Press Release – Toxic aircraft carrier São Paulo rejected by Turkey returning to Brazil

Environmental and labour groups declare victory 

 

The toxic waste-laden aircraft carrier SÃO PAULO is on its way back to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. IBAMA, the Brazilian Agency that had approved the export, was forced to recall the ship after Turkey barred its entrance on August 26, 2022, pending a proper and credible accounting of the volumes of hazardous wastes on board, including asbestos, PCBs, toxic paints, and radioactive wastes.

 

Prior to this dramatic reversal, a broad coalition of civil society organisations and concerned citizens had raised the alarm about the final voyage of the massive vessel, alerting authorities in Brazil, Turkey, and countries all over the Mediterranean region with numerous, detailed letters describing the illegality of the transboundary movement of the hazardous wastes on board the ship. The opposition against the export also manifested itself in large street protests in Aliağa, Izmir, and elsewhere in Turkey.  Additionally, the UK territory of Gibraltar had stated that it would disallow the passage of the ship through its territorial waters prior to Turkey’s decision.

"It is gratifying to see that Turkey took our concerns regarding the illegality of this shipment of hazardous wastes seriously. We suspect that many of the old ships being landed and scrapped in Turkey are not legal shipments according to the international waste trade treaties – the Basel and Barcelona Conventions."
Nicola Mulinaris - Senior Communication and Policy Advisor - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Under the Basel Convention, inventories of hazardous materials must be accurate, and the environmentally sound management of the toxics assured. Further, under the Izmir Protocol of the Barcelona Convention, Turkey is not allowed to import hazardous wastes into its territory.

 

So far, two suspect Inventories of Hazardous Materials (IHMs) have been submitted by Sök Denizcilik and Ticaret Limited, the buyer of the ship, despite the impossibility to access the majority of the ship’s structure to conduct a proper assessment. Both documents identify quantities of hazardous substances, such as asbestos and PCBs, far below the actual amounts found on SÃO PAULO’s sister ship CLEMENCEAU. The latter was built with the same design and was found to contain hundreds of tons of asbestos and PCBs at the time of its recycling in the UK. The buyer’s claim of a reported 9 tons of asbestos, no PCBs, and no radioactive residues on board the SÃO PAULO is thus seen as highly improbable.

 

Now, with the initial victory declared, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, together with the Basel Action Network (BAN), BAN Asbestos France, the Henri Pézerat Association (Work, Health, Environment), International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS), İstanbul İSİG (İşçi Sağlığı ve İş Güvenliği) Meclisi, Greenpeace Mediterranean, and Brazilian ABREA (Associação Brasileira dos Expostos ao Amianto), is calling for a new independent IHM to be performed under the review of the French Government, and, importantly, for an entirely new auction to take place with only legal destinations participating.

 

When France sold the vessel to Brazil, the sale agreement specified that the ship could not be sent for dismantling without prior French approval. Given the current circumstances, France should now assist IBAMA in making sure an impartial and objective assessment of the quantities of hazardous materials on board is carried out, and the removal of asbestos, PCBs, radioactive substances, and toxic paints is performed in full compliance with national and international rules aimed at protecting both workers and the environment from poor waste management practices.

 

Several European yards, equipped with state-of-the-art technologies, have been showing interest in properly managing the recycling of the vessel. Additionally, a Brazilian organisation has been relentlessly campaigning for the conversion of the ship into a museum. Considering the illegality of the attempted transboundary movement and the buyer’s unreliable IHM submissions, Brazil is urged to start over, and initiate a new sale and be ready to consider alternative offers even if they are more expensive.

 

The SÃO PAULO is scheduled to arrive in Rio de Janeiro on October 4. According to the civil society groups, without a new accurate IHM, environmentally sound waste management plans, a new auction, and assurances of legal export, the ship must not be allowed to leave Brazil again.

"It is vital that the important job of managing our old toxic ships is done in accordance with international law and with the highest levels of care available on earth. Turkey certainly has no wish to be considered the world’s cheap and convenient waste dumping ground."
Asli Odman - Academic - Istanbul Health and Safety Labour Watch

 

For more information:

 

Jim Puckett, Basel Action Network, e-mail: jpuckett@ban.org, Phone: +1 206-354-0391Annie Thébaud-Mony, for Ban Asbestos-France Association, email: annie.mony@gmail.com
Asli Odman, Istanbul Health and Safety Labour Watch, email: asliodman@gmail.com
NGO Shipbreaking Platform, e-mail: info@shipbreakingplatform.org, Phone, +32 (0)260.94.419

 

 

Platform News – REMINDER: Ship Recycling Lab on 20-21 September in Rotterdam

It’s almost time! We hope your calendars are marked because the Ship Recycling Lab is about to take place in the shipping hub of Rotterdam.

