Press Release – Ship recycling workers’ protest shakes Aliaga

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

NOTE

 

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

Chattogram, Bangladesh - © NGO Shipbreaking Platform - 2021

Press Release – The EU agrees: the recycling of ships is a matter of 
global environmental justice

The Basel Convention's ban on the export of toxic ships to developing countries reestablished

 

In its proposal for a new regulation on waste shipments published last week, the European Commission surprised many observers by rejecting their earlier romance with the Hong Kong Convention and return to the Basel Convention's affirmation that the Global South should not become the world's dumping ground for hazardous wastes, even when those wastes are ships.  

 

In 2013, EU-flagged vessels were removed from the scope of the waste shipment rules by way of the EU Ship Recycling Regulation, which aimed to ignore the Basel Convention in favor of following the Hong Kong Convention. To date, the Hong Kong Convention, crafted in 2009 under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization, is still not in force. Meanwhile, the Basel Convention's "Basel Ban", designed with a pointed intent to protect developing countries from exploitation, did enter in force as new Convention Article 4a on 5 December 2019.
The EU Waste Shipment Regulation proposal now states that EU-flagged vessels intended to be scrapped whilst under EU jurisdiction are no longer exempted from EU waste laws and need to comply the with Article 4a; this makes it illegal to export any form of hazardous waste from OECD to non-OECD countries for any reason. In a report published in September 2020, bolstered by a legal analysis by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), the NGOs European Environmental Bureau, Basel Action Network, Greenpeace and the NGO Shipbreaking Platform had urged the EU to realign its legislation to respect its international legal commitments under the Basel Convention, including the Ban. 

"That the EU has reinstated the legal validity of the Basel Ban and realised they could no longer pretend that the Ship Recycling Regulation could somehow escape international waste law is a major victory for global environmental justice and governance. The EU proposal now reflects a clear mandate that both the Waste Shipment Regulation and the ship recycling rules must apply to old ships at the same time."
Jim Puckett - Executive Director - Basel Action Network (BAN)

Unfortunately though, while this is seen as a significant signal, very little of the world's fleet of ships, including those flying EU flags, are going to be caught in an EU port when they declare they are to be recycled. It remains all too easy for ship owners to wait to make the fateful scrap announcement in the ports of non-OECD countries or even on the high seas, and thus legally avoid the Basel Ban. The Hong Kong Convention governs flag states, but flags are easily changed; further, the Hong Kong Convention does not have any trade restrictions to prevent the Global South from being disproportionately burdened with the world's most hazardous and difficult-to-recycle wastes. 
Meanwhile, 30% of the tonnage broken down on the infamous shipbreaking beaches of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, harming human health and the environment, is owned by EU-domiciled shipping companies.  Thus it is that NGOs are seeking legislative reforms that place legal jurisdiction over exports defined not only by port states, and flags states, but by the countries that are the corporate domicile of ship owners as well. 

"The decision to scrap these European ships is taken in offices in Hamburg, Athens, Antwerp, Copenhagen and other EU shipping hubs. They are the true exporters regardless of where the vessels happen to be in the world or what flags they fly. Clearly, new efforts must be undertaken to prevent these owners from continuing to circumvent the intent of the Basel Convention to prevent toxic waste dumping."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

According to the environmental and human rights groups, new thinking on how to hold shipping companies accountable for the proper management of their end-of-life ships is aligned with emerging European policies. The European Green Deal calls on the EU to manage its own waste and encourage a circular economy by building a robust and dynamic market for secondary materials, and one that avoids the blatant cost externalisation made possible via exports to weaker economies.  

"We now have an excellent opportunity to close the dumping loopholes and unlock the potential of the EU market for much needed responsible, environmentally just and clean ship recycling, while offering the EU steel manufacturing industry increased availability of scrap steel, avoiding more energy intensive primary production and thus lowering our carbon footprint."
Stéphane Arditi - Director for Policy Integration and Circular Economy - European Environmental Bureau (EEB)

CONTACTS  

 

Ingvild Jenssen, NGO Shipbreaking Platform, ingvild@shipbreakingplatform.org, +32 260 94 419.

Jim Puckett, Basel Action Network, jpuckett@ban.org, +1 206 652 5555.

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yet another fatal accident recently took place at the ship recycling yards of Aliağa, Turkey. On 12 July, Yılmaz Demir (55 years old) and Oğuz Taşkın (30 years old) were onboard the cruise ship CARNIVAL INSPIRATION when they were suddenly caught by flames. Yılmaz died on the spot, whilst Oğuz succumbed due to severe burns three days later at the nearby hospital. The exact circumstances of the accident are still unclear, but the fire supposedly broke out in the engine room. An investigation led by local authorities is ongoing and expected to be finalised soon.

