Platform publishes South Asia Quarterly Update #15

There were a total of 206 ships broken in the first quarter of 2018. Of these, 152 ships were sold to the beaches of South Asia for dirty and dangerous breaking [1]. So far this year, 10 workers have lost their lives and 2 workers have been severely injured when breaking ships in Chittagong, Bangladesh. Another two workers were reported dead after an accident at a shipbreaking yard in Alang, India.

 

 

2018 has so far seen a high number of fatalities at the shipbreaking yards in South Asia. Platform sources have recorded 10 workers who have lost their lives and 2 who have been seriously injured at the shipbreaking yards in Chittagong. A fire on the South Korean Sinokor-owned PACIFIC CAPE broke out on 18 February at the Jamuna Shipbreaking yard, costing the life of a fitter man, Harun, and causing serious burn wounds to workers Moajjem and Johirul. The breaking of the tanker EKTA at Zuma Enterprise yard has been particularly hazardous: there, two fatalities have been recorded on two separate occasions. Fitter man Muhammad Khalil fell from great height while working on the EKTA on 31 March; and only three days ago, on 24 April, Shahidul Islam died when hit by a falling steel plate. According to industry sources, the EKTA was owned by the Greek company Anangel Group, and, in the last weeks prior to its breaking, the vessel was operated by Wirana, one of the world’s largest cash-buyers.

 

Also in Bangladesh this quarter, Abul Hossain died in RA Shipbreaking yard. However, the local police and the yard owner claim that the cause of death was a heart attack. Another worker, Borhan, died in Premium Trade Corporation shipbreaking yard – in this case the yard owner is claiming that the cause of death was a road accident. The ASTUTE, which was sold for breaking by shipping company Teekay, was beached at the Premium Trade Corporation yard at the time of the accident. Another Teekay ship, TINA, was beached at Kabir Steel when Azahar Molla died after falling from height. Abdul Mannan Juarder was hit by a falling steel plate at H.M. Steel Shipyard. Md. Babul fell down from the stairs when he was on top of a ship beached at M. A. Ship Breaking Ltd and got seriously injured – he was brought to hospital, where doctors announced his death. At the same yard, M. A. Ship Breaking Ltd, Shofiqul Islam died when he was hit by an iron piece. Worker Offil Rema died of burn wounds after a fire broke out in a tank at Khawja Shipbreaking yard.

 

On 28 April, on World Day for Safety and Health at Work, the Platform member organisations, OSHE and YPSA, are organising a demonstration in Chittagong to protest against the serious lack of safety measures at the shipbreaking yards and to denounce the particularly high accident rate at the yards so far this year. Demonstrations by the members will also be held on 1 May to mark International Labour Day.

 

There were victims in Indian shipbreaking yards this quarter too. The Times of India reported that two workers lost their lives due to a toxic gas leak on plot 32 on 14 March. Earlier that month it was reported that an accident happened on plot 7, where the tower of a rig crashed onto plot 9. The extent of damage and injuries caused is unknown. The lack of transparency on the conditions at the yards in Alang is disconcerting – no record of any accident is made publically available by the GMB, the local authority regulating the industry. The Platform has on several occasions called upon the industry and authorities to put on record every single accident which happens in the Alang shipbreaking yards. Injured and dead workers should never remain hidden and go forgotten.

 

Ship owners continue to sell their ships to the beaching yards despite the well documented deplorable conditions. The prices offered for ships this first quarter have been high in South Asia, especially when compared to the figures of last year. Whilst a South Asian beaching yard can pay about USD 450/LDT, Turkish and Chinese yards are respectively currently paying USD 280/LDT and USD 210/LDT. This situation led to especially a significant decrease in number of vessels recycled in China, where only 7 vessels were scrapped this quarter.

 

South Korean and UAE ship owners have sold the most ships to South Asian yards the first quarter of 2018 with 14 beached vessels each, followed by Greek and Russian owners. Shipping companies from the United States beached 5 vessels. South Korean Sinokor is, for now, the worst corporate dumper with seven vessels beached in South Asia in 2018. South Korean H-Line Shipping is a close runner-up, with five ships sold for dirty and dangerous scrapping on the beach. Following the ban on the import of tankers to Pakistan due to major explosions that occurred in 2016 and 2017, no tankers were sold to the Gadani yards this first quarter. However, Pakistan has re-opened to the import of tankers this week.

 

Only 3 ships had a European flag – Belgium, Italy and Norway – when they arrived on the beach. All ships sold to the beaching yards pass via the hands of scrap-dealers, also known as cash-buyers, that often re-register and re-flag the vessel on its last voyage. In this regard, flags of convenience, in particular those that are grey- and black-listed under the Paris MoU, are used by cash-buyers to send ships to the worst breaking locations. Almost half of the ships sold to South Asia this quarter changed flag to the grey- and black-listed registries of Comoros, Niue, Palau and St. Kitts and Nevis just weeks before hitting the beach. These flags are not typically used during the operational life of ships and offer ‘last voyage registration’ discounts. They are grey- and black-listed due to their poor implementation of international maritime law.

