Press Release – Union Bay residents still fighting against hazardous shipbreaking

Three years after initial protests and warnings, the infamous shipbreaking company Deep Water Recovery Ltd (DWR) persists in scrapping vessels at Union Bay, Canada, in blatant violation of international and national rules and standards.

 

Despite multiple violations flagged by local authorities, DWR is dismantling the asbestos-laden NOAAS Miller Freeman and NOAAS Surveyor at Baynes Sound. Local residents, who have strongly and repeatedly opposed these hazardous operations, are now again urging government officials to intervene and protect the health of local communities and the marine environment.

 

In light of the documented environmental contamination and the ongoing disregard for basic safety practices at the workplace, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform fully supports the call for the immediate shutdown of the shipbreaking site in Union Bay and the initiation of a comprehensive site remediation.

 

Recent photo of DWR site

Press Release – Platform publishes list of ships dismantled worldwide in 2023

Shipping industry's disgrace: 85 percent of global tonnage scrapped on three beaches in South Asia

 

 

According to new data released today by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, 446 ocean-going commercial ships and offshore units were scrapped in 2023. The vast majority, 325 ships in total, were taken apart on a beach in Bangladesh, India or Pakistan. Most vessels scrapped originally belonged to shipping companies in East Asia and Europe.

"There is no possibility to take apart a ship on a beach in a way that is environmentally sustainable and safe for workers. Shipping companies are dodging their responsibility to make sure their toxic waste does not harm workers’ health and sensitive coastal environments."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

In South Asia, workers are exposed to explosions, falling steel plates and toxic fumes and substances that can be found within the ships’ structures. Toxic waste leaks into the ocean and affects marine life, while also making its way into ground water and agricultural fields. The air is polluted far beyond internationally accepted levels, also as a result of the low-cost method used in the region to re-roll contaminated ship scrap steel.

 

In 2023, at least 6 workers lost their lives when breaking apart vessels on the beach of Chattogram, Bangladesh, and another 19 were severely injured. Some of these accidents took place onboard vessels owned by well-known shipping companies, such as South Korean Sinokor and Greek Polys Haji-Ioannou Group. 

"It is expected that many accidents go unreported due to lack of transparency. There is furthermore no official monitoring and recording of occupational diseases, including cancer, of which many more workers suffer."
Sara Costa - Project Officer - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

DUMPERS 2023 – Worst practices

 

China tops the list of country dumper in 2023. Despite the existence of state-of-the-art ship recycling facilities at national level, Chinese owners sold 71 vessels for scrapping in South Asia, 59 of which were beached in Bangladesh. While China has banned  the import of waste as part of its efforts to clean its own environment and improve the quality of life of its citizens, the Chinese shipping industry is getting away with dumping its toxic waste on some of the most vulnerable communities and environments in the world. 

 

Hong Kong, UAE, Thailand, Greece, Russia and South Korea follow as worst dumpers in 2023 with more than a dozen ships beached each.

 

Swiss containership giant Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) is the 2023 worst corporate dumper. Despite having been repeatedly and strongly criticised for its dumping of more than one hundred ships in the last decade, MSC scrapped no less than 14 of its old container ships in Alang, India, in 2023. The MSC FLORIANA and MSC GIOVANNA respectively left from Spanish and Turkish waters for scrap in clear breach of European and international law that bans the export of hazardous waste from OECD to non-OECD countries. Illegal exports of end-of-life ships is a criminal offence. 

"It is beyond shameful for a company that makes billions of yearly profit to knowingly persist exploiting workers while turning a blind eye to the environmental degradation caused by beaching. Ironically, MSC recently committed to prevent known illegal exporters of waste use their ships to facilitate illegal waste trade. We call on MSC to make the same commitment with regards to their own toxic waste."
Nicola Mulinaris - Senior Communication and Policy Advisor - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Evergreen, Gearbulk, Green Reefers, Maersk, Sinokor and Zodiac Group Monaco are other well-known companies that sold their toxic assets for scrapping on South Asian beaches in 2023.


Conditions at the ship recycling yards in Aliaga, Turkey, have also come under the spotlight in a new report. Pollution and poor occupational health and safety conditions occur at all stages of the ship recycling process, including the management of waste water and disposal of the hazardous materials originating from ships. Recent audits and unannounced inspections of the facilities by the European Commission furthermore revealed that actual day-to-day practices do not comply with the standard required for EU approval. 

