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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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.

 

Platform News – Platform launches fundraising campaign for afflicted workers

More than 70 percent of end-of-life vessels end up in South Asia, where they are broken down under rudimentary conditions on the beaches of Alang-Sosiya in India, Chattogram in Bangladesh, and Gadani in Pakistan - a practice known as ‘beaching’. The human and environmental impacts of the shipbreaking industry are devastating. The industry is even considered by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as one of the most dangerous jobs in the world.

 

Shipbreaking workers, often exploited migrants, lose their lives on accidents or suffer severe injuries, such as burns, amputations and serious spinal injuries, due to unsafe working conditions. The shipbreaking workers are also vulnerable to occupational diseases due to the exposure to toxic substances embedded within the ships’ structures, including asbestos, PCBs and heavy metals. Asbestos is one of the most common and most hazardous materials found onboard ships. When extracted, it breaks into fine fibres, which can be suspended in the air for long periods of time. If inhaled, the fibres can lead to fatal diseases such as lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis.

 

Since 2009, around 7000 ships were beached in South Asia with a recorded data of 425 deaths and 329 injuries. The figures on accidents are likely to be much higher, and occupational diseases are not even registered in these statistics and are difficult to monitor.

 

We are now calling for your support to help injured workers and asbestos victims in Bangladesh. Check out our fundraising campaign for more information by clicking here or on the image below.

"Your support today can bring a big change in the lives of afflicted shipbreaking workers in Chattogram. It can also contribute to raising awareness about the shameful scrapping practices that constantly cause irreversible human and environmental harm on South Asian shores."
Sara Costa - Project Officer - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

Platform News – Protecting watchdogs across the EU: proposal for an EU anti-SLAPP law

A coalition of non-governmental organisations from across Europe has been working over the past years to raise awareness and urge policy makers to protect public interest watchdogs such as journalists, rights defenders, activists and whistleblowers from Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs).

 

SLAPP suits are a form of legal harassment. Pursued by law firms on behalf of powerful individuals, companies and organisations who seek to avoid public scrutiny, their aim is to drain the target’s financial and psychological resources and deter critical voices to the detriment of public participation. Numerous individuals and organisations have in recent years increasingly been targeted via SLAPPs, including the NGO Shipbreaking Platform itself, two of its member organisations as well as individual staff and Board Members, for having revealed illegal waste exports. 

 

Currently, no EU country has enacted targeted rules that specifically shield against SLAPP suits. EU-wide rules providing for strong and consistent protection against SLAPP suits would mark a crucial step forward towards ending this abusive practice in EU Member States and serve as a benchmark for countries in the rest of Europe and beyond. Together with other legislative and non-legislative measures, it would contribute to secure a safer environment for public watchdogs and public participation in the EU.

 

This is why the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, together with other civil society organisations, has engaged a wide range of experts including academics, lawyers, practitioners, SLAPP targets and policy and advocacy specialists, to look into the value added, the feasibility and the key components of possible EU anti-SLAPP legislation.

 

The result of this collaborative work is a model EU anti-SLAPP law proposing a set of rules which, if in place, would make sure that in each EU country SLAPPs are dismissed at an early stage of proceedings, SLAPP litigants pay for abusing the law and the courts, and SLAPP targets are given means and assistance to defend themselves.

 

As democracy and the rule of law come increasingly under pressure in a number of EU countries, this paper supports the call on EU policy makers by the undersigned organisations to urgently put forward an EU anti-SLAPP Directive to protect public watchdogs that help hold the powerful to account and keep the democratic debate alive.

 

Read our anti-SLAPP directive model here.

 

 

 

Platform News – Platform welcomes new Indonesian partner organisation

The NGO Shipbreaking Platform, a coalition of environmental, human rights and labour rights organisations, welcomes the Nexus Foundation for Environmental, Health, and Development, also known as Nexus3 Foundation, as new partner organisation. 

 

The Nexus3 Foundation (f.k.a. BaliFokus Foundation) is based in Indonesia. The organisation works to safeguard both the public, especially vulnerable populations, and the environment from the negative impacts of global development, promoting a just, toxic-free, and sustainable future. Its goals are i) to support reducing and eliminating the world’s most hazardous chemicals, ii) to halt the spread of toxic metals, iii) to strengthen Indonesian chemical and wastes management policies, and iv) to enhance institutional capacity to enable communities and civil society organisations in Indonesia to promote safer chemicals and waste management. 

"It is good now to be part of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, after having been engaged with some of its members on cross-campaigns for a number of years. We look forward to join forces and shed light on Indonesian dangerous shipbreaking practices and transboundary movements of hazardous waste by ships."
Yuyun Ismawati Drwiega - Senior Advisor and Co-founder - Nexus3 Foundation

Every year, numerous toxic ships and oil and gas wastes are illegally exported from Indonesian ports to the infamous shipbreaking beaches of South Asia. Recently, local activists and international NGOs warned Indonesian authorities about the illegal departure of several mercury-laden tankers, such as the FPSO Yetagun and the FSO J NAT. Oil sludge residues from the processing of crude oil extracted in the East-Asia region commonly contain mercury, which ends up contaminating the offshore units’ structures, tanks and piping. 

