Platform News – NGOs distribute emergency food to shipbreaking workers in Bangladesh

The current COVID-19 pandemic is affecting workers globally, including those employed in the shipbreaking sector. In Bangladesh, authorities have imposed strict lockdowns which have particularly impacted the most vulnerable part of the workforce: the migrant workers. Deprived of accessing the meagre government support which is offered to local workers, and in most cases not having been paid their March salaries, migrant workers have furthermore been unable to return to their home villages as all public transport is closed. Forced to continue to pay rent for the unsanitary and improper accommodation near the shipbreaking yards, the migrant workers, mainly from the Northwest of Bangladesh, have been left to starve.

 

Given this unprecedented emergency situation, we decided to act. Thanks to the financial support received via our call for donations, our local member organisation OSHE Foundation managed to distribute food and personal protective equipment items to 130 of the most deprived shipbreaking workers’ families. Each family, comprising at least four members, received a package containing rice, potatoes, wheat flour, dal (dried, split pulses), cooking oil, salt, sugar, tea, potato, onion, chana dal (chickpeas), moori (puffed rice), one re-usable face mask and hand soap, ensuring subsistence for at least 10 to 15 days.

 

Work has been stopped for many days. We are having a hard time with our families. I can't get any help from anywhere. Such support from OSHE at this time has saved us. We will be able to spend the next days in peace”, said a worker named Quddus.

 

Krishna, a worker who lost his leg due to an accident at the shipbreaking yards, said: “I can't work due to my injury. My wife runs the household by doing some sewing work. It goes without saying that there is no work now because of Corona. I have two children. I already had to borrow some money to support the family. Now, I don't have to worry about food for the next 15 days. This is a happy day for my family”.

 

Shafi, one of the many victims of asbestos exposure, added: “I am suffering from asbestosis. I am the only one earning in the family. I can’ t always work because of my condition. I was feeling helpless in the present situation. This help from OSHE at such a time has saved me and my family”.

 

Whilst most of the shipbreaking yards in Chattogram remain closed, some have re-started cutting operations. According to local trade unions, these yards are not paying properly and the government assistance which local workers have received is negligible compared to the need.

"With the food packages distributed by OSHE, at least the workers are not compelled and exploited to go back to the yards and risk exposure to not only the extremely contagious COVID-19 virus in a society where many are deprived of accessing proper medical care, but also to the many dangers shipbreaking involves."
Sara Rita Da Costa - Project Officer - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

The NGO Shipbreaking Platform campaigns for safe and clean recycling and believes that ship owners have the responsibility to ensure that neither workers, nor the environment, and the communities that depend upon it, are harmed. The situation at the shipbreaking yards in Bangladesh is particularly dire: the many accidents - fatal and serious injuries - are telling of the appalling working conditions. The fact that workers are not paid or provided support during the COVID-19 lockdown is also telling of a completely lacking safety net, both from employers' and government level.

 

Once again, we express our gratitude for the support received via the donations, which made possible the distribution of emergency food assistance to more than  during this unprecedented and challenging period.

 

Press Release – Platform publishes list of ships dismantled worldwide in 2019

Most shipping companies continue to opt for the highest price at the worst scrapping yards

 

According to new data released today by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, 674 ocean-going commercial ships and offshore units were sold to the scrap yards in 2019. Of these vessels, 469 large tankers, bulkers, floating platforms, cargo- and passenger ships were broken down on only three beaches in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, amounting to near 90% of the gross tonnage dismantled globally.

 

"Bangladesh remains the favoured dumping ground for end-of-life ships laden with toxics. There is wide-spread knowledge of the irreparable damage caused by dirty and dangerous practices on tidal mudflats, yet profit is the only decisive factor for most ship owners when selling their vessels for breaking."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Last year, at least 26 workers lost their lives when breaking apart the global fleet. The Platform documented accidents that killed 24 workers on the beach of Chattogram (formerly known as Chittagong), making 2019 the worst year for Bangladeshi yards in terms of fatalities since 2010. At least another 34 workers were severely injured. Whilst the total death toll in Indian yards is unknown, local sources and media confirmed at least two deaths at shipbreaking yards that claim to be operating safely, but have failed to be included in the EU list of approved ship recycling facilities [1].