"While regulatory gaps need to be closed in Turkey to ensure proper permitting and monitoring of the sector, the European Union can play an important role by sustaining unannounced inspections and reviewing their standard for ship recycling to include clear requirements for waste management and the use of safer and cleaner technologies, such as cold cutting and dry docks."
Ekin Sakin - Policy Officer - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Environmental and labour laws that regulate ship recycling exist, but they are ignored and easily circumvented by ship owners. In a report on the conditions at the shipbreaking yards in Bangladesh, it is revealed how middle men scrap dealers, known as cash buyers, re-name, re-register and re-flag end-of-life ships prior to their last voyage to the beaching yards in an attempt to conceal original ownership. Almost half of the ships beached in 2023 changed their original flag to a grey- or black-listed flag registry just weeks before hitting the beach. The flags of Cameroon, Comoros, Mongolia, Palau, St Kitts & Nevis and Tanzania were particularly popular with cash buyers. At least two of these flag changes enabled Greek companies Danaos Shipping and Ilios Shipping to circumvent the EU Ship Recycling Regulation which requires EU flagged vessels to only be dismantled in EU approved ship recycling facilities. 

"The EU shipping sector is not being held accountable for safe and environmentally sound ship recycling. The number of ships with an EU flag at end-of-life is dwarfed by the amount of European tonnage beached in South Asia, and begs for the extension of the scope of the EU Ship Recycling Regulation to include ownership, not only flag."
Benedetta Mantoan - Policy Officer - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Looking ahead, the number of ships that will need to be dismantled is expected to surge. At the same time, the growing focus on circularity and demand for low-carbon scrap steel provides opportunities to transform the ship recycling sector. EU legislation on ship recycling will be reviewed, providing an opportunity to close existing loopholes and enhance corporate accountability.

"We applaud the forward-looking governments and companies that are developing laws, policies and technologies to encourage the expansion of sustainable ship recycling capacity. The new regulation issued by the UAE Government and the new policy adopted by Brazilian Petrobras considerably raise the bar for ship recycling, and showcase that it is possible for both governments and companies to say no to beaching."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Read more about the pioneers of green ship recycling in our Breaking Out magazine.

 

 

For the data visualization of 2023 shipbreaking records, click here. *

For the full Excel dataset of all ships dismantled worldwide in 2023, 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 1 February - Two ships, which were scrapped in the Netherlands, were excluded from the dataset because their actual gross tonnage (GT) fell below 500.

*** UPDATE 2 February - The Platform was made aware by Polaris Shipping that it had wrongly attributed the accidents in Bangladesh to vessels owned by Polaris. Three accidents took place on vessels owned by South Korean Sinokor, not Polaris, and the text has now been rectified. Polaris has not sold any vessel for scrapping since the second quarter of 2021.

Press Release – Two workers killed at Gadani shipbreaking yards

NGOs join trade unions in calling for enforcement of occupational health and safety standards

 

On January 16 2024, two workers, Qasim and Mustafa, lost their lives crushed by a heavy iron plate during the dismantling of bulk carrier CHATHERINE BRIGHT (IMO 9186924) at Dewan Shipbreaking PVT Ldt in Gadani, Pakistan. The vessel was linked to Oman-based Maritime International Transport & Trading and flagged Panama when it was beached.
 
The National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) accuses authorities of negligence as there continues to be a lack of compliance with occupational health and safety standards in the shipbreaking sector. According to the NTUF, the absence of safety measures at the Gadani beaching yards forces workers to carry out their duties under extremely dangerous conditions, which knowingly puts their lives at risk.
 
The NTUF has long raised concerns that various government agencies, including the police, let the sector operate with impunity, and calls for a full investigation of the accident that killed Qasim and Mustafa. There are claims that their bodies were clandestinely buried at night without any post-mortem examination, indicating an attempt to conceal the cause of death and protect the contractor and yard owner from liability.
 
Despite having identified serious deficiencies at the yards following the catastrophic blast that killed more than 30 workers on the spot in 2016, Pakistani authorities have failed to impose necessary measures to safeguard sustainable ship recycling practices. The killing of Qasim and Mustafa adds to a growing number of deaths that could have been avoided in Gadani, where fifteen vessels have been beached in the past year. Four of these ships were owned by Greek companies.