 

Exposure to mercury, even at low levels, has been linked to central nervous system damage, kidney and liver impairment, reproductive and development disorders, defects in fetuses and learning deficits. When heated up by simple methods such as sand blasting, water blasting, grinding and gas axing, extremely toxic mercury vapors are released, bypassing most commercial personal protection equipment (PPE). The toxicity of the vessels that are illegally exported from Indonesia is, however, not the only concern. In fact, media investigations also revealed appalling social and environmental conditions at small scrapping yards located in the country.

 

Shipbreaking in Cilincing, Jakarta - © Yudha Baskoro 2018
Shipbreaking in Cilincing, Jakarta - © Yudha Baskoro 2018
"Together with our new partners at the Nexus3 Foundation, we will keep raising awareness on the numerous illegal exports of toxics ships from Indonesia. We will also focus our attention on the appalling labour and environmental conditions at the domestic shipbreaking yards, to make sure the workers and the environment are fully protected."
Nicola Mulinaris - Communication and Policy Officer - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Platform News – NGO Shipbreaking Platform awarded grant by Royal Academy of Engineering and Lloyd’s Register Foundation

We are pleased to announce that we have been awarded a grant by the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Lloyd's Register Foundation under the international collaboration Engineering X - Safer End of Engineered Life Mission. The grant will support a project, in partnership with our member organisation Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers’ Association (BELA), that aims at increasing public awareness of the current shipbreaking practices on the beaches of South Asia, including workers’ rights in Bangladesh, as well as at pushing for an industry shift towards truly sustainable practices.

"We thank the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Lloyd's Register Foundation for the support. This award will strengthen our work at national level for increased transparency and business accountability in the shipbreaking sector and for protection of the labourers from occupational hazards."
Syeda Rizwana Hasan - Supreme Court lawyer and Director of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association

Engineering X has awarded nearly £1 million in grants to six projects in the UK and overseas aimed at tackling the complex social, environmental and engineering challenges of decommissioning ships and offshore structures. The Platform features as partner also in another project led by the University of Southampton.

 

With a broad base of supporters both in orientation and geographically, including membership in ship owning as well as shipbreaking countries, the Platform plays an important role in promoting solutions that encompass the respect of human rights, corporate responsibility and environmental justice. If you share our vision, contact us to find out how we can work together.

 

Platform News – Platform’s member BELA awarded the 2020 Tang Prize

We are pleased to announce that the NGO Shipbreaking Platform’s member organisation Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) has been awarded the prestigious 2020 Tang Prize in Rule of Law for its exemplary perseverance in promoting greater environmental justice, in milieus where the foundations of the rule of law are under severe challenge.

 

Established in 1992 by Dr. Mohiuddin Farooque, BELA promotes environmental justice and has secured sound environmental jurisprudence in Bangladesh through public interest litigation, advocacy, research and publications, as well as capacity-building for actors in the public sector and civil society.

 

Ever since the first case, Dr. Mohiuddin Farooque v. Bangladesh & Others in 1994, BELA has initiated more than 250 public interest litigations and advocated for legislative reform for environmental justice. Issues drawn within its ambit have ranged as widely as river pollution, industrial pollution, vehicular pollution, illegal construction, labour welfare, illegal mining, prevention of soil erosion, reduction of plastic use, wetland protection and prevention of pollution from shipbreaking. The latter was the focus of a recent ground-breaking judgement given by the High Court Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh in a public interest litigation filed by  BELA.

 

By persuading the courts to recognise its standing to instigate a case on behalf of people affected by environmental degradation, BELA successfully opened the path for public interest litigation. BELA also moved the courts to extend the fundamental right to life to cover the right to a decent environment under the Constitution.

 

The Tang Prize is a set of biennial international awards bestowed by  the Taiwanese Tang Prize Foundation in four fields: Sustainable Development, Biopharmaceutical Science, Sinology, and Rule of Law. The 2020 Tang Prize in Rule of Law,  was also awarded to Colombian Dejusticia: The Center for Law, Justice and Society and Lebanese The Legal Agenda.

 

Platform News – NGO Shipbreaking Platform presents Impact Report 2018/2019

These past two years the Platform has won support for sustainable ship recycling in the financial sector while raising the stakes for ship owners who opt for substandard shipbreaking on South Asian beaches. Effectively exposing the conditions behind the greenwash of the Indian yards, while our member organisations empowered workers in Bangladesh, we were thrilled last year to see new laws enter into force that will deter ship owners from dangerous scrapping in favour of sustainable ship recycling.

 

Thanks to the support of our funders, Board of Directors, Members, Partners and individuals that have backed our work in 2018/2019 and beyond, we have been able to reach some of the important milestones of our campaign!

 

As we move forward, the Platform has an important role to play in promoting solutions that encompass the respect of human rights, corporate responsibility and environmental justice. To ensure that safe and clean ship recycling becomes the norm, and not the exception, the Platform will continue to inform policy makers, financial and corporate leaders, as well as researchers and journalists. Change in shipbreaking will come through leadership, incentives and accountability.

 

We remain optimistic in this challenging time, and, more than ever, we are committed to working with vulnerable workers and communities to reverse the environmental harm and human rights abuses caused by current shipbreaking practices. Will you join us? We need your support to fulfil our mission!

 

Download the Platform’s Impact Report 2018/2019 here or by clicking the image above.