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

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

NOTES

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

 

Press Release – Appeal Court confirms prison sentence for Norwegian ship owner

The Gulating Lagmannsrett, an Appeal Court in the Norwegian city of Bergen, has confirmed the prison sentence for Norwegian ship owner Georg Eide for aiding and abetting the attempt to export the ship Tide Carrier, aka Eide Carrier and Harrier, to Pakistan for scrapping [1].

 

Back in November 2020, the First Instance Sunnhordland District Court in Norway had sentenced Mr Eide to six months unconditional imprisonment for having assisted scrap dealer Wirana in an attempt to illegally export the Tide Carrier to the shipbreaking beach of Gadani. The Court had also ordered the confiscation of criminal dividends of NOK 2 million from Eide Marine Eidendom AS.

 

Now, almost a year and a half later, Mr Eide, who had decided to appeal the first verdict, sees his prison sentence confirmed. As reported by ShippingWatch, the Court concluded, in line with the National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime's (Økokrim), that the ship owner was aware that the Tide Carrier’s buyer was intending to scrap the vessel in South Asia, in violation of national and European waste rules. According to the Appeal Court, having sold the vessel to a middle man and not directly to a beaching yard does not provide for exempting the ship owner from being held liable for having committed an environmental crime.

 

Transboundary movements of hazardous wastes are strictly regulated by Norwegian, European and international laws. Illegal trade of toxic end-of-life ships are increasingly being investigated by enforcement authorities in several EU Member States, which have the obligation to prevent the export of hazardous wastes to non-OECD countries. Upholding the principles and rules set in the Basel Convention and EU waste legislation, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform expects that more ship owners and intermediaries will be held accountable for the exploitation of vulnerable communities and the environment on the shipbreaking beaches of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and call upon the shipping industry to conduct human rights due diligence when managing their end-of-life fleet.

 

NOTE

 

[1] For more details on the case, see The controversial case of the Harrier.

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

NOTE

 

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

Chattogram, Bangladesh - © NGO Shipbreaking Platform - 2021

Press Release – NGOs join local residents and First Nations in fight against toxic shipbreaking in British Columbia

Eighteen months have passed since local residents and K’ómoks First Nation (KFN) first raised concerns regarding scrapping operations at Union Bay, traditional unceded territory of First Nations within Baynes Sound, British Columbia, Canada. Now, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform joins them in calling on federal, provincial and regional authorities to make sure that the activities carried out by the operator, Deep Water Recovery Ltd (DWR), cease to cause harm to both local communities and the surrounding environment.

 

In December 2020, DWR converted a former log-sort location in an improvised shipbreaking yard to pull apart barges. The shipbreaking activities are in violation of district zoning bylaws, and, to date, the Comox Valley Regional District is still allowing for hazardous operations to take place only a few meters away from several residential houses and within an Ecologically and Biologically Significant Area (EBSA). 

 

As highlighted in a recent report by WWF Canada, Baynes Sound is the highest ranked cumulative and spawning area for herring in the Strait of Georgia and is a critical feeding and overwintering area for water birds. It also supports the highest density of intertidal shellfish aquaculture in British Columbia, producing over half of all the shellfish cultured in the province. Locating a hazardous industry in such an ecologically sensitive zone is simply unacceptable.

 

Despite the foreign management of DWR stating that very stringent environmental plans are in place, drone footage and photos of the site tell a story of vessels taken apart without impermeable flooring and drainage systems in place. No Environmental Impact Assessment or public consultation prior to the dismantling activities having started was conducted.

 

An aerial view of the shipbreaking site at Union Bay - © Concerned Citizens of Baynes Sound / Comox Valley Record
"We do not consider that the landing of vessels onto shores that are unable to contain the many hazardous materials onboard and embedded within the ships’ structures, as currently happening at Union Bay, is a sustainable or acceptable way of recycling ships."
Nicola Mulinaris - Senior Communication and Policy Advisor - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Indeed, shipbreaking activities conducted without full containment can easily pollute land, water and air, as ships are almost invariably contaminated or containing harmful materials in their structures. Recent studies have shown how unregulated scrapping can cause carcinogenic air pollution, loss of marine biodiversity and soil contamination. Furthermore, lack of proper infrastructure and access to emergency equipment puts the lives of workers at risk in case of an accident during the dismantling process.