"For over two decades, we've persistently urged South Asian authorities to relocate the shipbreaking industry to designated areas with better facilities, ensuring worker safety and preventing pollution. Ignoring this urgent need risks more tragic loss of life. It's time authorities recognise that the profits gained by yard owners and shipping companies are made at the expenses of both humans and coastal environments."
Sara Rita da Costa - Project Officer - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Press Release – Ship owner and two directors fined by Dutch Court for breaching EU waste law

Last week, a judgment was handed down by a Rotterdam Court in the Netherlands, convicting the Dutch shipping company Jumbo and two of its directors for their involvement in the illegal export of an end-of-life ship to Turkey for recycling. 

 

The verdict was issued for the breach of the notification procedures under the European Waste Shipment Regulation. The court imposed a fine of 25.000 euros on ship owner Jumbo, while the directors were individually fined 2.500 euros. The Public Prosecution Service had initially sought community service for the directors and a fine of 100.000 euros for the company.

 

The ruling addressed the sale of two end-of-life ships in 2014 and 2015. In both instances, Jumbo had failed to submit the notification documents that guarantee the informed consent for the cross-border movement of end-of-life vessels, which are considered hazardous waste under EU and international law. However, in one of the cases, the defendants were acquitted as the ship was found to be situated outside EU waters at the time of the decision to sell the it for scrap.

"We applaud Dutch authorities for their continued efforts to crack down on the illegal trafficking of toxic ships. This particular case, however, sadly showcases how easily ship owners can avoid being held accountable by simply moving the vessel outside EU waters prior to selling for scrap. Where the ship is located should thus not be the only factor relevant to determine jurisdiction. Indeed, vessels are intended to move internationally, and in the Jumbo case the decision to scrap was taken by a company domiciled in the Netherlands, with headquarters in Schiedam."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

In the last eight years, several ship owners and individuals have been held liable by Dutch courts for breaching international and European waste laws. More cases are under criminal investigation in other EU Member States, including Germany, where more than 100 police officers raided the offices of renowned Hamburg-based shipping companies in 2021. Last year, the Norwegian Supreme Court confirmed  the sentencing of six months to prison for a ship owner that had attempted to scrap a vessel in Pakistan. Yet, the majority of European shipping companies that keep scrapping old tonnage at substandard shipbreaking yards are still treated with impunity as they take advantage of loopholes in existing laws.

"The NGO Shipbreaking Platform is calling for a review of the EU law applicable to end-of-life vessels that will effectively ensure that ship owners are held accountable in their own jurisdictions. Dirty and dangerous shipbreaking is a serious environmental crime and enforcement authorities must be given the means to effectively stop illicit practices of EU-domiciled companies."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Press Release – NGOs call on the Netherlands to push for the safe and environmentally sound recycling of FSO Safer

As the operations for the removal of the oil on-board the decaying Floating Storage and Offloading (FSO) vessel SAFER are taking place off the coast of Yemen, the UNDP is looking for a destination for the FSO’s recycling. NGOs have urged the UNDP to find a solution that effectively addresses the inherent risks associated with the dismantling process and the management of the hazardous materials that will remain on-board. Now, they are calling on the Dutch government, one of the biggest donors to the Stop Red Sea Oil Pollution operation, to follow suit and assist UNDP in identifying a suitable recycling facility.  

 

The Netherlands has shown leadership in preventing the environmental disaster an oil spill from the FSO Safer would have caused, with also Dutch company Boskalis, via its subsidiary SMIT Salvage, tasked with the removal of the oil from the FSO. Referring to Dutch involvement in the Stop Red Sea Oil Pollution operation, Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Liesje Schreinemacher, announced that “The Netherlands will continue helping the UN to bring this to a good end.” 

"A good end entails ensuring that the FSO SAFER is recycled at a facility that fully respects labour rights, operates from a dry-dock or features on the European List of approved ship recycling facilities. The Dutch government is a pioneer in environmentally friendly technologies implementing sound life-cycle practices, and Boskalis has been at the forefront as one of the first ship owners in the world to adopt an ‘off the beach’ ship recycling policy. This should guide the so far successful Stop Red Sea Oil Pollution operation’s final and equally crucial stage."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Shipping broker Clarkson, on behalf of the UNDP, has already received bids for the towing and scrapping of the vessel. The NGOs have urged UNDP to comply with international waste law and opt for a final destination that can guarantee practices beyond the weak standards set by the International Maritime Organisation’s Hong Kong Convention [1], and are aware that alternative and more sustainable solutions off the beach are at the UNDP’s disposal.