 

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

 

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

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

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

"The causes of the accidents have sadly remained the same over the last 30 years. Workers, however, also fall sick and die of occupational diseases many years after being exposed to toxics. Cancer rates in Aliağa are much higher than the Turkish average. Yet,  industry stakeholders continue to claim that there are no occupational diseases at the shipbreaking yards. Workers' health violations and illegal practices with regards to removal and disposal of hazardous materials, such as asbestos, are ignored  [1]. Aliağa is dying , along with its shipbreaking workers, under the very heavy load and pace of full commission books and growing profits for an untransparent sector that is cutting corners on safety and environmental protection. Europe needs to take the lead in demanding higher standards and should no longer assume that conditions are satisfactory just because they are seemingly compliant on paper."
Asli Odman - Academic and Volunteer - Istanbul Health and Safety Labour Watch

 

NOTE

 

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

 


CORRECTION

 

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


 

Press Release – Turkish EU-listed yards shaken by two fatal accidents

NGOs call upon EU to investigate both

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

On the beaches of Alang in India, Chattogram in Bangladesh, and Gadani in Pakistan, where near 90% of the global world tonnage was scrapped last year, the negative consequences of shipbreaking are real and felt by many. Workers – often exploited migrants, some of them children – are exposed to immense risks. They are killed or seriously injured by fires and falling steel plates, and sickened by exposure to toxic fumes and substances. Coastal biomes, and the local communities depending on them, are devastated by toxic spills and air pollution due to the lack of infrastructure to contain, properly manage and dispose of the many hazardous materials embedded in the ships. 

 

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

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

 


DUMPERS 2020 – Worst practices

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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


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

 

Environmental and labour laws that regulate ship recycling exist, but they are ignored and easily circumvented by ship owners, often with the aid of cash buyers. These pay the highest price for end-of-life vessels and typically re-name, re-register and re-flag the vessels on their last voyage to the beaching yards. Almost half of the ships sold to South Asia in 2020 changed flag to one of the black-listed flags Comoros, Palau and St Kitts & Nevis just weeks before hitting the beach. At least 14 of these flag changes enabled ship owners to circumvent the EU Ship Recycling Regulation. [1]

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

For the full Excel dataset of all ships dismantled worldwide in 2020, click here. *

 

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

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

 

NOTE

 

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

 

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

 

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

Press Release – NGOs call EU’s intent to export toxic ships to developing countries illegal and contrary to aims of Green Deal

The Basel Action Network (BAN), the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), Greenpeace, and the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, leading organisations active in the pursuit of preventing the environmental injustice caused by the dumping of hazardous waste, warn that the European Union's legislation allowing the export of toxic ships to developing countries violates Member States’ obligations under the Basel Convention and is in contradiction with the EU's new strategic economic and environmental policy initiatives.

 

In a new report entitled Contradiction in Terms: European Union must align its ship exports with International Law and Green Deal Policies, the NGOs call upon the EU to take urgent action to reform both the Waste Shipment Regulation and the Ship Recycling Regulation to ensure they are legally consistent with the international Basel Convention. They note with concern that proposals have been made for the EU to enter into a special bilateral agreement with certain shipbreaking states (e.g. India) as a supposed legitimate means to circumvent the Basel Convention’s Ban Amendment, which entered into global force last December [1]. Bolstered by a new analysis by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) [2], the report explains why that is not acceptable both from a legal standpoint and as a matter of policy. 

"Put simply, the EU procedure of filling out paperwork and permitting toxic ships to go to the beaches of South Asia for the purposes of their disposal/recycling can never be an equivalent level of control and protection as a rule that bans such export. Now that the Ban Amendment is in force, it is binding international law. Shipbreaking yards in developing countries such as India, Pakistan and Bangladesh can therefore not be placed on the EU’s list of approved ship recycling destinations. "
Jim Puckett - Executive Director - Basel Action Network (BAN)

In light of the new European Green Deal - and at a time when 1) EU waste law is being recast to ‘facilitate preparing for re-use and recycling of waste in the EU’ and ‘restrict exports of waste that have harmful environmental and health impacts in third countries; 2) the EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan calls for ensuring that the EU does not export its waste challenges to third countries; and 3) the recently published Foresight 2020 report identifies the need for greater resilience in providing more green jobs in the EU - it seems especially incoherent for the EU to rely on faulty legal argumentation that would defeat the intent and purpose of the Ban Amendment while undermining the EU's strategic economic and environmental policy initiatives. 