 

Currently, two former US Government vessels and a BC Ferries Corporation’s passenger ship are moored at Union Bay, possibly waiting to be scrapped. The NOAAS Miller Freeman (R 223), NOAAS Surveyor (S 132) and Queen of Burnaby, given their age and type, are likely to contain high amounts of toxic substances in their structures, including asbestos and PCBs.

"Vessels can only be recycled in a safe and environmentally sound manner at proper industrial sites that ensure a contained environment with impermeable flooring and drainage systems. We therefore urge Canadian authorities to halt immediately the breaking of ships at Union Bay, and take example from the existing EU legislation on ship recycling. We also call upon BC Ferries to opt for a sustainable option for its end-of-life Queen of Burnaby, as well as its other remaining older units."
Nicola Mulinaris - Senior Communication and Policy Advisor - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

The NGO Shipbreaking Platform has recently sent an official letter of concern to all Canadian competent bodies, and stands ready to further assist the affected communities in their fight for environmental justice.

 

Press Release – NGOs urge Greece and Bangladesh to stop illegal beaching of ferry

Yet another passenger ship is heading towards the shipbreaking beaches of South Asia, in clear violation of European rules that are aimed at preventing the trade of toxic waste from the EU to non-OECD countries.

 

The passenger/ro-ro vessel PRINCESS (IMO 7347548) illegally departed from Katakolon, Greece, in July and arrived on 22 August in Chattogram, Bangladesh, where is about to be beached. Despite the fact that competent authorities were alerted that the ship was heading for scrap already in May, the unit was allowed to leave European territorial waters. Before its departure, the new owners changed the flag of the vessel from Cyprus to Togo, and then from Togo to Comoros, in what is a typical preparatory step prior substandard breaking.

 

In addition to the many hazardous materials typically found within the structure of ships and as operational residues, and which characterize end-of-life vessels as toxic waste, the PRINCESS, which was built in 1974, likely contains large amounts of asbestos. The deplorable conditions at the shipbreaking yards in Bangladesh are well-known and cause each year irreparable damage to workers’ health, local communities and the environment. 

"According to the EU Waste Shipment Regulation, the Basel Convention and equivalent national laws, the export of end-of-life ships laden with asbestos and other toxic materials from Greece to non-OECD countries is banned. We therefore urge Greek authorities to immediately call the vessel back for safe and environmentally sound recycling in line with Greece’s obligations under environmental legislation. "
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Lately, the PRINCESS performed ferry activities between Italy and Greece under the control of Greek company A-Ships Management SA. Its illegal export has also caught the attention of Interpol, which is understood to have issued a formal alert to Bangladesh authorities not to allow the import of the ship. In Chattogram, a legal notice challenging the beaching of the vessel has just been issued by the Platform’s member organisation BELA.

 

It is not the first time this year that the Platform has raised concerns with Greek and other European authorities concerning the toxic trade of passenger ships. In March, three cruises were illegally exported from Europe.

 

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 – Sale of asbestos-laden aircraft carrier São Paulo raises concerns

The NGO Shipbreaking Platform, Basel Action Network (BAN), BAN Asbestos France, International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS), İstanbul Isig Meclisi and Brazilian ABREA have alerted the Turkish Ministry of Environment and Urbanization about the legal, environmental and health risks linked to breaking the aircraft carrier São Paulo (ex Foch). 

 

Already last year, the NGOs called upon both Brazilian and French authorities to ensure the safe and environmentally sound recycling of the Clemenceau’s sister ship, and recommended the use of one of the yards included in the EU list of approved ship recycling facilities, which is limited to vetted non-beaching operations in OECD countries. After a lengthy and tortuous auction process, the São Paulo was finally sold to Turkish EU-listed yard Sök Denizcilik and Ticaret Limited.

 

Now, the NGOs are calling upon Turkish authorities to ensure a proper characterization of the hazardous wastes on board the São Paulo so that the export and subsequent management of the toxics can be done in an environmentally sound manner. Like its infamous sister ship Clemenceau, whose misguided export to India was recalled to Europe at great expense due to violations of the Basel Convention, the São Paulo contains large amounts of hazardous substances within its structure, and is thus considered a hazardous waste under the Basel Convention. [1]  

 

In view of the particularly large amounts of asbestos and other hazardous materials likely to be embedded within the vessel’s structure, local civil society groups, political leaders, technical experts and union organisers are now stepping out in strong opposition to the import of the vessel to Turkey. They have raised legitimate concerns about the lack of transparency on how asbestos and other wastes are managed [2], and that the price quoted for the purchase of the aircraft carrier is not financially viable if all the proper precautions are to be observed during the recycling of the vessel and the disposal of the hazardous wastes. No Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHM) was provided during the sale and bidding process for the São Paulo, and it remains uncertain as to whether a proper independent audit or IHM has been performed since.  