 


DUMPERS 2019 – Worst practices

 

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES and GREECE top the list of country dumpers in 2019. UAE owners were responsible for the highest absolute number of ships sold to South Asian shipbreaking yards in 2019: 45 ships in total. Greek owners closely followed with 40 beached vessels.

 

The ‘worst corporate dumper’ prize goes to the Taiwanese container shipping line Evergreen. In the last years, the company has been under the spotlight for its damaging shipbreaking practices. In January 2018, the Norwegian Central Bank announced its decision to divest from Evergreen due to the ship owner’s repeated sale of vessels for dirty and dangerous breaking on the beach of Chattogram. Since then, the company has clearly not changed its policy. Eleven of Evergreen’s vessels ended up in South Asia in 2019. On 23 July, cutter man Shahidul lost his life while working at Kabir Steel’s Khawja shipbreaking yard in Bangladesh. Shahidul was dismantling Evergreen’s EVER UNION when he fell from a great height. He died on the spot.

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Dry bulk shipping company Berge Bulk is runner-up for worst corporate practice. Four ships owned by the Bermuda-based ship owner ended up in Bangladesh for dirty and dangerous breaking. Berge Bulk’s scrapping practices should prompt the Lloyd’s List Asia Awards to withdraw the prize for “Excellence in Environmental Management” the company recently received for its commitment to environmental conservation. Indeed, there is nothing laudable about putting workers lives at serious risk and polluting sensitive coastal environments.

 

Danish container shipping giant Maersk scrapped four vessels on the Indian beaches last year. The company did not hesitate to leave the Danish shipping registry in order to circumvent the new EU laws requiring the use of EU-approved recycling facilities, and at least two of the ships even left EU waters in breach of an international and European ban on the export of hazardous waste to developing countries. In November, Bangladesh Courts condemned the illegal breaking of Maersk’s FPSO North Sea Producer which had been sold to cash buyer GMS and fraudulently exported from the UK in 2016. Criminal investigations are underway in the UK.

 

Other well-known shipping companies that in 2019 dumped their toxic ships on South Asian beaches include: Costamare, CMA CGM, Diamond Offshore, ENSCO, MOL, MSC, NYK Line, Tidewater and Vale.


In India, many yards now boast having upgraded their beaching facilities to comply with the requirements set by the International Maritime Organisation’s Hong Kong Convention. Recent inspection visits by the European Commission in Alang and media reports, however, flag serious concerns related to pollution of the intertidal area; absence of medical facilities; breaches of labour rights and lack of capacity to safely manage a number of hazardous waste streams, including mercury and radioactive contaminated materials that are typically found on offshore oil & gas units. No facility located in South Asia meets the safety and environmental requirements for EU approval.

 

All ships sold to Chattogram, Alang and Gadani pass via the hands of scrap-dealers, better known as cash buyers. These pay the highest price for end-of-life vessels and are inherently linked to the beaching yards. Cash buyers typically re-name, re-register and re-flag the vessels on their last voyage. Black-listed flags, such as Palau, Comoros and St Kitts & Nevis, were particularly popular in 2019: almost half of the ships sold to South Asia changed flag to one of these registries just weeks before hitting the beach. None were beached under an EU flag, despite many vessels having been sold by a European shipping company.

"Policy makers need to adopt effective measures to divert ships towards the sites that have been approved by the EU. The fact that old ships are registered under flags known for the poor implementation of international maritime law sheds serious doubt over the effectiveness of legislation based on flag state jurisdiction only, including the EU Ship Recycling Regulation."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Today banks, pension funds and other financial institutions are actively taking a closer look at how they might contribute to a shift towards better ship recycling practices off the beach, taking into account social and environmental criteria, not just financial returns, when selecting asset values or clients [2]. Police and environmental authorities are also increasingly monitoring the movements of end-of-life vessels. Following the Seatrade judgement in the Netherlands where, for the first time, a ship owner was held criminally liable for having intended to sell four end-of-life ships to Indian beaching yards, several other cases of illegal traffic are under investigation. [3] Aiding and abiding environmental crime is equally punishable: insurers, brokers and maritime warranty surveyors could therefore also be held liable. By unravelling the murky practices of shipbreaking, these cases highlight the importance of conducting due diligence when choosing business partners.