 

NOTE

 

[1] During the first quarter of 2018, the following number of vessels were broken in other locations: 27 in Turkey, 7 in China, 11 in Europe and 9 in the rest of the world.

 

Press Release – Platform publishes list of ships dismantled worldwide in 2017

European ship owners top the list of global dumpers: the EU must do more to reverse this scandal

 

According to new data released today by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, 835 large ocean-going commercial vessels were sold to the scrap yards in 2017. 543 were broken down – by hand – on the tidal beaches of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan: amounting to 80,3% of all tonnage dismantled globally.

"The figures of 2017 are a sad testimony of the shipping industry’s unwillingness to act responsibly. The reality is that yards with infrastructure fit for the heavy and hazardous industry that ship recycling is, and that can ensure safe working conditions and containment of pollutants, are not being used by ship owners. It is particularly shameful that so many European shipping companies scrap their vessels on beaches. Their obvious lack of interest to ensure that shipbreaking workers around the world enjoy best available technologies, and that the environment is equally protected everywhere, clearly calls for additional pressure from authorities, shipping clients and financers."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

The negative consequences of shipbreaking are real and felt by many. On the one hand, workers – often exploited migrants and some of them children – lose their life, suffer from injuries caused by fires, falling steel plates and the general unsafe working conditions, as well as from occupational diseases due to exposure to toxic fumes and materials. On the other hand, coastal ecosystems, and the local communities depending on them, are devastated by toxic spills and various pollutants leaking into the environment as a result of breaking vessels on beaches.

 

Despite the terrible accident that shook the international shipbreaking community in 2016, no lesson has been learned in Pakistan. In 2017, at least 10 workers lost their lives at the shipbreaking yards on the beach of Gadani. The Platform documented 15 deaths in the Bangladeshi yards last year, where also at least another 22 workers were seriously injured. Whilst international and local NGOs were repeatedly denied access to the Indian shipbreaking yards, the Platform was informed of at least eight fatal accidents in Alang in 2017.

 


DUMPERS 2017 - Worst practices

 

As in 2016, GERMANY and GREECE top the list of country dumpers in 2017. German owners, including banks and ship funds, beached 50 vessels out of a total of 53 sold for demolition. Greek owners were responsible for the highest absolute number of ships sold to South Asian shipbreaking yards in 2017: 51 ships in total. Since the Platform’s first compilation of data in 2009, Greek shipping companies have unceasingly topped the list of owners that opt for dirty and dangerous shipbreaking.

 

Despite increased pressure for safe and clean ship recycling from Norwegian investors and authorities, in 2017, the number of Norwegian-owned ships scrapped on the beach was on the rise: 16 ended up in Alang, Gadani and Chittagong. The attempted illegal export of the TIDE CARRIER to Pakistan was stopped by Norwegian authorities following an alert by the Platform.

 

In light of increased pressure from Scandinavian banks and investors, including Norwegian pension funds KLP and NBIM, and ongoing criminal investigations against the owners of TIDE CARRIER, Norwegian ship owners will have to ask themselves whether dirty profits are worth the reputational and financial risk that using beaching facilities now entails. Also, Danish container-giant Maersk will have an increasingly hard time justifying its U-turn back to the beach in Alang, as the yards there will not make it on the EU list of approved ship recycling facilities [1]”, comments Ingvild Jenssen.

 

The worst corporate dumper prize goes to Continental Investment Holdings (CIH), the Singapore-headquartered shipowning arm of Myanmar shipowner Captain U Ko Ko Htoo and parent company of Continental Shipping Line. The company, which is currently changing the composition of its fleet, sold 9 ships for breaking on the beaches in 2017. Four vessels ended up in Bangladesh, where in late December, during the demolition of CIH’s TAUNG GYI STAR, a worker died hit by a falling iron plate.

 

Ranked at second place, the container shipping giant Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) sold 7 vessels to Indian breakers. In the last nine years, MSC has profited from the sale of more than seventy ships for dirty and dangerous scrapping in Alang.

 

The Japanese owner Mitsui OSK Lines and the UK-based Zodiac Group follow closely with respectively 6 and 5 ships sold to South Asian yards. Zodiac received the worst dumper award in 2016 and sold 4 vessels to the yards in Chittagong despite being under scrutiny after a Bangladeshi worker sought compensation from the company for injuries incurred when breaking the EURUS LONDON.

 

Other known companies that in 2017 opted for substandard yards, rather than recycling their ships in a safe and clean manner, include: Hanjin Shipping, Hansa Mare Reederei, Peter Dohle Schiffahrts, Rickmers Reederei, Hansa Treuhand, Berge Bulk, Costamare, Quantum Pacific Group and Teekay. Teekay had promised to never sell to beaching yards again after a worker died breaking the ASPIRE in 2014 in Chittagong. That Berge Bulk was under the spotlight in December 2016, when it was feared that the Berge Stahl would end up on a beach, did not prevent the company from selling another 5 ships for dirty and dangerous breaking in 2017.