 

NOTES
 

[1] Several yards located on the beaches in India and Bangladesh and major cash buyers, which regularly sell end-of-life vessels for dirty and dangerous shipbreaking, have shown interest in scrapping the FSO SAFER. Facilities that practice the beaching method have a documented lack of capacity to ensure the environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes and are therefore likely to offer the highest price for the asset, leaving workers, local communities and the environment to pay the price of toxic exposure.

Press Release – Human rights and environmental NGOs urge UNDP to ensure the clean and safe recycling of FSO Safer

In a letter addressed to the UNDP, the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), the Basel Action Network (BAN), and the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, representing a global coalition of human rights and environmental organisations, call for the recycling of the Floating Storage and Offloading (FSO) vessel SAFER in accordance with international law and UNDP's own ethical and sustainability policies.

 

The NGOs warn against the possibility of the FSO being scrapped at one of the notorious South Asian shipbreaking yards known for their poor working conditions and the irreversible harm their operations cause to public health and fragile ecosystems.

"Now that a successful operation has commenced for removing oil from the FSO SAFER [1], it is essential that the UNDP addresses the inherent risks associated with the cleaning of the vessel’s tanks and its scrapping. We urge the UNDP to exercise due diligence when selecting the final recycling destination."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

The FSO SAFER likely contains significant amounts of toxic substances and materials, including asbestos, mercury-contaminated oil residues and heavy metal-laden paints, that may cause damage to human health and the environment.

 

The UNDP must ensure compliance with the UN Basel Convention, which regulates the transboundary movement and disposal of hazardous wastes, and that the recycling of the FSO SAFER is carried out in a facility that respects international labour rights; guarantees full containment of pollutants via a dry-dock or equivalent infrastructure; and is capable of managing all hazardous materials onboard and embedded within the FSO’s structure in a safe and environmentally sound manner. In view of the vessel’s dire condition, precautions must furthermore be taken to avoid that the contaminated structure sinks during its transport to the recycling yard.

"The UNDP cannot allow its Stop Red Sea Oil Spill operation end with the FSO SAFER putting workers, local communities and the environment in South Asia at risk. The shipbreaking beaches in South Asia are already some of the most polluted beaches in the world. Alternatives exist [2], and the UNDP must opt a facility that operates in accordance with industry best practice and uses environmentally friendly technologies implementing sound life-cycle practices."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

NOTES
 

[1] The FSO SAFER, carrying approximately 1.1 million barrels of crude oil, has been laid-up since 2015 due to the conflict in Yemen. Its deteriorating condition poses a severe risk of the vessel breaking and causing a massive oil spill to the Red Sea which would represent an ecological and humanitarian disaster. In response to this imminent threat, the United Nations have prompted collaborative efforts to cover the costs related to the removal of the oil onboard and preparation of the vessel for recycling. Donors, private companies and members of the public have so far contributed $100 million toward the UN plan to prevent the spill, and Dutch company Boskalis, via its subsidiary SMIT Salvage, has now been tasked with the removal of the oil from the FSO. Simultaneously, shipping broker Clarkson, on behalf of UNDP, is currently accepting bids for the towing and scrapping of the vessel.

 

[2] See the recent publication Breaking Out: Anchoring Circular Innovation for Ship Recycling by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform.

 

Press Release – Local residents rally against shipbreaking operation in Union Bay, British Columbia

Local residents marched last Sunday at Union Bay, traditional unceded territory of First Nations within Baynes Sound, British Columbia, Canada, to protest against the dirty and dangerous scrapping operations carried out in the area by Deep Water Recovery Ltd (DWR). More than a hundred of people, including actress and activist Sarah Wayne Callies and MP Gord Johns, gathered at the Union Bay Community Hall demanding, once again, urgent action from federal, provincial and regional authorities.

 

First Nations, national NGOs and international groups, alongside local residents, have been opposing for more than two years the shipbreaking activities of DWR, which has been caught acting in contravention of laws several times, but has not yet been punished for it.