"Clean and safe solutions are already available. We applaud companies, such as Dutch Van Oord, that have had a responsible ship recycling policy ‘off the beach’ for many years. Whilst other ship owners lament over the lack of capacity to recycle sustainably, only 31 vessels were recorded recycled in EU-approved facilities, which represent a minor fraction of what these yards are able to handle."
Nicola Mulinaris - Communication and Policy Officer - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

For the data visualization of 2019 shipbreaking records, click here. *

For the full Excel dataset of all ships dismantled worldwide in 2019, 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.

 

NOTES

 

[1] The EU Ship Recycling Regulation became applicable on 1 January 2019. According to the Regulation, EU-flagged vessels have to be recycled in one of the currently 41 approved facilities around the world included in the EU list. EU-approved ship recycling facilities must comply with high standards for environmental protection and workers’ safety. The EU list is the first of its kind; is the only list of facilities that have been independently audited; and provides an important reference point for sustainable ship recycling. Any ship owner that wants to opt for safe and clean ship recycling can simply choose one of the 41 facilities that are now included on the List.

 

[2] In early 2018, Scandinavian pension funds KLP and GPFG were the first to divest from four shipping companies, including containership company Evergreen, due to their beaching practices.

 

[3] In Scotland, Diamond Offshore and cash buyer GMS are still under investigation for having attempted to illegally export three heavily contaminated platforms that had operated in the North Sea and were cold-stacked in Cromarty Firth. The platforms have been detained in Scotland since January 2018.

 

Platform News – Global ban on exporting hazardous waste to developing countries becomes law

The Basel Ban Amendment, adopted by the Parties to the Basel Convention on the Control of the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous and Their Disposal in 1995, became international law on December 5 last week. This amendment, now ratified by 98 countries, and most recently, by Costa Rica, prohibits the export of hazardous wastes from member states of the European Union, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and Liechtenstein to all other countries. This agreement is now a new Article (4a) of the Basel Convention.

 

The many countries and organisations that helped create the Basel Ban Amendment, including the Platform’s member organisation Basel Action Network (BAN), can celebrate their persistence. In view of the continuing export of unwanted electronic wastes, plastic wastes and end-of-life vessels from the Global North to highly-polluting operations in Asia and Africa, the ban is seen as relevant today as it was 30 years ago when ships loaded with barrels of toxic waste left their deadly cargo on the beaches of African and Latin American countries.

"The Ban Amendment is the world's foremost legal landmark for global environmental justice. It boldly legislates against a free-trade in environmental costs and harm. "
Jim Puckett - Executive Director and Founder - Basel Action Network

Despite the achievement of the Ban Amendment, powerful industries - currently, the electronics and shipping industries - are now trying to change the definition of that to which the Ban applies. They do so in order to exempt their products from the legal restraints imposed by the Convention and the Ban.

"Shamefully, electronics manufacturers like HP, Dell and Apple are lobbying for the Basel Convention to call non-functional electronics 'non-waste' and thus not subject to the Basel Ban if somebody simply declares these wastes as possibly repairable."
Jim Puckett - Executive Director and Founder - Basel Action Network

Likewise, the shipping industry has run screaming from their Basel responsibilities for old obsolete ships to create its own Hong Kong Convention, designed specifically to perpetuate the dumping of toxic vessels on South Asian beaches.

 

Further, noticeably absent from the list of countries having ratified the ban is the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia, India, Brazil, and Mexico. 

"There can be no excuse for any country to use poorer countries as convenient dumping grounds for their waste, and it is especially ugly to do this in the name of recycling or the circular economy. With the Ban Amendment now international law, we hope and urge that all countries that have failed to ratify it will reconsider what it means to be global leaders in the age of globalisation."
Jim Puckett - Executive Director and Founder - Basel Action Network

Press Release – Platform publishes list of ships dismantled worldwide in 2018

Record-breaking 90% of end-of-life tonnage scrapped on South Asian beaches

 

According to new data released today by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, 744 large ocean-going commercial vessels were sold to the scrap yards in 2018. Of these vessels, 518 were broken down on tidal mudflats in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, amounting to a record-breaking 90,4% of the gross tonnage dismantled globally. 