 

With the oil and gas sector seeing a downturn in the last couple of years, the Platform has documented an increase in offshore units that have gone for scrap. Out of the 91 units which have been identified as demolished in the last three years combined, 41 of them ended up on the beaches of South Asia after being towed for thousands of kilometers across the globe. Three floating platforms cold-stacked in Scotland that were sold by Diamond Offshore for scrap in 2017, allegedly to cash buyer GMS, were stopped from leaving following an alert by the Platform on their highly likely illegal export. “Fixed platforms cannot easily escape decommissioning rules, whereas we have seen that nearly half of all floating units slip under the radar and end up on beaches – this double standard has to stop”, states Francesca Carlsson, Corporate Liaison and Policy Officer of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform.

 

All vessels sold to the beaching yards pass through the hands of scrap dealers known as cash buyers. In this way, ship owners attempt to shield themselves from responsibility, and are paid upfront the highest market price in cash for their end-of-life vessels by the dealers. To reduce costs and to exploit the loopholes in international legislation, cash buyers will change a vessel’s flag to one of the typical last-voyage flags of convenience, such as Comoros, Palau and St Kitts and Nevis. Cash buyers will also register the vessel under a new name and a new post box company, rendering it very difficult for authorities to trace and hold cash buyers and ship owners accountable for illicit business practices.

"Ship-owning companies that stand by their corporate social responsibility directly sign contracts with ship recycling facilities they have inspected and found adequate. Choosing to sell a ship to a facility which is on the EU list of approved yards is the easiest way for a ship owner to be assured that there has been a quality check. Fortunately, it is becoming increasingly difficult for ship owners to simply blame the cash buyer: investors and authorities are expecting ship owners to control the choice of the recycling yard, and expect that choice to be a yard that does not endanger workers and the environment [2]."
Francesca Carlsson - Corporate Liaison and Policy Officer - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

For the list of all ships dismantled worldwide in 2017, click here.*/**
For detailed figures and analysis on ships dismantled in 2017, 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 22 February 2018 - Norwegian Tschudi Shipping Company AS informed us that two ships the company owned, the Hurricane I and the Hurricane II, had been sold to a buyer for continued operation in August 2016, one year before they ended up on South Asian beaches. Indeed, the buyer was the Indian registered company Hermes Maritime Services Pvt Ltd, which in 2017 purchased and sold several ships for breaking. Further research revealed that Hermes Maritime Services Pvt Ltd also buys tugboats near the end of their operational lives and manages these to tow vessels to the beaching yards, as was the case for the Hurricane vessels. The Platform has therefore updated the data and changed the ownership of these two vessels to the Indian-based Hermes Maritime Services Pvt]
[UPDATE 23 February 2018 - Italian K-Ships Srl informed us that one ship the company managed, the F1, had been sold to a buyer for continued operation in November 2013, four years before it ended up on a South Asian beach. The documentation provided by K-Ships shows that the Italian company is not linked to the end-of-life sale of the F1. The Platform has therefore rectified the data concerning the beneficial ownership of the vessel]

 

 

NOTES

 

[1] In 2018, the EU will publish a list of ship recycling facilities around the world that comply with high standards for environmental protection and workers’ safety. The list will be the first of its kind and an important reference point for sustainable ship recycling.

 

[2] The many scandals involving European shipping companies are also a driver behind the strong interest that various financial institutions have started to show in ship recycling: to ensure responsible business practices, some are now setting criteria for shipping companies they finance, while looking at the EU Ship Recycling Regulation for guidance.

 

Platform publishes South Asia Quarterly Update #14

There were a total of 227 ships broken in the third quarter of 2017. Of these, 124 ships ended up on beaches in South Asia for dirty and dangerous breaking [1]. Between July and September, one worker lost his life at a shipbreaking yard in Alang, India. Another worker was reported seriously injured in Chittagong, Bangladesh.
 

 

Due to the annual monsoon season, activities remained slow at the South Asian shipbreaking yards over the summer months. However, when the breaking took up again in September, one worker, Ashok Yadav, was reported killed whilst at work at shipbreaking plot no. 14 in Alang, India. Following his death, a letter denouncing the unsafe working conditions at the shipbreaking yards in Alang was sent to Indian Government officials by Toxics Watch Alliance. Around the same time, Md. Shohag – 21 years old – was seriously hurt while torch-cutting a vessel at Zuma Enterprise in Chittagong, Bangladesh, when an iron plate hit him on the left foot and stomach, causing severe injury.

 

It is not due to a lack of awareness concerning the dire working conditions that ship owners continue to favour the infamous beaching yards in South Asia. Rather, it is the fact that dirty and dangerous breaking brings in more money, as there is (1) little or no investments in proper infrastructure to contain pollutants and ensure safe working conditions; (2) the proper disposal of hazardous wastes is overlooked; and (3) migrant workers are exploited.