"Such action will send a signal to the rest of the world that the EU is not serious about a responsible circular economy and international law. By allowing the breaking of European vessels in the Global South, Europe is not only exporting hazardous waste and threatening people’s health in developing countries, but also contradicting its own ambition to boost the domestic supply of secondary raw materials – as set out in its circular economy action plan. EU leaders must focus on reprocessing, reusing and recycling valuable materials, particularly steel, within Europe."
Stéphane Arditi - Circular Economy Policy Manager - European Environmental Bureau (EEB)

The NGOs call on the EU to seize the opportunity to boost safe and clean ship recycling in Europe, as well as to promote the design and building of toxic-free vessels and to push for ‘zero-emissions steel’ initiatives [3]. Such actions would enable Europe to offer proper recovery solutions for ships from all over the world.

"We fear that the EU is just fine with human rights, environmental treaties and a ‘green deal’ until it impacts the bottom line of powerful industrial interests. Instead of inventing exceptions to international law, we expect the EU to support its recycling sector and safeguard the environmental justice principles that it championed when supporting the Basel Ban Amendment - and now has put at the heart of its new Green Deal."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

NOTES

 

[1] The Ban Amendment to the Basel Convention, championed early on by the EU and now enshrined in international waste law, bans hazardous wastes of all kinds from being exported from developed to developing countries. The Basel Convention has already ruled that operational ships can be considered as hazardous wastes due to the many toxics embedded within their structure.  Yet, current EU law allows EU flagged vessels to be exported to any destination on an EU approved ship recycling facility list, regardless of whether it is a developing country or not.  

 

[2] The CIEL analysis explains that the Basel Convention does not allow reservations or exceptions, and only allows special separate agreements if they provide an "equivalent level of control."

 

[3] See Material Economics’ report Industrial Transformation 2050.

 

Platform News – Carnival Corporation commits to sustainable ship recycling

NGOs commend cruise shipping giant Carnival Corporation for its recent decision to support clean, safe and just ship recycling. The American ship owner has worked with the Platform’s member organisation Bellona Foundation and Dutch company Sea2Cradle for the development of a comprehensive ship recycling plan for two of its retired vessels.

 

The CARNIVAL FANTASY and the CARNIVAL INSPIRATION will be scrapped at yards Simsekler and Ege Celik, located in Turkey. Both recycling facilities meet the environmental and safety standards set out in the EU Ship Recycling Regulation, which became applicable on 31 December 2018 and provides the only reliable auditing scheme for clean and safe recycling.

"Bellona Foundation welcomes Carnival Corporation's decision to responsibly recycle their retired ships in Turkey, and we applaud them for their commitment to responsible management throughout the lifecycle of their ships. Dismantling a cruise ship is complex, involving many components for reuse, recycling and waste for disposal. Carnival Corporation's commitment to recycling in a proper way to avoid pollution and to safeguard the environment shows leadership."
Sigurd Enge - Shipping & Arctic - Bellona Foundation

The scrapping operations will be closely monitored on the ground by ship recycling consultants Sea2Cradle. With over twenty years of experience in sustainable ship recycling, they will ensure that all health, safety and environmental measures are followed.

 

Carnival Corporation is not the only cruise company that has been forced to downsize its fleet. The entire cruise sector is severely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, with many ship owners taking steps to reduce operating expenses, including the retirement of relatively young ships. According to shipping databases, at least five cruises have already been sent for scrapping in the last seven months. In June, Carnival’s subsidiary Costa sold the COSTA VICTORIA to Genova Industrie Navali-controlled San Giorgio del Porto, which will now likely take care of pre-recycling operations at a yard in Piombino, Italy. Last month, Pullmantur sent MONARCH and SOVEREIGN cruises for scrapping in Turkey. Rumours are that German TUI’s MARELLA CELEBRATION might also head soon towards the breakers. In 2018, its sister ship MARELLA SPIRIT was illegally exported  from Greek territorial waters for scrapping on the beaches of South Asia in violation of the EU Waste Shipment Regulation.

 

"Carnival Corporation’s decision shows that it is possible to scrap ships off the beach. Ship owners have a duty of care with regards to the safe management of their end-of-life fleet, and we strongly advise other owners to follow Carnival’s example to avoid putting workers, the environment and their own company at risk. Opting for a facility that is on the EU List is the best safeguard a concerned owner can take."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

The Toxic Tide – 2021 Shipbreaking Records

THE TOXIC TIDE

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

Explore our Data Visualisation and read our Press Release.