 

On the 20th and 21st of September, forward-thinking stakeholders from the maritime, recycling and steel sectors, financial institutions, and policymakers will gather at the iconic Kunsthal Museum, where they will showcase and exchange ideas for best practices and strategies for ship demolition, design, waste management and material recovery in line with ethical circular policy goals.

 

The event will provide visibility to companies that have developed solutions, including innovative cutting techniques, new state-of-the-art waste handling procedures, cradle-to-cradle concept design, and clean steel breakthrough technologies aimed at achieving a zero-carbon steel-making process. Curious and want to learn more? Check out the list of speakers and the online agenda here.

 

What are the impacts of unregulated shipbreaking practices on workers and the environment? What does it mean to sustainably recycle vessels in line with ethical circularity? What impacts will the increased demand for scrap steel have on the ship recycling market? How can new innovative technologies and economic and policy instruments drive an ethical circular economy?

 

We try to answer these questions in conversation with leading advocates for environmental justice, ship owners, steel producers, policy makers, researchers, shipbuilders, ship recycling experts, and many more.

 

Don’t waste any time. Register and buy your tickets now at www.shiprecyclinglab.org. Come join us! 

Any questions? Contact us at events@shipbreakingplatform.org.
 

We encourage you to join the discussions on Twitter using the hashtag #SRLab. You can also follow the event organisers @ShipRecLab and @NGOShipbreaking.

 

Press Release – Turkish authorities ban the entrance of toxic aircraft carrier São Paulo

Success after weeks of public protests

 

Turkey has finally banned the toxic aircraft carrier SÃO PAULO from entering its national waters. For weeks, local environmental and labour rights groups, supported by international NGOs, have been protesting the voyage of the vessel from Brazil to Aliağa, demanding compliance with the Basel and Barcelona Conventions.

"From a marvelous public march with the participation of thousands of people in Aliağa to theatrical demonstrations in the center of İzmir and public statements in front of official buildings, all people came together around one single demand: to stop this toxic ship! Digital and conventional signature petitions reached more than 150.000 people within a month! The will and never-ending commitment of people forced policy makers to reconsider the mistake they had made."
Gokhan Ersoy - Project Development Officer - Greenpeace Mediterranean

The decision by Murat Kurum, Turkish Minister of Environment, City and Climate Change, comes after a Federal District Court injunction to stop the departure of the ship was not enforced, and the Brazilian government and the buyer of the vessel failed to produce and submit a second Inventory of Hazardous Material (IHM) in order to properly identify the amounts of toxics onboard the ship. Indeed, a second audit was deemed necessary by Turkey after environmental and human rights organisations challenged the validity of the first one.

"The extraordinary resistance against the export of this ship comes at a moment of intensive environmental damage to this part of the world because of the ‘open door’ waste policy of the Turkish government. No environmental or social dumping should be allowed to be able to put the environmental standards on firm ground. Thus our struggle is not only a national one."
Asli Odman - Academic - Istanbul Health and Safety Labour Watch

Following the cancellation of Turkey’s consent to the transboundary movement, IBAMA (Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources) has issued a letter to Oceans Prime Offshore Agenciamento Maritimo Ltda, the exporting company working with the buyer SOK, to arrange the immediate return of the SÃO PAULO to Brazil. However, to date, the company in control of the vessel has not yet provided information regarding the route change.