 

Moreover, the prices offered for ships this third quarter have been high in South Asia, especially when compared to the figures of the first half of the year. Monsoon rains caused a shortage of local product being available to the domestic steel mills and have, therefore, driven prices for end-of-life ships up. Whilst a South Asian beaching yard can pay about USD 400/LDT, Turkish yards are currently paying slightly less than the USD 250/LDT offered by Chinese yards.

 

Greek ship owners have, unsurprisingly, sold the most ships to the beaching yards with 11 beached vessels this quarter, followed by South Korea and Singapore with 6 vessels each. Shipping companies from the United States sold 5 vessels. Singaporean Continental Shipping Line remains the worst corporate dumper, though it currently shares this position with the Greek Anangel Shipping Enterprises and the Iranian Iran Shipping Lines. In total, these companies had three vessels each beached in South Asia in this quarter. Bermuda-based Berge Bulk, Greek Costamare, Swedish Holy House Shipping, and American SEACOR are close runner-up’s, with two ships each sold for dirty and dangerous scrapping on the beach. Brazilian-owned product tanker LOBATO, which was reportedly sold by Petrobras to Indian breakers, ended up on the muddy shores of Chittagong instead. Notably, no tanker was sold to the Gadani yards in Pakistan following the ban on tankers due to the major explosion on the ship ACES on the 1st of November of last year.

 

Although 33 out of the 124 beached vessels this quarter were European-controlled, only three of these had a European flag when they arrived on the beach. All ships sold to the beaching yards pass via the hands of scrap-dealers, also known as cash-buyers, that often re-register and re-flag the vessel on its last voyage. In this regard, flags of convenience, in particular those that are grey- and black-listed under the Paris MOU, are used by cash-buyers to send ships to the worst breaking locations. Almost half of the ships sold to South Asia this quarter changed flag to the grey- and black-listed registries of Comoros, Niue, Palau, St. Kitts & Nevis, and Togo just weeks before hitting the beach. These flags are not typically used during the operational life of ships and offer ‘last voyage registration’ discounts. Importantly, they are grey- and black-listed due to their poor implementation of international maritime law.

 

Efforts to counter the shipping industry’s crave for cash at the detriment of workers and the environment in South Asia are being brought to the attention of enforcement authorities and Courts. In Bangladesh, the Platform has been successful in taking legal action to halt the breaking of the FPSO North Sea Producer, which was illegally exported from the UK in 2016. Moreover, German authorities have been asked by the Platform to hold ACL, a subsidiary of Italian Grimaldi Group, liable for the illegal export of two ships, the Cartier and the Conveyor, to India.

 

NOTE

 

[1] During the third quarter of 2017, the following number of vessels were broken in other locations: 42 in Turkey, 35 in China, and 26 in the rest of the world.

 

Platform publishes South Asia Quarterly Update #13

There were a total of 210 ships broken in the second quarter of 2017. 158 of these ships ended up on South Asian beaches for dirty and dangerous breaking [1]. The Platform was able to document five accidents at the shipbreaking yards in Chittagong, Bangladesh, between April and June, which led to the death of four workers and the injury of two.

 

Ishaq worked as a winch operator and died struck by a cable at the BBC Steel Shipbreaking/KR yard. This is the second fatal accident this year at BBC Steel. Zishan died in an accident at the Ratanpur Steel Re-Rolling mills where iron plates from the ships are transformed for the construction industry. In Jamuna Shipbreaking yard, the Platform reported in Mayabout the death of Shahinoor who fell from the Hanjin Rome, the first ship arrested after the bankruptcy of the Korean container giant Hanjin Shipping. This ship was sold on auction by the Singaporean courts following the bankruptcy of Hanjin Shipping and should be a harrowing wake-up call to courts and bankruptcy administrators that there are human consequences of selling ships for the highest return price to the beaches. During a nightshift on 21 May, Shochindro Das died when he was hit by an iron pipe. He was working as a cutter helper in the Khawja yard, which shares owner with Kabir Steel. Working during night shift without protective equipment are particularly graving circumstances that sadly witness of the extremely harsh conditions workers face at the shipbreaking yards in Chittagong. Local sources are claiming that Shochindro Das was only 15 years old, whilst the officially reported age was 26. The Platform will investigate these serious allegations. Child labour at the Bangladesh shipbreaking yards is illegal under Bangladesh law and also under the ILO’s Convention on Worst Forms of Child Labour.

 

The worst dumping country this quarter was Germany with 16 beached ships, a consequence of the multiple bankruptcies due to the toxic financing that has been characteristic of the German shipping industry. In June, German public television channel ARD documented the appalling conditions under which German ships are broken in Bangladesh. The other leading dumping nations were Singapore with 12 ships, Greece with 9, and South Korea with 8. Though 45 out of the 158 beached vessels this quarter were European-controlled, only four of these had a European flag.