 

In 2022, the Comox Valley Regional District sought an injunction against DWR, accusing the company of violating regional bylaws. DWR has also been found to be out of compliance four times under British Columbia’s Environmental Management Act and Hazardous Waste Regulations. In fact, testing conducted at the site recently revealed concentrations of copper, lead, zync and cadmium above permitted levels. Still, operations at DWR continue, with the former US government-owned vessel NOAAS Miller Freeman (R 223) being slowly pulled ashore. Given its age and type, the NOAAS Miller Freeman is likely to contain high amounts of hazardous substances in its structures, such as toxic paints and asbestos. A petroleum spill already occurred on November 2022 as the vessel was being dragged onto the beach.

"Allowing in the first place the setting up of such a hazardous operation adjacent to a residential area and in an ecologically sensitive zone is unacceptable. The inability of competent authorities to prioritise public and environmental health in spite of the blatant disregard of international and national rules and standards at the shipbreaking plot is even more worrying. The NGO Shipbreaking Platform shows its full support to the local community of Baynes Sound and calls, once more, upon competent bodies to halt immediately all scrapping activities conducted by the operator."
Nicola Mulinaris - Senior Communication and Policy Advisor - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Press Release – Brazil deliberately sinks its toxic aircraft carrier 
in the Atlantic Ocean


Violation of three environmental treaties called absolutely unnecessary by NGOs

 

Last night, the Brazilian Navy, after months of refusing to allow its old aircraft carrier SÃO PAULO to safely return to a Naval base, detonated explosives placed on the vessel’s massive hull to send it to the bottom of the sea, claiming it was a danger to the Brazilian coastline due to its structural condition. 
 

With the sinking of the ship went also several million dollars worth of recyclable steel and other metals, an estimated 760 tonnes of hazardous asbestos, more than 300 tonnes of material contaminated with highly toxic PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and additional tonnage of heavy metal-laden paint, all of which will no doubt contaminate the marine ecosystem in the dumpsite area for years to come. Environmentalists who had been working to facilitate the legal and safe recycling of the vessel are horrified by the decision. 

"We are in shock because we have been asking the Brazilian Navy to simply return the ship to a naval base for months, to get a proper survey of the hazardous materials on board. Now it's become clear that they would rather contaminate the environment and lose millions of dollars to avoid allowing further scrutiny of the true contents of the ship. The sinking was completely unnecessary."
Jim Puckett - Director - Basel Action Network (BAN)

The NGOs consider the deliberate dumping an environmental tragedy as the heavy metals and the PCBs will continue to leach into the marine environment in the foreseeable future. The sister ship of the SÃO PAULO, the CLEMENCEAU, was found to contain several hundred tonnes of PCB-contaminated material on board when it was recycled in the UK years ago. PCBs are extremely toxic and persistent chemicals that have been banned for many years due to their propensity to cause harm to wildlife and contaminate the food chain after being ingested by fish and other marine animals.

 

It was 2022 when the NGO Shipbreaking Platform noticed numerous discrepancies and irregularities regarding the amounts of hazardous materials onboard in the paperwork prepared before the export of the SÃO PAULO to a recycling yard in Turkey. Brazilian authorities refused to make any corrections and, instead, released the vessel in August. As the ship was almost ready to enter the Mediterranean Sea, the Turkish government, however, agreed with the environmentalists and withdrew its consent to receive it until a more thorough assessment of the hazards onboard could be independently conducted. At that point, as per the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, Brazil recalled the ship presumably for safe management. Yet, when the SÃO PAULO returned, rather than being directed back to the Rio de Janeiro base from where it had departed, the Navy refused to allow it to dock there or at any other Naval base. Months passed with other states and commercial ports likewise refusing entry, as the owner begged for relief after towing the ship at sea for 3 months, burning fuel and money. On January 13, a survey was suddenly conducted showing water leaking into the vessel. The ship was given about 4 more weeks by the salvage master before it might no longer be safe to move it. Once again, the Navy refused to bring it to the dock for repair. Instead, on January 20, the Navy suddenly forced the convoy 200 miles further off-shore, announcing soon after the intention to sink the vessel. An attempt to obtain an injunction against the sinking failed. Now the SÃO PAULO has been sunk, still without explanation as to why the Navy never brought its old ship to base -- the obvious legal and logical solution.