"Together with the Basel Action Network (BAN), BAN Asbestos France, Henri Pézerat Association (Work, Health, Environment), International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS), İstanbul Isig Meclisi, Greenpeace Mediterranean, and Brazilian ABREA (Associação Brasileira dos Expostos ao Amianto), the NGO Shipbreaking Platform is now calling for the governments of Morocco, Spain, and the UK to immediately halt the vessel should it attempt to cross the Strait of Gibraltar. There is no doubt that we are witnessing a clear case of illegal traffic."
Nicola Mulinaris - Senior Communication and Policy Advisor - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

 

For more information:

 

Jim Puckett, Basel Action Network, e-mail: jpuckett@ban.org, Phone: +1 206-354-0391Annie Thébaud-Mony, for Ban Asbestos-France Association, email: annie.mony@gmail.com
Asli Odman, Istanbul Health and Safety Labour Watch, email: asliodman@gmail.com
NGO Shipbreaking Platform, e-mail: info@shipbreakingplatform.org, Phone, +32 (0)260.94.419

 

 

Public protest rally march on 4 August 2022 in Aliağa, Turkey. Image provided by Greenpeace Mediterranean.

Press Release – Turkey demands new survey of massive toxic warship before import


Green groups applaud Turkish request

 

The Brazilian government and Sok Denizcilik Tic.Ve Ltd.Sti (SOK) of Aliaga, Turkey, the buyer of the Aircraft Carrier SÃO PAULO, were sent scrambling on August 9, when Turkish authority Eyüp Karahan General Director of Environmental Management, on behalf of Minister Çevre Yönetimi Genel Müdürü, sent a letter to the Brazilian agency IBAMA, Competent Authority for the Basel Convention, requiring a new Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHM) to be conducted prior the export:

 

"... As a result of the Supreme Court's interim injunction, news in the press, and the hazardous materials notices made to our Ministry, it has emerged that a new Inventory of Hazardous Materials for the ex-naval vessel in question should be prepared while the vessel is in Brazilian territorial waters before it comes to our country."

 

Claiming for weeks that the export of the ship from Brazil to Turkey is illegal under the Basel and Barcelona Conventions and that the current IHM is not credible, environmental, and labor rights groups working on this matter in Turkey, Brazil, and internationally praised the Turkish action.

"Turkey is to be applauded for asking for a true and accurate survey and inventory. The current one is simply not believable based on what we know about older aircraft carriers. We have real concerns that the provided inventory grossly underestimates the hazardous and radioactive materials on board the São Paulo."
Nicola Mulinaris - Senior Communication and Policy Advisor - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

It must be noted that Grieg Green, the survey company that issued the IHM for SOK, :

 

-  admitted they had access to only 12% of the ship;

-  did not have access to the IHM prepared by the Brazilian Navy;

-  concluded there were no radioactive materials onboard;

-  did not compare with the IHM issued by Bureau Veritas for the vessel’s sister ship CLEMENCEAU;

-  did not adequately test (only six samples) Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) concluding there were none;

-  concluded that there might be more asbestos onboard the aircraft carrier than the estimated 9 tons; and

-  recommended further sampling during dismantling operations.

 

The SÃO PAULO's sister ship CLEMENCEAU was estimated to have at least 760 tons of asbestos, a figure which was later confirmed by Bureau Veritas upon the dismantling of the CLEMENCEAU at the scrap yard ABLE UK.

 

IBAMA has responded to the Turkish request by saying the ship had already left Brazil so therefore it was not possible to fulfill the request that a new inventory be made in Brazilian territorial waters.

 

Indeed, just a few hours following the court injunction on August 4, the ship was hastily towed out to sea, and instead of following the towage plan which projected it sailing along the Brazilian coast, the tow train made an easterly heading to leave Brazilian territory as rapidly as possible. 

 

Despite the federal injunction which is now considered out of force, and the new demand for a new IHM by Turkey, neither IBAMA, the Brazilian Navy, nor SOK have made any move to turn the ship back to Brazil. It is currently moving at its top speed just off the coast of Mauritania and is just a few days away from the Strait of Gibraltar. Meanwhile, neither Spain, the UK nor Morocco have been notified or given consent for it to pass through their waters at Gibraltar as is required by the Basel Convention.

 

While IBAMA seems unwilling to respect the request by Turkey that the new survey be conducted in Brazil, they, nevertheless, wrote to the exporting company working with SOK, known as Oceans Prime Offshore Agenciamento Maritimo Ltda., to remind them that it is within the rights of the importing country to amend their import consent with new conditions. They suggested that a new IHM may be required "upon arrival" and would need to be paid for by SOK. However, doing the job in Turkey instead of Brazil is likely to be illegal.