 

Legislation at the international and European level to regulate the disposal of ships is based on flag state jurisdiction. The flags of the worst dumping countries were however rarely or not used at end-of-life. Flags of convenience, in particular the grey- and black-listed ones under the Paris MOU, are used by cash buyers and ship owners to send ships to the worst breaking locations. Nearly a third (49) of all the ships sent to South Asia this quarter changed flag to typical end-of-life registries only weeks before hitting the beaches: St Kitts & Nevis, Comoros, Palau, Djibouti, Niue and Togo. These flags are not typically used during the operational life of ships and offer ‘last voyage registration’ discounts. They are grey and black-listed due to their poor implementation of international maritime law.

 

There were five cases where the ships in question were sent to South Asia in breach of the EU Waste Shipment Regulation [2]. In Bangladesh, the Platform was successful in taking legal action to halt the breaking of the FPSO North Sea Producerwhich was illegally exported from the UK in 2016. The Platform also alerted this quarter the Brazilian government of several vessels exported to the beaching yards from Brazil in clear breach of UNEP’s Basel Convention.

 

The worst company was the Singaporean Continental Shipping Line that had six Liberian-flagged vessels that all changed flag to St Kitts & Nevis or Comoros and were beached in South Asia. Quantum Pacific is a close runner-up on second place for worst dumping practices, with four ships sold to Pakistan and Bangladesh. Quantum, owned by Idan Ofer, son of the late shipping mogul Sammy Ofer, has been under the Platform’s radar before as the worst dumper of 2015. The worst dumper of 2016 was UK-based Zodiac Maritime, run by Idan’s brother, Eyal Ofer.

 

The figures of this quarter not only show how legislation based on flag state jurisdiction will fail in changing the deplorable shipbreaking practices of the shipping industry, they also show that companies such as Quantum and Zodiac have no shame in continuing to exploit vulnerable workers in South Asia for the sake of extra profits.

 

 

NOTES

 

[1] During the second quarter 2017, the following number of vessels were broken in other locations: 26 in Turkey, 22 in China, and 4 in the rest of the world.

 

[2] German Gebab Konzeptions- und Treuhandgesellschaft mbH & Company KG owned GURU; Chilean Naviera Ultranav Limitada owned HAPPY FELLOW; US based Diamond Offshore Drilling Incorporated owned SPUR; Romanian S.C. Grup Servicii Petroliere S.A. owned FALCON; and Italian Argo S.r.l. owned ALICA.

 

Platform News – NGO Shipbreaking Platform presents Annual Report 2016

The NGO Shipbreaking Platform presents its Annual Report 2016.

 

Last year, at least 52 workers lost their lives on the shipbreaking beaches in South Asia. The worst explosion in the history of shipbreaking struck an oil tanker beached in Gadani, Pakistan, killing 28 workers and injuring more than 60. The NGO Shipbreaking Platform is working to ensure that shipping companies sell their obsolete vessels to safe, clean and just recycling facilities. Thanks, in no small part, to the continued efforts of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform and its member organisations, concerned policy makers and industry with a stake in shipping are increasingly echoing this demand. Check the new Annual Report to find out more about global shipbreaking practices and the NGO Shipbreaking Platform's activities in 2016.

 

Support our work to prevent the human rights abuses and environmental injustice provoked when ships are traded to dirty and dangerous breaking yards! Share this publication.

 

Download the Platform’s Annual Report 2015 here, or send us an email to order a hard copy.

 

 

Platform publishes South Asia Quarterly Update #12

128 ships were sold for scrap to the South Asian beaches in the first quarter of 2017 [1]. Eleven workers were killed and at least four additional workers were injured whilst cutting down the vessels manually on the tidal beaches of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Beaching yards offer cheap, but dangerous and polluting scrapping. Ship owners have been aware of the detrimental effects of breaking ships on tidal beaches for more than 20 years, yet the ease with which existing environmental laws can be circumvented for the sake of the extra profit the shipping industry makes by selling to the beach yards allows the worst practices to persist.

 

In Gadani, Pakistan, yet another tragedy caused the death of shipbreaking workers. After the major explosion on the tanker ACES on 1 November 2016, another fire broke out on a Greek owned LPG tanker, GAZ FOUNTAIN. The fire claimed five lives and seriously injured one worker. The tanker had already caught fire in December 2016, only one month after the explosion which claimed at least 28 workers’ lives on the spot. Another worker was killed in a separate accident, when a lifeboat crashed down from the UK based Zodiac owned SNOWDON. Clearly not enough has been done in Gadani to ensure even the basic security for workers. Despite these recent disasters, ship owners and cash buyers continue to trade vessels with Pakistan breakers - this quarter 22 ships were sold for breaking at one of the world’s most dangerous places to work.

