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

 

 

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 – Platform publishes list of ships dismantled worldwide in 2021

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

NOTE

 

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

Chattogram, Bangladesh - © NGO Shipbreaking Platform - 2021

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Press Release – 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.

 

 

Platform News – Platform’s member organisation LIFE wins 2021 Right Livelihood Award

We are pleased to announce that our Indian member organisation Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE) has been awarded the 2021 Right Livelihood Award, also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize. LIFE was honoured for its innovative legal work empowering communities to protect their resources in the pursuit of environmental democracy in India.

 

Pushed by the lack of judicial access regarding environmental issues in India, Ritwick Dutta and Rahul Choudhary founded LIFE in New Delhi back in 2005. The organisation’s mission is to support environmental democracy by focusing on access to information and justice, and by promoting public participation fighting alongside communities and grassroots movements. The organisation has obtained milestone decisions in the Indian Courts with regards to numerous environmental issues. 

 

Inter alia, Ritwick and his team have been fighting against the environmental threat that shipbreaking represents to the coastal environment in the state of Gujarat. LIFE has been legally challenging the beaching method based on Indian environmental law, advocating for safe and environmentally sound ship recycling. Ritwick is a member of the Platform’s Board of Directors.

"The Award will help us increase the impact of our work, empowering more people to protect nature and livelihoods."
Ritwick Dutta - Managing Trustee - LIFE

The Right Livelihood community yearly rewards courageous change-makers by recognizing their efforts in making the world a more peaceful and sustainable place. The 2021 Award was also granted to Marthe Wandou for enhancing the rights of women and girls in Cameroon, to Vladimir Slivyak for connecting and empowering local communities in Russia concerning environmental issues related to fossil-fuel and radioactive waste, and to Freda Huson for her work in defending Indigenous culture and nature in Canada.