"Under no circumstances should Turkey agree that the new survey be conducted in Turkey or any other country other than Brazil. Under the Basel Convention, a proper inventory of hazardous materials can only be conducted prior to export."
Jim Puckett - Director - Basel Action Network (BAN)
"The rush by the Brazilian government to get out to sea without checking to see if Turkey has laws against such import, to alert transit countries, and before a court injunction can be properly served, is not an excuse for Turkey to ever allow this ship into our territory. It must go back now. It should not even be allowed to pass into the Mediterranean Sea."
Asli Odman - Academic - Istanbul Health and Safety Labour Watch

 

For more information:

 

Jim Puckett, Basel Action Network, e-mail: jpuckett@ban.org, Phone: +1 206-354-0391Annie Thébaud-Mony, for Ban Asbestos-France Association, email: annie.mony@gmail.com
Asli Odman, Istanbul Health and Safety Labour Watch, email: asliodman@gmail.com
NGO Shipbreaking Platform, e-mail: info@shipbreakingplatform.org, Phone, +32 (0)260.94.419

 

 

Press Release – Imminent breaking of asbestos-laden NOASS Miller Freeman worries NGOs and local residents of Union Bay, British Columbia

With the latest news that a ship containing high amounts of toxic substances will be dismantled in Union Bay, Stand.earth, Georgia Strait Alliance, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform and the Basel Action Network (BAN) once again call upon B.C. federal, provincial and local competent bodies to halt the shipbreaking activities conducted by Deep Water Recovery LTD (DWR) at Union Bay, traditional unceded territory of several First Nations within Baynes Sound.

 

Nearby residents and K’ómoks First Nation (KFN) have raised serious concerns regarding the conditions at the yard for the past two years. In February 2022, following local and international pressure, the Comox Valley Regional District Board determined that the scrapping of vessels is not a permitted activity in the Industrial Marine (IM) zone according to the Zoning Bylaw, and sought an injunction against DWR in an attempt to shut it down. In April 2022, MP Gord Johns raised in the House of Commons the issue of shipbreaking at Union Bay and the lack of national regulation. Yet, despite these developments, local residents inform that operations at DWR have never ceased, with the former US government-owned vessel NOAAS Miller Freeman (R 223) ready to be scrapped. 

 

Given its age and type, the NOAAS Miller Freeman ship is likely to contain high amounts of hazardous substances in its structures, such as toxic paints and asbestos, which are a threat to humans and local wildlife, including shellfish. The ship was sold at auction in 2013. The Government Services Agency cautioned bidders about the presence of asbestos in pipe insulations, floor tiles, and wallboards. Without mentioning the exact amounts of hazardous materials, the bidding documents specifically recommended the buyer(s) to not release asbestos fibers by “cutting, crushing, sanding, disassembling”, operations that will take place at DWR once the vessel will be completely pulled out of the water.

 

In addition to stopping the work in Union Bay, a federally designated zone of water that is biologically significant, the groups call on the Federal Government and the Province to regulate shipbreaking in Canada and mandate that vessels be recycled in a safe and environmentally sound manner at proper industrial sites that ensure a contained environment. 

 

An aerial view of the NOASS Miller Freeman at Union Bay - © Concerned Citizens of Baynes Sound

Press Release – Brazil silent as renegade aircraft carrier moves in 
defiance of injunction and international law


Toxic warship on 6,000-mile illegal voyage across the Atlantic

 

Environmental, human rights, and labor organisations from around the world are sounding the alarm over the former Brazilian aircraft carrier SÃO PAULO, now being towed across the Atlantic towards Turkey in defiance of international and Brazilian law. 

 

The SÃO PAULO, formerly known as French naval vessel FOCH and sister ship of the infamous French aircraft carrier CLEMENCEAU, departed Brazil on the 4th of August 2022 towed by the Dutch towing vessel ALP CENTRE on a 6,000-mile journey to Aliaga, Turkey, where it is intended to be scrapped. The ship is running in defiance of a Brazil Federal District Court injunction and, according to the activist groups, has been exported in violation of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, as well as the Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean. It is also moving in opposition to the wishes of local communities in Turkey, who consider the impending arrival and scrapping of the vessel to be an unacceptable toxic threat.   