 

37 ships were sold to the Chittagong breaking yards. As many as six accidents struck the industry the first months of 2017 killing three workers and seriously injuring another three. Mohammed Azam was fatally crushed by a falling steel plate at Seiko Steel shipbreaking yard – mentioned before by the Platform in connection to other fatal accidents – during the breaking of the Belgian CMB owned BULL HUNTER. Two fatal accidents happened at BBC Shipbreaking/KR yard: Rongchang Tripura passed away after falling from the German-owned GRENADA; and Shaheb Mia was crushed by a falling steel plate during the cutting of the SALZGITTER. Bangladesh continues to be the breaking destination where severe and fatal accidents happen most frequently, yet this has not been a deterrent for most shipowners and cash buyers to sell their ships to for breaking.

 

The Alang beach in India was by far the most popular destination for end-of-life ships this quarter, with 69 ships sold for breaking. The yards in Alang have recently been portraying their practices as improved compared to Bangladesh and Pakistan, but the overall unnecessarily risky conditions of breaking ships on tidal beaches remains. Serious accidents were reported in Alang this quarter, resulting in at least two fatalities. On 4 March a worker died when a crane collapsed. There were rumours of another worker dying after falling from great heights two weeks later, but this could not be confirmed. On 16 March there was a fatal accident in a steel cutting workshop called Sohil Oxygen Co, whose owner is also owner of the Lucky Steel Industries, which is part of the Lucky Group chosen by Maersk to break its ships in Alang. The businesses in the area and the Gujarat Maritime Board remain unwilling to share accident records, and information on what actually happened to those workers who died was clouded by the defensive messaging of the industry in the media. The lack of transparency in Alang remains a serious concern, as does the fact that there is no hospital in Alang. Ships in Alang are taken apart in tidal waters using a method that is banned in Europe, the US and China and that makes it impossible to ensure rapid access for emergency vehicles and containment of pollutants such as oils and toxic paints.

 

European companies accounted for half of the vessels beached in South Asia the first quarter and where involved in many of the fatal accidents that took place in this poorly regulated industry. For the first time, German owners topped the list with 26 ships sold to South Asian breakers, followed by Greek owners with 17 beached end-of-life vessels. German ship owners, Hansa Mare Reederei GmbH & Company KG and Peter Döhle Schiffahrts-KG, top the list of the worst dumpers this quarter with each having beached five end-of-life ships.

 

Whilst grey- and black listed flags, such as Comoros, Palau and St Kitts and Nevis, continue to be particularly popular for end-of-life ships, also ships registered under the flags Malta and Cyprus ended up on the beaches. The EU Regulation on Ship Recycling will prohibit the dismantling of EU-flagged ships in substandard yards such as those in Alang, Gadani and Chittagong. However, by simply swapping flag to that of a non-EU country before selling the ship for scrap, ship owners can easily circumvent EU law. Indeed, scrap dealers, such as cash buyers GMS and Wirana, will assist them in doing just that. The re-flagging before scrapping is a common practice and the Platform identified 38 ships, including two Malta flagged ships and one Madeira flagged ship, that changed their flag last quarter just weeks before hitting the beach.

 

While the EU is trying to redress the shipping industry’s addiction to beaching with the Ship Recycling Regulation, we have seen that European ship owners continue to opt for the worst breaking yards, resulting in the death of workers and pollution of sensitive coastal zones. European ship owners will continue to profit from the worst forms of the business unless the EU develops a financial incentive to curb the re-flagging of the vessels to circumvent the legislation in place.

 

 

 

 

NOTE

 

[1] 196 ships were sold in total the first quarter of 2017, meaning that 65%, ended up on beaches in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. 51 of the beached vessels were container ships. The other main shipbreaking destinations, Turkey and China, received 36 and 28 vessels respectively. 4 ships were destined for recycling in other locations outside the main 5 breaking nations.

 

Press Release – Platform publishes list of ships dismantled worldwide in 2016

European ship owners top the list of global dumpers: the EU must do more to reverse this scandal

 

Read our country-specific press releases:
Brazil | Germany | Greece | Italy

 

The list of all ships dismantled around the world in 2016, which the NGO Shipbreaking Platform has compiled and analysed, shows no improvements of the shipping industry’s management of its end-of-life vessels. Far from it: the Platform today releases data that indicate an increase in the number of ships sold for polluting and unsafe shipbreaking on the beaches of South Asia. In 2016, a total of 668 vessels were broken on tidal beaches, that is as much as 87% of all tonnage dismantled globally.

"The shipping industry is nowhere close to ensuring sustainable ship recycling practices. Last year, we saw not only an increase in the market share for dangerous and dirty shipbreaking, but also a record-breaking number of EU-owned vessels on the South Asian beaches. A jaw-dropping 84% of all European end-of-life ships ended up in either India, Pakistan or Bangladesh. Beaching yards are not only well known for their failure to respect international environmental protection standards, but also for their disrespect of fundamental labour rights and international waste trade law."
Patrizia Heidegger - Executive Director - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

A higher number of ships beached means that workers, the environment and local communities in South Asia are exposed to ever increased hardship. 2016 saw the worst catastrophe in the history of the industry: on 1 November, at least 28 workers were killed instantly and more than 50 injured when an explosion and a massive fire shook a tanker beached in Gadani, Pakistan. The death toll in the Bangladeshi yards, which the Platform was able to document, reached 22 in 2016, with another 29 workers having suffered serious injuries. Whilst accident records in Indian shipbreaking yards are kept a secret, the Platform was informed of at least two fatal deaths in Alang.