 

What the Navy has done violated three international environmental treaties. First, failure to bring a ship returned from an aborted transboundary movement of waste back into the territory of the exporting State for safe management is a violation of the Basel Convention. Second, disposing of PCBs in the sea is a violation of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. Third, dumping ships at sea without first cleaning them of toxic substances is a violation of the London Convention and Protocol.

"What happened last night will go down in history as the single most blatant violation of chemicals and waste treaties ever to take place at the hands of a country. An independent inquiry as to why this took place must be undertaken to ensure that such a thing never happens again."
Nicola Mulinaris - Senior Communication and Policy Advisor - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Press Release – Platform publishes list of ships dismantled worldwide in 2022

Shipbreaking on the beaches of South Asia continues to cause serious harm to workers and the environment despite plunge in number of ships scrapped

 

According to new data released today by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, 443 ocean-going commercial ships and offshore units were sold for scrapping in 2022. Of these, 292 large tankers, bulkers, floating platforms, cargo- and passenger ships ended up for dirty and dangerous breaking on tidal beaches in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.

 

Whilst the South Asian shipbreaking yards experienced the lowest turnover in over a decade, with a significant drop in terms of the number of ships scrapped, they remained the preferred destination for end-of-life vessels, dismantling 80% of the global end-of-life gross tonnage. The reasons for the plunge in the number of vessels scrapped in 2022 are multiple, with high ocean freight rates that made it profitable to continue operating older vessels and banks’ shortages in providing credits to companies for the purchase of end-of-life assets identified as the main drivers.

"Companies have a duty to eliminate the negative impacts that their commercial decisions have on the environment and people. End-of-life vessels are hazardous waste, and taking them apart on tidal beaches is by far the worst industrial practice."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

In South Asia, workers – often exploited migrants – 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 2022, at least 10 workers lost their lives and 33 workers suffered injuries when breaking apart vessels on the beach of Chattogram, Bangladesh. Local sources also reported three deaths in Alang, India, and three injuries in Gadani, Pakistan. Some of these accidents took place onboard vessels owned by well-known shipping companies, such as Berge Bulk, Sinokor and Winson Oil.


DUMPERS 2022 – Worst practices

 

The 2022 worst country dumper was China. Chinese owners sold 28 ships for scrapping in South Asia, most of which were beached in Bangladesh. Russia, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and Greece follow with more than a dozen ships beached each.

 

Major dry bulk carrier Berge Bulk, which has figured amongst the worst corporate dumpers several years in a row, reached the top in 2022. The company scrapped four carriers in Bangladesh and India, reaching a total of 24 vessels beached in the last ten years. Berge Bulk’s scrapping practices stand in evident contrast with the company’s declared commitment to sustainability and safety. According to local sources, three separate accidents, causing injuries to three workers, occurred during the cutting of the BERGE KANGCHENJUNGA at Ferdous Steel yard in Bangladesh. On 3 March, Amirul broke his leg after a fall. On 27 April, an iron piece suddenly hit Sedan Das on his spine. On 2 August, Motin suffered burn injuries due to a fire. Shipping sources link cash buyer GMS to the sale of the BERGE KANGCHENJUNGA, re-named JENGA prior beaching.

 

Brazilian state-owned company Petrobras comes second for worst corporate practice. More than five years have passed since civil society organisations and trade unions urged the Brazilian government to stop the dumping of toxic end-of-life ships in the Global South. Yet, oil giant Petrobras sold another four of its old tankers and two of its old floating platforms for dismantling on South Asian beaches last year, reaching a total of 34 vessels beached in the last decade. The units were auctioned off to scrap dealers. According to shipping sources, at least three of the units were sold to cash buyer Best Oasis.

"In order to ensure clean and safe ship recycling off the beach, it is time for Brazil to introduce stricter requirements for the public auctions of end-of-life vessels and offshore units, and to properly enforce international legislation on hazardous waste exports. This continuous toxic dumping perpetrated by Petrobras and the scandal of the former aircraft carrier SÃO PAULO should have already served as a wake-up call."
Nicola Mulinaris - Senior Communication and Policy Advisor - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

BW Offshore is another well-known company that dumped its toxic units on the beach last year. On 21 April, a worker lost his life at the Indian yard Priya Blue Industries, where BW Offshore’s Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) CIDADE DE SÃO VICENTE was being cut. Assisted by Arctic Shipbrokers, Grieg Green and cash buyer Best Oasis, the deal was branded as a green sale.

