Parliament talk about ways to prevent toxic trade. 

 

The debate will be followed by the performance With Bare Hands (Live): Life in Bangladesh's Shipbreaking Yards, written by Isacco Chiaf, Sharanya Deepak, Serenella Martufi and Caroline Massie.

 

Due to the limited number of seats available, the registration is mandatory. Participants can register here. 

 

 

Background 

 

After a slew of toxic trade disasters in the 1970’s and 1980’s, the international community rallied together to reject the free trade of hazardous materials, prompting the adoption of international treaties that aim at regulating transboundary waste flows. The laws are however easy to circumvent and the developed world’s waste still finds its way to developing counties for cheap and unsafe disposal. The impact of toxic waste dumping in these counties is devastating and severely harms both human health and the environment.

 

Electronic waste (e-waste) and end-of-life ships are amongst the most devastating toxic waste streams globally. The debate, which is part of the festival Quinzaine de la Solidarité Internationale - Veertiendaagse Internationale Solidariteit 2019, will address the global impact caused by the dumping of hazardous waste, focusing particularly on these two waste flows.

 

 

Practical info

 

Event Timing: 3 October 2019, 17:30 - 20:30

 

Event Address: Beursschouwburg - Goudenzaal, Rue Auguste Orts 20-28, 1000 Brussels

 

Press Release – Two fatal accidents at Indian yards under EU scrutiny

According to local media, two workers recently died on the shipbreaking beach of Alang, India. Two separate accidents took place at well-known scrapping yards that have applied to be included in the EU list of approved ship recycling facilities.

 

On July 29, 50 years old Subash Vishwakarma lost his life at Priya Blue yard - Plot V1. He was working on a ship when a metal plate fell on his head. He was transferred to the nearest hospital in bad condition and pronounced dead at arrival. On September 3, due to an explosion during cutting operations, one worker lost his life and one got severely injured at Shree Ram yard - Plot 78/81. Fellow workers that witnessed the tragic event were unwilling to share information with journalists. The accident is under police investigation.

"We expect transparency on the causes of these fatalities, and that both the yards and owners of the vessels upon which the accidents occurred are held to account."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Last year, at least 14 workers lost their life at the Indian Alang shipbreaking yards. The exact number of fatalities is not available as local authorities do not share information — serious injuries are moreover rarely recorded, and occupational diseases, such as cancer, respiratory and skin diseases, are not documented at all.

 

Both Priya Blue and Shree Ram plots [1] were amongst the first yards to obtain so-called “Statements of Compliance with the Hong Kong Convention” from Japanese ClassNK. Recently, they have been inspected by the European Commission to assess whether they comply with the requirements set in the EU Ship Recycling Regulation. Site inspection reports highlighting a series of deficiencies related to the cutting operations in the intertidal zone, downstream waste management, medical facilities and labour laws were published earlier this year. As a consequence, the yards, despite significant pressure from industry stakeholders, were not included in the EU list of approved ship recycling facilities. New inspections, also of additional yards, are expected to take place in the coming weeks.

 

The negative environmental impacts of the scrapping activities in Alang are now under scrutiny also in India. In August, the Indian Courts directed an environmental audit of the shipbreaking activities in Alang with a specific focus on the impacts of the beaching method. The directions were given in an appeal filed by Indian environmental group Conservation Action Trust (CAT), following an initial approval to expand the Alang shipbreaking area. The approval was issued despite government reports identifying the beaching method as the most polluting method. 

 

Operating a heavy and hazardous industry on a tidal mudflat would never be allowed in the largest ship owning countries, including the EU. 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 beaching yards in Alang fail on all accounts.

 

Priya Blue yard in Alang, India - © Go Green Go India, 2018

 

NOTES

 

[1] Shree Ram Group owns four plots in Alang. Plots 78/81 and V7 have applied to be included in the EU list. The company also owns Plot 9. Shree Ram hit the headlines in 2016, when Danish company Maersk decided to scrap its old ships Wyoming and Georgia at Plot 78. Investigative journalists revealed severe short-comings of Maersk’s shipbreaking practices in Alang. The Danish shipping giant, however, blatantly disregarded the findings and maintained its beaching mantra.

Press Release – Accident on board Greek ship kills two and injures thirteen

Two deaths and thirteen severe injuries. This is the toll of victims following yet another accident at the shipbreaking beach of Chattogram, Bangladesh. The accident occurred in the afternoon of Saturday 31 August at Ziri Subedar shipbreaking yard. 

 

During scrapping operations on the ship CSL VIRGINIA (IMO 9289568) a heavy cable collapsed, hitting several workers at once. Aminul Islam, 35 years old, and Tushar Chakma, 27 years old, lost their lives. Thirteen workers [1] suffered severe injuries and were taken to Chattogram Medical College Hospital for treatment. Following the accident, local authorities ordered the temporary closure of the yard. Investigations are ongoing. 