 


DUMPERS 2016 - Worst practices

 

The worst dumper prize goes to IDAN OFER, son of shipping magnate Sammy Ofer. Idan Ofer owns QUANTUM PACIFIC GROUP and has a controlling stake in It may seem a big surprise for a country whose industry is proud of green technology and engineering solutions, but GERMANY is responsible for the worst shipbreaking practices amongst all shipping nations when one compares the size of its fleet to the number of ships broken irresponsibly. German owners, banks and ship funds had a staggering 97 ships rammed up on the beaches of South Asia out of a total of 99 vessels sold for demolition: 98% of all obsolete German ships ended up on a beach! That not being enough, close to 40% were broken in Bangladesh, where conditions are known to be the worst. Amongst the most irresponsible owners are Hansa Mare with 12 ships, Alpha Ship, F. Laeisz and Peter Doehle with 7 each, and Dr. Peters, König & Cie, Norddeutsche Vermögen and Rickmers with 6 each.

 

The German shipbreaking practices come with a high death toll. During the breaking period of the RENATE N. at Seiko shipbreaking in Chittagong, Bangladesh, three workers were killed and three more injured (see “Accidents” in the Platform’s South Asia Quarterly Update). The vessel owned by Neu Seeschifffahrt had been traded through cash buyer Wirana. Even the UN Special Rapporteur on Toxics and Human Rights expressed serious concerns in a submission to the German Government, criticizing the substandard practices of German owners. In November, another Bangladeshi worker was killed during the demolition of the only 10 year-old, loss-making container ship VIKOTRIA WULFF.

 

“It is not the first time that shipbreaking workers pay with their lives for the failed business practices of German ship owners and their ship funds. Due to numerous bankruptcies resulting from short-sighted and high-risk investment, insolvency administrators appointed by the courts quickly trade the unprofitable ships to the beaches of South Asia, and the bill for the shipping industry’s greed is paid by people and the environment”, comments Patrizia Heidegger.

 

GREECE was responsible for the highest absolute number of ships sold to South Asian shipbreaking yards in 2016: 104 ships in total. Since the Platform has started to compile data in 2009, Greek shipping companies have unceasingly topped the list of owners that opt for dirty and dangerous shipbreaking. Backed by the Greek government, they continue to refuse liability for the damage done to workers and the environment. A Greek ship beached in Pakistan in December 2016 caused the death of five workers in January when a fire broke out on the GAZ FOUNTAIN owned by Athens-based Naftomar.

 

The worst corporate dumper prize goes to the UK-based ZODIAC. The company is operated out of London and owned by Eyal Ofer, son of late shipping magnate Sammy Ofer. Zodiac alone has sold 12 ships for breaking on the beaches in 2016, mostly to Bangladesh, and the company has been linked to severe accidents. During the demolition of Ofer’s ship SNOWDON, beached in Pakistan in October, a worker was killed in January this year. Eyal’s brother Idan, owner of the QUANTUM PACIFIC GROUP and holder of a controlling stake in the ISRAEL CORPORATION, received the worst dumper award in 2015 for selling most of his end-of-life vessels to Bangladesh breakers – a more than dubious practice for a family that wants to be known for its philanthropy.


 

"It is scandalous that the burden to deal with Europe’s profit-greedy shipbuilding boom is shifted to communities and workers in South Asia: first the shipping industry creates a large overcapacity on the market, and then it fails to find responsible solutions for its obsolete ships."
Patrizia Heidegger - Executive Director - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

In 2016, also Maersk decided to take a U-turn on its previously progressive ship recycling policy: the Danish container ship giant decided to go back to the shipbreaking beaches of India where it is offered higher prices for its unwanted ships. Being one of the catalysts of the overcapacity on the shipping market itself, Maersk has to get rid of 75 – 100 ships in the coming years.

"This move to boost profits does not only help to rubberstamp the beaching method, but, very regrettably, it is also stalling real progress and innovation in India to move ship recycling to the next level – off the beach – to modern ship recycling facilities."
Patrizia Heidegger - Executive Director - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Ship owners sell their vessels to South Asian yards via cash-buyers, companies that specialise in the trade of end-of-life tonnage. Cash-buyers promise ship owners not only the highest price, but also to rid them of their responsibility to properly deal with the end-of-life management of their ships. [2] Ships contain large amounts of toxic materials such as oil sludge, asbestos and paints laden with heavy metals and would yield less profit at end-of-life if sold to a recycling facility that firmly follows environmental and occupational health and safety standards.

 

The data compiled by the Platform also show that ship owners continue to shield themselves from responsibility through the use of cash buyers such as GMS and Wirana. These scrap dealers reflag end-of-life vessels to last-voyage flags of convenience, such as Palau, Comoros and St Kitts and Nevis, and sell them off for the highest price offered by the worst yards.