"Safe recycling or repurposing is, of course, the right thing to do with old ships. But dismantling old ships, laden as they are with toxic paints, asbestos, and cancer-causing chemicals, is one of the world's most dangerous occupations. It must only be done in strict compliance with international and national laws and norms. The preparation and plan for this ship already fails that test."
Jim Puckett - Director - Basel Action Network (BAN)

The NGO Shipbreaking Platform, Basel Action Network (BAN), BAN Asbestos France, Henri Pézerat Association (Work, Health, Environment), International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS), İstanbul Isig Meclisi, Greenpeace Mediterranean and Brazilian ABREA are all calling for the government of Brazil and the owner of the ship (SOK Denizcilik Ve Tic LTD STI ME) to comply immediately with the injunction issued by the 16th Federal Court (Rio de Janeiro) and return the ship to Rio de Janeiro. In an open letter to IBAMA (Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources), the Brazilian government agency responsible for authorizing the export under the Basel Convention, BAN and the NGO Shipbreaking Platform cited likely violations of established law. 

 

Defiance of Brazilian Federal District Court Injunction

 

On August 4, just a few hours after the departure of the vessel, a judge of the 16th Federal Court issued an "Order to Return the Ex-Nae SÃO PAULO to Rio de Janeiro.”  IBAMA, as the entity charged with authorizing the shipment under the Basel Convention, has clear responsibility and authority to recall the export. As no action has been taken by the Brazilian authorities, the non-governmental organisations have consequently alerted INTERPOL to the situation. 

 

Lack of Required Insurance

 

According to the insurance documents filed by IBAMA prior to the ship's departure, the accident and damage insurance elapsed in May 2022.  Yet, insurance required by the Basel Convention must be in place before the export. If the filed documents are correct and the SÃO PAULO was not properly covered by insurance, it is unlikely that any insurance company will correct this failure now and renew the policy, as the ship's export is currently under an injunction and a cloud of illegality and uncertainty.   

 

Export without Notification to, and Consent from, Transit States

 

According to the towing plan filed by IBAMA, the transboundary movement of the SÃO PAULO from Brazil to Turkey will pass through the Strait of Gibraltar and thus will move through the territorial waters of Spain, the UK, and/or Morocco. Under the Basel Convention, all transit states must be notified and give their consent before the export can commence. However, in the correspondence between the NGOs and IBAMA, it was incorrectly asserted by IBAMA that the prior notification to transit states was not needed if the ship did not stop in a port. The Basel Convention's definitions clarify that transit includes passage through territorial waters. Thus, depending on the precise route chosen, Spain, Morocco, the UK, Malta, Italy, and Tunisia should have been notified and their consent should have been received prior to departure. Failure to do this makes this export illegal traffic under the Convention. Without such notification, Spain, Morocco and UK should deny passage. 

 

Export to Parties that have Prohibited the Import of Hazardous Waste 

 

When Parties notify the Basel Secretariat that they possess an import prohibition of hazardous wastes, all Parties must respect that prohibition under the Convention. Turkey has notified not only that they have a national import ban on hazardous wastes, but they are also Party to the Izmir Protocol of the Barcelona Convention, which requires Turkey to ban imports of hazardous wastes. In the case of the SÃO PAULO, Brazil, as an exporting state Party must prohibit all exports to Turkey. Yet Brazil allowed this export.  

 

Toxic Waste Quantification Discrepancies  

 

A complete and accurate assessment of the hazardous materials (waste) contained within the ship structures is a requirement prior to export under the Basel Convention. However, it appears that the Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHM) prepared for the SÃO PAULO by Grieg Green may have greatly underestimated the quantities of cancer-causing asbestos, toxic paints, radioactive substances, and Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs).  In 2006, Greenpeace International commissioned Mr. Aage Bjorn Andersen, an expert in the field of hazardous material surveys on marine vessels, to assess the sister ship CLEMENCEAU. His estimate was 760 metric tons of asbestos. In contrast, the recent IHM estimated just 9.6 tons. And, in a subsequent letter, Grieg Green admitted that figure could be significantly off the true amount. Similarly, the CLEMENCEAU was estimated to contain 165 tons of PCB material (levels higher than 50/ppm concentrations). The IHM for the SAO PAULO found no PCBs in the small number of samples taken and estimated no PCBs. For a ship built in 1957 when use of PCBs was ubiquitous, this finding of no PCBs is doubtful. Without a proper assessment of hazardous materials, the proper capacity to manage the waste cannot be determined. 