 

The NGOs are calling for an independent assessment of whether the plans on how to remove and dispose of the hazardous wastes on board the São Paulo meet the requirements for environmentally sound management and ensure that workers and local communities are not exposed to any risks. Given the very hazardous nature of the military vessel's materials, the shipment from Brazil and subsequent management plans should be fully transparent to any impacted communities and be supported by them.    

 

Click here to access the open letter addressed to the Turkish Ministry of Environment and Urbanization.

São Paulo aircraft carrier in Rio de Janeiro, 2019

 

NOTES

 

[1] Based on the audits performed on the Clemenceau, it is estimated that São Paulo contains around 900 tons of asbestos and asbestos-containing materials, hundreds of tons of Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB)-containing materials and large quantities of toxic heavy metals on-board.

 

[2] Answering a Parliamentary Motion on 20 May 2021, the Turkish Ministry of Environment and Urbanization 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.

 

 

 

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.

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

Press Release – Norwegian ship owner sentenced to prison

Georg Eide convicted for having aided cash buyer in attempt to illegally export toxic ship

 

Last Friday, the Sunnhordland District Court in Norway sentenced ship owner Georg Eide to six months unconditional imprisonment for having assisted scrap dealer Wirana in an attempt to illegally export the TIDE CARRIER (aka EIDE CARRIER and HARRIER) to Pakistan for scrapping. The Court also ordered the confiscation of criminal dividends of NOK 2 million from Eide Marine Eidendom AS.

 

After a decade in lay-up in Norway, the TIDE CARRIER was sold to one of the most well-known cash buyers, Wirana. The intent was to scrap the ship on the beach of Gadani in Pakistan. The NGO Shipbreaking Platform, together with its member organisation Bellona, tipped the police about the imminent illegal export in February 2017. The vessel was arrested upon finding onboard a “last voyage for breaking in Pakistan insurance” issued by Skuld Maritime Agency and two certificates issued on the same day by Marine Warranty Surveyor Aqualis Offshore - one for a voyage with the purpose of refurbishment work in Dubai and one for a last voyage to the scrap yards in Pakistan [1].

"Eide has been charged with complicity in violation of international waste law. The judgement acts as a stark warning that dodgy deals with cash buyers aimed at scrapping vessels on South Asian beaches, where there is no capacity and infrastructure to recycle and dispose of hazardous wastes in a safe and environmentally sound manner, are a serious crime. It also cautions that due diligence is a must for not only ship owners, but also insurers and Marine Warranty Surveyors, to avoid any business relationship with companies that have terrible track records."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Waste exports are strictly regulated in Norwegian, European and international law. The purpose is to protect developing countries from the dumping of hazardous wastes and the harm caused to workers, surrounding communities and the environment when toxics are not treated in an environmentally sound manner. Ships contain numerous toxic materials such as asbestos, heavy metals in paints and residue oils. Last year, the Basel Convention Ban Amendment entered into global force, banning the export of hazardous wastes, including end-of-life ships, from OECD to non OECD countries. The EU transposed the Ban Amendment into EU Law in 1997.

 

Waste trafficking linked to shipbreaking is being investigated by enforcement authorities in several EU Member States. It is also being looked at from a transnational point of view via Europol and Interpol. The Norwegian District Court emphasised an increasing need to counter environmental crime. Public Prosecutor Maria Bache Dahl and the judges stressed that there was no doubt that Eide had knowledge that the ship would be scrapped in Asia, and had also provided assistance in preparing for its last voyage [2].

"The scrapping of obsolete ships is a major international environmental problem. As a large maritime nation, it is important that the Norwegian authorities contribute to the fight against this problem. "
Maria Bache Dahl - Public Prosecutor - Økokrim

Eide may appeal the verdict.

 

 

NOTES

 

[1] For more details on the case, see “The controversial case of the Harrier”.

 

[2] In 2019, separate action was taken against cash buyer Wirana who was fined NOK 7 million for having falsified papers to deceive Norwegian authorities about the ship's true destination and its seaworthiness to allow the vessel to leave Norway. Earlier this year, the public prosecutors’ office dismissed the charge and withdrew the penalty charge notice issued to MWS Aqualis Offshore AS for undisclosed reasons.