"Looking at the flags used at end-of-life, it is clear that legislation based on flag state jurisdiction will not be able to bring substantial change to the current practices: who believes that a non-compliant flag and a cash buyer benefitting from the worst conditions will enforce improvements in shipbreaking yards? The global shipbreaking crisis can only be solved through measures that go beyond flag state jurisdiction. That is why we call on the EU to demand a ship recycling licence from all vessels visiting EU ports."
Ingvild Jenssen - Policy Director - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

In 2017, the EU will publish a list of ship recycling facilities around the world that comply with high standards for environmental protection and workers’ safety. The list will be the first of its kind and an important reference point for sustainable ship recycling. German container line Hapag-Lloyd has already committed its end-of-life ships off the beach, and has announced that it will only use EU listed facilities. A financial incentive affecting ships trading with the EU is however needed to ensure that irresponsible ship owners are directed towards the facilities listed as approved by the EU. A proposed Ship Recycling Licence scheme is now being discussed. The many scandals involving European shipping companies are also a driver behind the strong interest that various financial institutions have started to show in ship recycling: to ensure responsible business practices some are now setting criteria for shipping companies they finance while looking at the EU Ship Recycling Regulation for guidance.

 

For the list of all ships dismantled worldwide in 2016, click here.
For detailed figures and analysis on ships dismantled in 2016, click here.
For background information on global ship dismantling practices, click here.

 

 

 

Platform News – ‘With Bare Hands’: an immersive journey into the problems of shipbreaking

International media outlets publish 'With bare hands', the first multimedia and data-driven reporting project that documents the negative impacts on the environment and the human costs of shipbreaking in South Asia. Spanish daily newspaper El Pais and international news channel Al Jazeera are the first to make this reporting available.

 

Isacco Chiaf, graphic designer, and Tomaso Clavarino, journalist and photographer, are behind this outstanding project, which was funded by the European Journalism Centre. The two Italians travelled to Bangladesh and India, where dirty and dangerous scrapping is conducted on the tidal beaches of Chittagong and Alang. With texts, infographics, videos, photo-essays, interviews and maps, they have been able to show how shipbreaking activities are contributing to the destruction of the ecosystem and negatively affecting the lives of thousands of people.

 

"What impressed me the most during the days spent in Bangladesh and India, besides the extremely inhuman working conditions and evident pollution, was the difficulty to access this industry. Armed guards were securing the entry to the yards and our every move was tracked. The local police is clearly enmeshed with the ship breakers that don’t want their business practices revealed. That journalists and photographers are not welcome was clearly communicated. We still managed to penetrate this extremely closed industry – and the devastating stories we documented cannot be ignored."
Tomaso Clavarino - Journalist and Photographer

The multimedia platform highlights the issues of child labour, environmental pollution and lack of healthy and safe working and living conditions. Maps and graphs, based on the NGO Shipbreaking Platform’s data, focus on the practices of the shipping industry such as the use of flags of convenience and cases of illegal trafficking. Interviews with Patrizia Heidegger, the Platform’s executive director, and Muhammed Ali (Shahin), the Platform’s coordinator in Bangladesh, are also featured.

 

Platform publishes South Asia Quarterly Update #11

The NGO Shipbreaking Platform publishes today the eleventh South Asia Quarterly Update, a briefing paper in which it informs about the shipbreaking industry in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. Providing an overview of vessels broken on the beaches of South Asia, accidents, recent on-the-ground, legislative and political developments including our activities in South Asia we aim to inform the public about the negative impacts of substandard shipbreaking practices as well as positive steps aimed at the realisation of environmental justice and the protection of workers’ rights.

 

In this edition you will find out more about the catastrophic explosion that occurred in Pakistan in November and other tragic accidents in both the Bangladeshi and Indian ship breaking yards, our follow up of the North Sea Producer case as well as the ongoing investigations on the Pakistani blast. Last but not least, watch the video featuring our South Asian members who were interviewed in June by the European Economic and Social Committee.

 

Platform publishes South Asia Quarterly Update #10

The NGO Shipbreaking Platform publishes today the tenth South Asia Quarterly Update, a briefing paper in which it informs about the shipbreaking industry in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. Providing an overview of vessels broken on the beaches of South Asia, accidents, recent on-the-ground, legislative and political developments including our activities in South Asia we aim to inform the public about the negative impacts of substandard shipbreaking practices as well as positive steps aimed at the realisation of environmental justice and the protection of workers’ rights.

 

In this edition you will find out more about a dramatic surge of fatal accidents in the Bangladesh shipbreaking yards in May-June and the case study of young worker Mominul who was crippled while breaking European ships, our follow up of the Kabir Steel case with businesses in the yard's value chain as well as the UN Special Rapporteur's critique of German shipbreaking practices in substandard beaching yards. Last but not least, read our reaction to ECSA's so-called fact-finding report on their visit to the Alang shipbreaking yards.