 

 

So far this year, fifteen shipbreaking workers have lost their lives in Chattogram. It is not the first time Ziri’s failure to ensure safe working conditions causes death. [2] 

"It's sad that our regulatory authorities had to wait for deaths of seven workers and grievous injuries of fifteen in a row of seven incidences in this yard alone since 2011. Had they acted earlier, we could have saved these invaluable lives. The negligent authorities should also be punished as their failures and seeming cohesion have led to these tragic events. I also wonder how long it will take for the West to act on these deaths and stop sending vessels to the unsafe yards of Bangladesh."
Syeda Rizwana Hasan - Chief Executive - Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA)

The container ship CSL VIRGINIA was beached in Bangladesh in February 2019. According to shipping media, it was owned and managed by Andreas Hadjiyiannis’ Greek company Cyprus Sea Lines. The vessel was hit by a Tunisian ferry when it was anchored off Corsica in October 2018. The collision breached the CSL VIRGINIA’s fuel tanks causing a significant oil spill that affected especially the French Mediterranean coast and required a vast clean-up operation. Before setting sail for the Chattogram beach, the vessel was allowed to leave French territorial waters, escorted by the French coast guard, upon claims that it would be repaired in Constanța, Romania. Instead, it spent a few weeks in a Turkish shipyard - there it was renamed VIRGIN STAR and changed registry from the flag of Cyprus to the flag of Liberia. It passed the Suez Canal on 25 December 2018, just days before the entry-into-force of the EU Ship Recycling Regulation.

 

An image of the VIRGIN STAR (first ship from the left) after its arrival in Chattogram - © NGO Shipbreaking Platform

 

NOTES

 

[1] Nasir Uddin (30 years old), Md Sharif (30 years old), Ramdoyal (40 years old), Bimol (25 years old), Dononjoy Tripura (25 years old), Suron Tripura (22 years old), Anik Tripura (20 years old), Srabon (23 years old), Sonjoy (25 years old), Rahi Tripura (22 years old), Jagdish (25 years old), Roton (30 years old), Faruque (35 years old). 

 

[2] On 25 July 2013, Muhammed Selim was severely injured when a heavy iron piece hit and broke his back while working at the yard. The Platform informed the concerned authorities and arranged a meeting between Selim’s wife, accompanied by some of the victim’s fellow workers, and the yard’s management. However, Ziri’s owner did not assist Selim in receiving the necessary treatment for his serious injuries. Selim was brought to his native home in Noakhali, in the Chattogram district, and on 10 November 2014, he died from the injuries he suffered. It was only once the Platform informed Ziri that it would take the matter to the labour court that the yard agreed to pay compensation. Selim’s wife finally received 100.000 Taka (approx. 1000 EUR) on 15 March 2015. 

 

Press Release – Worker dies at Kabir Steel’s shipbreaking yard in Bangladesh

Yesterday, cutter man Shahidul lost his life while working at Kabir Steel’s Khawja shipbreaking yard in Chattogram (f.k.a. Chittagong), Bangladesh. According to local sources, Shahidul was cutting the container ship EVER UNION (IMO 9116618) when he fell from a great height. He died on the spot.

 

Kabir Steel’s shipbreaking yards are part of the large industrial conglomerate of Kabir Group of Industries. The NGO Shipbreaking Platform has documented several severe and fatal accidents in the company's yards over the last years. In 2017 and 2018 alone, at least four workers were killed. In 2016, Kabir Steel’s private security personnel fired shots and injured seven people who were protesting following the death of shipbreaking worker Sumon.

Entrance gate to one of the Kabir Steel's shipbreaking yards - © NGO Shipbreaking Platform 2019

The vessel EVER UNION was beached in Bangladesh on April 19. It was owned by Taiwanese shipping giant Evergreen Marine, which has been under the spotlight for its irresponsible shipbreaking practices. In January 2018, Norwegian Central Bank announced its decision to exclude Evergreen from the Government Pension Fund Global, due to the ship owner poor management of its end-of-life ships and the sale of these for dirty and dangerous breaking on the infamous beach of Chattogram. Since then, the company has clearly not changed its policy. Five vessels, including the EVER UNION, ended up in Bangladesh this year. Three of them were allegedly sold to shipbreaking yards owned by Kabir Steel.

 

The EVER UNION was sold for scrapping for more than $10 million. Before reaching the shore, the ship was renamed VERA and changed registry to the Paris MoU black-listed flag of Palau. According to maritime databases, the company Nabeel Ship Management, based in the United Arab Emirates, is linked to the end-of-life sale. Nabeel has been recently involved in the attempted illegal export of the vessel HARRIER from Norway, where police investigations, now headed by the financial crimes division, are still ongoing.

 

Despite activities being slow due to the monsoon rains, accidents keep occurring. According to Platform’s member organisation YPSA, another worker lost his life in Chattogram in the beginning of July. Md Mamun Hossen, 35 years old, died at Tahsin Steel Corporation yard. 