 

Meanwhile, communities in Turkey are alarmed about the incoming hazardous wastes that will potentially harm workers and need to be managed and disposed of safely. They have organized daily vigils to take place in Aliaga.  

Poster calling for Turkish demonstration against the import of the vessel
"The intended export of this massive toxic warship to Aliaga has triggered a powerful reaction from labor and environmental groups across Turkey. We are calling for the ship to be returned to Brazil immediately. Global environmental laws banning the trade in hazardous wastes must not be circumvented so easily. Until this ship can be scrapped lawfully and safely, just as it would have been accomplished in France, where it was built, our answer is a clear NO."
Asli Odman - Academic - Istanbul Health and Safety Labour Watch

 

For more information:

 

Jim Puckett, Basel Action Network, e-mail: jpuckett@ban.org, Phone: +1 206-354-0391Annie Thébaud-Mony, for Ban Asbestos-France Association, email: annie.mony@gmail.com
Asli Odman, Istanbul Health and Safety Labour Watch, email: asliodman@gmail.com
NGO Shipbreaking Platform, e-mail: info@shipbreakingplatform.org, Phone, +32 (0)260.94.419

 

 

Press Release – Toxic warship “Clemenceau II” starts voyage from Brazil to the Mediterranean Sea

In violation of Basel and Barcelona Conventions -- NGOs call on President Macron to take responsibility for old French aircraft carrier

 

Reports from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil confirm that the sister ship of the infamous aircraft carrier CLEMENCEAU, formerly known as French warship FOCH, and most recently named the SÃO PAULO, has now been placed under tow on an about 6000-mile journey to Aliaga, Turkey, where it is to be scrapped.  Environmental groups around the world are denouncing Brazil’s export and disposal plans in Turkey as illegal and unsafe.

History repeating itself

 

The NGO Shipbreaking Platform, Basel Action Network (BAN), BAN Asbestos France, Henri Pézerat Association (Work, Health, Environment), International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS), İstanbul Isig Meclisi, Brazilian ABREA and Greenpeace Mediterranean have called upon President Macron to take responsibility for the ship and direct it to safe and legal recycling or reuse, as France did with the sister carrier the CLEMENCEAU in 2006. At that time, France exported the CLEMENCEAU to India, only to admit that the export was illegal under the EU Waste Shipment Regulation. Consequently, President Jacques Chirac ordered its return to France.  

"History is sadly repeating itself. In 2006, the Indian Supreme Court and the French Conseil d’Etat required France to take into account international law concerning the dismantling of the Clemenceau. Will it be necessary for the citizen movement of many countries concerned to plead again in court in 2022 to respect international law and respect of occupational and environmental health? "
Annie Thébaud-Mony - Ban Asbestos France
The aircraft carrier prior departure - © Instituto São Paulo | Foch

Illegal export

 

This time, according to environmental organisations, the movement of the SÃO PAULO from Brazil to Turkey is also illegal, as it violates the 1996 Izmir Protocol (Protocol on the Prevention of Pollution of the Mediterranean Sea by Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal) of the Barcelona Convention, which does not allow hazardous wastes to enter the Mediterranean Sea unless they are to be destined to an EU country for recycling or disposal. The export of the ship also violates the Basel Convention as Brazil has failed to recognise the Izmir Protocol that imposes a ban on Turkey, and has failed to notify and receive the consent of the potential transit states Spain, Morocco, and the UK at the Strait of Gibraltar. Further, the NGOs claim that the IHM (Inventory of Hazardous Materials) is suspected of being a gross underestimation as it claims levels of asbestos, PCBs, and other toxic materials at levels far below what was found on the CLEMENCEAU.

 

In 2000, the French Navy sold the aircraft carrier SÃO PAULO to Brazil. Last year, the Brazilian navy decided to scrap the vessel, and it was auctioned off to a Turkish shipbreaking yard, Sök Denizcilik and Ticaret Limited. The SÃO PAULO, as did the CLEMENCEAU, contains large amounts of hazardous substances such as asbestos, PCBs, and toxic paints within its structure, qualifying it under international law as hazardous waste and thus subject to special trade controls. The NGOs alerted the Turkish Ministry of Environment and Urbanization and the Brazilian Basel Convention Competent Authority (IBAMA) about the legal, environmental, and health risks linked to breaking the vessel in Turkey. So far, the two governments have rebuffed the NGOs and ignored the claims of legal violations. Yesterday, the NGO Basel Action Network answered IBAMA's official response with an open letter, urging Brazil to respect international law and delay the export until a legal and safe solution can be found. 