 

Back in January 2019, Norwegian pension fund KLP had blacklisted Nordic American Tankers (NAT), a Bermuda-registered company controlled from Norway by Herbjørn Hanson, following the sale of several tankers for dirty and dangerous scrapping at South Asian beaching yards. Yet, NAT seems not to have improved its policy since, with two additional NAT vessels ending up on the beaches of India and Pakistan last year.


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. More than half of the ships sold to South Asia in 2022 changed flag to one of the grey- and black-listed flags of Cameroon, Comoros, Palau, St Kitts & Nevis and Tanzania, often just weeks before hitting the beach. At least eight of these flag changes enabled ship owners to circumvent the EU Ship Recycling Regulation. Seven of these units, including one owned by Italian Finbeta SpA, ended up on a beach instead of being recycled in an EU-approved facility as the Regulation requires.

"Existing laws are way too easy for ship owners to circumvent. The decisions to scrap are taken in offices in Hamburg, Athens, Antwerp, Copenhagen and other shipping hubs. This reality begs for the introduction and enforcement of measures that effectively hold the real beneficial owners of the vessels responsible in their own jurisdictions, regardless of the flags used and ports of departure for scrapping."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

In 2022, a total of 49 ships were dismantled in Aliağa, Turkey, a site where currently six EU-approved ship recycling yards are located. Civil society organisations have raised concerns over the ship recycling operations in the region and massively mobilised over the summer to stop the import of the toxic-laden aircraft carrier SÃO PAULO. They flag serious breaches of national laws related to environmental permits, pollution, occupational health and safety and waste management in the sector. Two facilities, Şimşekler and Işıksan, were removed from the EU List in 2022 due to their failure to comply with the requirements set in the EU Ship Recycling Regulation. Furthermore, recently published audit reports of two other yards reveal several problems.

"Now, given the awareness of the violations, our focus will be on enhancing and strengthening environmental standards and occupational health and safety practices so that the ship recycling sector fully respects workers, local communities and the environment."
Asli Odman - Academic and Volunteer - Istanbul Health and Safety Labour Watch

Dangerous and dirty practices are affecting also countries that rarely make ship recycling headlines. In Canada, the illegal breaking of barges and asbestos-laden vessels is negatively affecting the local residents and the indigenous people of Baynes Sound. On the opposite side of the Atlantic, the demolition of dozens of toxic ships is polluting the shores of Ghana.

"We urge Canadian and Ghanaian authorities to halt immediately these substandard practices, and take example from the existing EU legislation on ship recycling when developing new sets of national rules."
Nicola Mulinaris - Senior Communication and Policy Advisor - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Looking ahead, the number of ships that will need to be dismantled is expected to surge. At the same time, the growing focus on circularity and the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions provide opportunities to transform the ship recycling sector. Already, forward-looking governments are developing policies to increase access to scrap steel for green steel production, coupling that with measures to encourage the development of sustainable ship recycling capacity. For instance, the United Arab Emirates have adopted a “no-beaching” rule and aim to attract vessels for dismantling in dry docks. The European Union’s Green Deal is, on its side, pushing major steel companies to explore ways of integrating ship recycling in their production line.

"A just transition in the ship recycling sector is possible. Clean and safe solutions are already available, and innovations ranging from robotics to water-jet cutting technologies will not only ensure safer practices but also render sustainable ship recycling more cost-effective. We call upon ship owners, especially the large containership companies that will have many vessels to scrap in 2023, to support the shift away from the beaching yards."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Read more about the pioneers of green ship recycling in our Breaking Out magazine.

 

 

For the data visualization of 2022 shipbreaking records, click here. *

For the full Excel dataset of all ships dismantled worldwide in 2022, 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.