"Twenty workers lost their lives in 2018. The number of deaths was the highest in last eight years. These two recent accidents bring the total death-toll of the shipbreaking industry this year to at least ten workers. Clearly, no lesson has been learned. Accidents keep happening, indicating a complete lack of intention from yard owners to ensure workers’ safety"
Muhammed Ali Shahin - Project Coordinator - YPSA

Platform publishes South Asia Quarterly Update #19

There were a total of 193 ships broken in the second quarter of 2019. Of these, 146 ships were sold to the infamous scrapping beaches of South Asia, where working conditions are known to be dire and breaking practices cause irreparable damage to the coastal environment [1]. Between April and June, Platform sources recorded three accidents that killed at least five workers on the beach of Chittagong, Bangladesh, bringing the total death-toll of the shipbreaking industry this year to at least eight workers. 

 

 

In the early morning of 15 May, a loud blast shook the Chittagong shipbreaking area. A fire broke out on board the vessel BUNGA KELANA 4 (IMO 9178343), beached at Mahinur Ship Breaking yard, also known as Premium Trade Corporation. Video footage of the attempts to rescue workers showed extremely rudimentary conditions and a total lack of appropriate emergency response and equipment. Cutter men Mohammod Rubel, Hamidul Islam and Md Jolil lost their lives in the accident. Four other workers suffered severe burn injuries. Platform member organisation OSHE reports that the death of another worker, Tara Miya, was covered up in the same yard just a few days before the tragic event. On 20 May, Md Manik died when electrocuted at Bathiari Steel. He had been tasked with the illegal construction of barge. 

 

At least another six workers were severely injured at the Bangladeshi shipbreaking yards last quarter. Two were injured when a fire broke out on the bulk carrier COMPROMISE (IMO 9044475) on 28 May. According to maritime databases and local sources, the ship was sold by South Korean SK Shipping to HM Steel shipbreaking yard in Chittagong. 

 

Accident records in Gadani, Pakistan and Alang, India, are extremely difficult to obtain. The local government in Alang does not publish any official statistics, and it systematically refuses to provide civil society organisations and independent journalists access to the yards. Recently stopped by the Gujarat Maritime Board, journalists from French public television were forced to hand over their camera so their footage could be deleted. Part of their video material, however, managed to see the light of day and was aired in June. It effectively reveals the poor working and environmental conditions that the local authorities in Alang seek to hide.

 

In Bangladesh, it was revealed that the shipbreaking company BBC Ship Breaking had been fraudulently given the permission by local authorities to wipe out a protected mangrove forest in order to establish a new yard. Following the filing of a complaint by Platform member organisation BELA, the High Court imposed a six months’ stay on the lease contract and have asked the local authorities to explain why they blatantly ignore national forest protection laws. In 2009, 14.000 mangrove trees were illegally cut to expand the dirty and dangerous shipbreaking activities in Chittagong. Despite a clear order by the High Court in 2010, none of these trees have been replanted.

 

Poor enforcement of national and international environmental and labour laws causes irreparable damage to the environment, workers and local communities. As yards can avoid costs linked to proper environmental protection and the respect of labour rights, their lower operational costs render them a financially more profitable end-of-life destination for ship owners. In the second quarter of 2019, Japanese, Saudi Arabian and Greek ship owners sold the most ships to South Asian yards, followed by Indonesian and South Korean owners. 

 

All ships sold to the Chittagong, Alang and Gadani yards pass via the hands of scrap-dealers, also known as cash buyers, that most often re-register and re-flag the vessels on their final voyage. Grey- and black-listed flags of convenience are particularly popular with cash buyers, and more than half of the ships sold to South Asia this quarter changed flag to the registries of Comoros, Niue, 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 grey- and black-listed due to their poor implementation of international maritime law. 

 

The high number of flag changes should induce serious concerns with regards to the effectiveness of legislation based on flag state jurisdiction only, such as the EU Ship Recycling Regulation which became applicable on 1 January 2019. According to the Regulation, EU-flagged vessels have to be recycled in one of the 34 approved facilities included in the EU list. The Platform recorded at least two ships that de-registered from an European flag registry prior the last voyage to South Asia in order to circumvent the legislation. Both the Maltese-flagged ALPHA MILLENIUM and the Greek-flagged MARVELLOUS, which maritime sources link to Greek shipping company Alpha Bulkers, swapped their flags to Comoros prior reaching the beach of Chittagong, Bangladesh. 

 

The Platform has found that at least five other vessels [2], owned by Danish Maersk, Greek Chartworld Group, Greek Costamare and Norwegian KGJS (Kristian Gerhard Jebsen Skipsrederi), called at EU ports before starting their final voyage towards the shipbreaking beaches. It is likely that the decisions to export the assets for scrap were taken by these companies while on EU waters, in direct breach of the EU Waste Shipment Regulation. Clearly, more efforts are needed to ensure proper enforcement of current legislation on ship recycling as highest profit seems to be the only decisive factor most ship owners take into account when selling their vessels for breaking. 

 

 

NOTES

 

[1] During the second quarter of 2019, the following number of vessels were broken in other locations: 27 in Turkey, 5 in China, 3 in Europe and 12 in the rest of the world.

 

[2] CLAES MAERSK (IMO 9064396), CHILEAN REEFER (IMO 8917546), ELAFONISOS (IMO 9179816), SKS TIETE (IMO 9172650), SKS TANARO (IMO 9172662).