"What Turkey and Brazil are doing can best be called state-sponsored criminal waste trafficking. We have cited chapter and verse of their treaty violations and yet they've responded with the bureaucratic equivalent of a shrug. As we were forced to do with the CLEMENCEAU, we will have to rely on the citizens of multiple countries and responsible governments around the world to enforce the treaty obligations of Turkey and Brazil. "
Jim Puckett - Director - Basel Action Network (BAN)

Discrepancy in waste accounting

 

The consultant Grieg Green had prepared the IHM for the SÃO PAULO. NGOs now raise serious concerns that this IHM has missed identifying large amounts of asbestos, PCBs, and radioactive contamination. Comparing the IHM of the SÃO PAULO with the one that Bureau Veritas issued for the CLEMENCEAU, there is not only a big discrepancy in terms of the amounts of hazardous materials identified but also in terms of rooms and tanks that have been sampled. On the SÃO PAULO 12% of the rooms were sampled, compared to 82% of the rooms on the CLEMENCEAU.

 

The SÃO PAULO's IHM estimates just 9.6 tons of asbestos-contaminated materials onboard the vessel. However, the CLEMENCEAU, SÃO PAULO's sistership, contained at least 600 tons of asbestos. With no further proof of prior asbestos removal operations on the SÃO PAULO, it is expected that the ship has similar amounts of asbestos onboard.

 

Moreover, the IHM provided by Grieg Green did not detect the presence of PCBs. However, no testing of the electrical cabling was conducted even though all the electrical cabling on the CLEMENCEAU was estimated to contain PCBs, and the use of PCBs in ship flooring, gaskets, rubber parts, insulation, paints, etc. was common at the time both aircraft carriers were built in France. 

 

The SÃO PAULO was furthermore involved with atmospheric nuclear bomb testing in the Pacific. The presence of 170 tonnes of lead/cadmium paint, which could shield radioactive contamination, and the lack of information on prior removal of radioactive equipment have raised concerns that the vessel is contaminated despite claims to the contrary.

 

Turkish citizens in strong opposition

 

In view of the large amounts of asbestos and other hazardous materials embedded within the vessel’s structure, local civil society groups, political leaders, technical experts, and union organisers in Turkey are now stepping out in strong opposition to the import of the vessel to Turkey. Turkish environmental organizations such as ALÇEP, FOÇEP, EGECEP, IA, and Polen Ecology in Izmir, intend to use their constitutional right to life and the environment, to impede the dismantling of the aircraft carrier.

 

"Despite the claims that all is well in Turkish shipbreaking yards, the massive amounts of asbestos, toxic paints, and PCBs have a deadly impact on workers, their families and on the communities where the removed toxic materials and paint-laden steel are smelted. There are long-lasting environmental and social rights violations taking place in and around Aliağa, and this time, the populations of Aliağa and İzmir are organising energetically against this import and the lack of accountability in the shipbreaking sector. "
Asli Odman - Academic - Istanbul Health and Safety Labour Watch

President Macron asked to take responsibility

  

Now that Brazil has rebuffed the call to halt the export of the ship, the NGOs are calling upon French President Macron to stop the export of the SÃO PAULO to Turkey and make sure that the export and subsequent management of the toxics on the SÃO PAULO is done in an environmentally sound manner. Read the full letter to the President here

 

 

For more information:

NGO Shipbreaking Platform, e-mail: info@shipbreakingplatform.org, Phone, +32 (0)260.94.419

Jim Puckett, Basel Action Network, e-mail: jpuckett@ban.org, Phone: +1 206-354-0391

Annie Thébaud-Mony, for Ban Asbestos-France Association, email: annie.mony@gmail.com

Asli Odman, Istanbul Health and Safety Labour Watch, email: asliodman@gmail.com

 

 

Press Release – Surge of accidents at yards owned by Kabir Group in Bangladesh

Since the beginning of 2022, out of the eighteen accidents that shook the Bangladeshi shipbreaking industry, six have taken place at yards owned by Kabir Steel Re-Rolling Mills (KSRM), a concern of large conglomerate Kabir Group.