 

Press Release – Brazil set to violate three international environmental treaties in sinking PCB-laden aircraft carrier in the Atlantic

Environmentalists denounce Brazilian Navy for 'criminal negligence'

 

As feared by the coalition of environmental and labour rights NGOs following the fate of the former aircraft carrier SÃO PAULO, the Brazilian Navy has seized the massive 265-meter-long ship and announced the intention to sink it in the Atlantic, instead of allowing it to be recycled as initially planned just a few months ago when it was sold to a Turkish breaking yard.  The announcement that the vessel is to be sunk comes after the ship was sent back to Brazil in accordance with the terms of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal by the Turkish government, which in August 2022 withdrew its consent to import the vessel for recycling due to a series of illegalities. Once the ship returned to Brazil, the Brazilian Navy, however, inexplicably refused to allow it to dock safely in a Naval base. This refusal forced the owners of the vessel to tow it in circles off the coast of the Brazilian State of Pernambuco for three months seeking permission to berth it.

 

According to the NGOs, the Navy breached Basel rules by refusing to allow the vessel to safely dock in Brazil and now, with its move to sink the ship into the ocean, is likewise set to violate the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter’s London Protocol 1996, as well as the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). The civil society coalition also expressed serious doubts that the ship is in danger of foundering and causing damage to the Brazilian coast, as claimed by the Navy. No evidence has been produced or published on government websites that there is any concern with respect to the hull except for the need for minor repairs.

"Based on the evidence at hand, the Brazilian Navy should be condemned for gross negligence. If they proceed with dumping the very toxic vessel into the wilderness of the Atlantic Ocean, they will violate the terms of three international environmental treaties and do so for no good reason. We call on President Lula as the commander-in-chief to immediately halt the dangerous sinking plan."
Jim Puckett - Director - Basel Action Network (BAN)

While the environmental harm from dumping the many tons of asbestos on board the ship in the marine environment is unknown, based on the estimates of the sister ship of the SÃO PAULO -- the CLEMENCEAU, the ship is believed to contain more than 300 metric tonnes of PCB-laden materials in concentrations over 50ppm. PCBs are an extremely harmful contaminant of the marine environment due to their chronic toxicity and the capacity of the chemical to biomagnify its concentrations as it moves up the marine food chain.  

 

Under the terms of the Stockholm Convention, POPs such as PCBs must be disposed of in such a way that the POP content is destroyed or irreversibly transformed, so they no longer exhibit the characteristics of POPs. Methods for the safe disposal of POPs have been developed and listed  by the Stockholm and Basel Conventions, and ocean disposal is not an allowed method.  Furthermore, the London Protocol prohibits the disposal of ships at sea without first thoroughly cleaning them of hazardous materials such as PCBs. 

 

The early claim by Brazil and the ship owner that the SÃO PAULO did not contain PCBs, while the sister ship CLEMENCEAU clearly did, has never been substantiated in any way and was but one of the suspicious claims made in the Inventory of Hazardous Materials performed by surveyors working for the Turkish buyer of the ship. On the contrary, evidence exists to suggest otherwise. When the CLEMENCEAU was surveyed in 2006 by Bureau Veritas, PCBs were found in the wiring and gaskets in high concentrations. The surveyors were alarmed enough to surmise that all the cabling and wiring in the ship was likely contaminated. The Bureau Veritas’ report stated:  “All cables (old or more recent, of any use) of the first type have a content greater than the regulation threshold, with some of them having very high content (for example, 23,350 mg/kg). 71% of the cable casings (old or more recent, of any use) of the second type have a content greater than the regulation threshold, with some having very high content (for example, 41,000 mg/kg). It is recommended that the electric cables be considered polluted by PCBs. Specific precautions are to be taken concerning cutting and handling.” 

 

From a YouTube video of what appears to be the decommissioning ceremony on board the ship in 2018, one can see a freeze frame of a central corridor.  Compare this to an archived photo of the CLEMENCEAU’s central corridor. It shows the same harnesses of cables in both ships. Further, the gaskets throughout the ship were also found to be contaminated with PCBs.  There has been no record of removal of the wiring or gasketry on board the SÃO PAULO since decommissioning.   

"We are certain the SÃO PAULO is loaded with asbestos and PCBs as it is normal for military ships of that vintage. Allowing the expected several hundred tons of PCBs to be dumped into the sea where they could leach into the water and be taken up by the marine food chain is unthinkable. We call on the new Brazilian government to reverse their collision course with the environment at once. "
Nicola Mulinaris - Senior Communication and Policy Advisor - NGO Shipbreaking Platform