 

In the last week of January, Mohammad Bakul Pramanik was fatally hit by an iron girder. In February, while scrapping the vessels PIONEER (IMO 9048110) and MED (IMO 9002207), owned by South Korean Polaris Shipping and Singaporean Hin Leong Trading respectively, Ariful Islam Sujan lost his life, whilst Mujidul Haque, Shalim and Md Rofiqul got severely injured. On May 25, Shahjahan, who was working as a cutter foreman on the Floating Storage and Offloading (FSO) vessel LADINDA (IMO 7361269), owned by Indonesian shipping company EMP Malacca Strait SA, suffered a spine injury due to the fall of a big iron plate.

 

This series of accidents follows years of tragic deaths and injuries at Kabir’s yards. In 2020, three accidents took the lives of three workers and impaired another three. In 2021, out of five incidents at KSRM yards, one was fatal. Despite the repeated interventions of the Bangladesh Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments and the Ministry of Industries, which included a ban on operations and imports at one of the KSRM yards for four months,  Kabir’s management continues to put the lives of workers at risk.

 

The gate of one of Kabir Group's yards - © NGO Shipbreaking Platform

KSRM was already in the spotlight for its involvement in the infamous CMB case in 2016, which also hit British banking and financial services company Standard Chartered for having granted to Kabir letters of credit or loans for the import of end-of-life vessels. Kabir’s track record remains deplorable, and yet, according to local sources, Standard Charter’s involvement with Kabir has not been terminated.

"All corporations have an obligation to conduct human rights due diligence throughout their supply chain. KRSM’s repeated failure to protect its workers from the many risks involved in ship recycling has resulted in the death of six people and the impairment of at least another seven since 2020. It should be of utmost concern to any financial institution claiming to take Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues seriously to be associated with such appalling practices."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

In what seems to be a new worrying trend, several accidents are occurring on board offshore structures, such as Floating Storage and Offloading (FSO) and Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSOs) units. These vessels present additional risks for shipbreaking workers, mainly due to their complex design and the presence of highly toxic contaminants, including Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (NORM) and mercury. [1]

 

Since 2021, there have been ten accidents on offshore units beached in Bangladesh. One example is this year's above mentioned injury of Shahjahan on board the FSO LADINDA. Another one is the fatal accident that took place at Hm Ship Breaking Industry on the FSO G STAR (IMO 9118393), owned by the Thai company Nathalin.

"Vulnerable human beings are paying the price with their lives, whilst big corporations fill their pockets with money. Whilst weak regulations and poor law enforcement allow ship owners to choose the easiest and dirtiest way to dispose of their toxic waste on the beaches of South Asia, clean and safe solutions are already available at facilities that use slip ways, dry docks or floating docks. Companies like Shell and SBM Offshore, which have adopted an 'off the beach policy', show that doing the right thing is possible."
Nicola Mulinaris - Senior Communication and Policy Advisor - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

 

NOTES

[1] Read our Recycling Outlook report for more information on the decommissioning of FSOs and FPSOs.

 

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.

 

Platform News – SAVE THE DATE: Ship Recycling Lab on 20-21 September in Rotterdam

Recognising the need for visionary solutions for ship recycling, we are hosting our first Ship Recycling Lab: Transformation through Innovation on 20-21 September 2022 in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

 

The event will bring together forward-thinking stakeholders from the maritime, recycling and steel sectors, financial institutions and policy makers to showcase and exchange ideas for best practices and strategies for ship demolition, design, waste management and material recovery in line with ethical circular policy goals.

 

Providing visibility to companies that have developed solutions, including innovative cutting techniques, new state-of-the-art waste handling procedures, cradle to cradle concept design, and clean steel breakthrough technologies aimed at achieving a zero-carbon steel making process, the Lab intends to set the bar for tomorrow’s ship recycling. 

 

Come join us and 200+ progressive stakeholders for networking opportunities, inspiring keynote speaker sessions, thought-provoking presentations, interactive panel discussions, a photo exhibition from Bangladesh and a live performance at the iconic Kunsthal museum in the shipping hub of Rotterdam in September!

 

Register and buy your tickets now at www.shiprecyclinglab.org to get a €200 Early Bird Discount. 

Any questions? Contact us at events@shipbreakingplatform.org.
 

We encourage you to join the discussions on Twitter using the hashtag #SRLab. You can also follow the event organisers @ShipRecLab and @NGOShipbreaking.