"The figures of 2018 are shocking. No ship owner can claim to be unaware of the dire conditions at the beaching yards, still they massively continue to sell their vessels to the worst yards to get the highest price for their ships. The harm caused by beaching is real. Workers risk their lives, suffer from exposure to toxics, and coastal ecosystems are devastated. Ship owners have a responsibility to sell to recycling yards that invest in their workers and environment."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Last year, at least 35 workers lost their lives when breaking apart the global fleet. The Platform documented at least 14 workers that died in Alang, making 2018 one of one of the worse years for Indian yards in terms of accident records in the last decade. Another 20 workers died and 12 workers were severely injured in the Bangladeshi yards. In Pakistan, local sources confirmed 1 death and 27 injuries. Seven injuries were linked to yet another fire that broke out on-board a beached tanker. 

 


DUMPERS 2018 – Worst practices

 

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, GREECE and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA top the list of country dumpers in 2018. UAE owners were responsible for the highest absolute number of ships sold to South Asian shipbreaking yards in 2018: there were 61 ships in total. Greek owners, beached 57 vessels out of a total of 66 sold for demolition. American owners closely followed with 53 end-of-life vessels broken up on South Asian tidal mudflats. 

 

The ‘worst corporate dumper’ prize goes to the South Korean liner Sinokor Merchant Marine. The company, which has been loss-making and is about to merge its container operations with Heung-A, sold 11 ships for breaking on the beaches in 2018: eight vessels ended up in Bangladesh and three in India, where in April, during the demolition of Sinokor’s PLATA GLORY at Leela Ship Recycling Yard [1], a worker died hit by a falling iron plate. 

 

Norwegian Nordic American Tankers (NAT) - incorporated in Bermuda and stock-listed in New York - is runner-up for the ‘worst dumper’ prize. Last year, NAT reported having earned USD 80 million for the sale of eight vessels for breaking. Three were sold to Alang for breaking and five were sold to breakers in Chittagong. According to local sources in Bangladesh, the cutting operations of these ships started without required government authorisations. The sale of two additional vessels to yards in Bangladesh with particularly poor track records and where two workers were killed in 2018, prompted Norwegian pension fund KLP to blacklist the company. 

 

Seven vessels were sold to beaching yards for dirty and dangerous scrapping by German owner Dr Peters GmbH & Co KG. According to local sources, fitter Md Samiul lost his life while scrapping Dr Peters’ DS WARRIOR in December 2018.

 

Other known shipping companies that in 2018 sold their vessels for the highest price to the worst breaking yards include: Chevron, Costamare, H-Line, Louis plc, Seabulk, SOVCOMFLOT, Teekay, Zodiac Group and CMB. Belgian CMB is still under investigation for the export of the MINERAL WATER to Bangladesh in 2016.


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 138 oil and gas units which have been identified as demolished in 2018 alone, 96 ended up on the beaches of South Asia. Figures include 81 small-sized tug/supply ships and 33 semi-submersible platforms. Noble Corp, ENSCO, Tidewater, Diamond Offshore and Petrobras are amongst the biggest offshore players that dump their assets on the South Asian beaches. While most assets were exported from either East Asia or America, Diamond Offshore and cash buyer GMS are under investigation in Scotland for having attempted to illegally export three platforms that had operated in the North Sea and were cold-stacked in Cromarty Firth. The platforms have been under arrest in Scotland since January 2018.

 

Ship owners are facing increased pressure from investors and credit providers to stop selling their ships to beaching yards. In early 2018, Scandinavian pension funds KLP and GPFG were the first to divest from four shipping companies due to their beaching practices. Today, banks, pension funds and other financial institutions are actively taking a closer look at how they might contribute to a shift towards better ship recycling practices off the beach, taking into account social and environmental criteria, not just financial returns, when selecting asset values or clients.

 

Losing financing and clients, however, should not be the only concern of ship owners who continue to use dirty and dangerous scrap yards. In 2018, and for the first time ever, a ship owner was held criminally liable for having illegally traded four end-of-life ships to Indian beaching yards. Several other cases of illegal traffic are under investigation. These cases focus not only on the liability of the ship owner, but also on the responsibility of insurers, brokers and maritime warranty surveyors. By unravelling the murky practices of shipbreaking, which involve the use of middle men, or cash buyers, and flags of convenience such as Comoros, Palau and St. Kitts & Nevis, these cases highlight the importance of conducting due diligence when choosing business partners.

"Clean and safe solutions are already available. Responsible ship owners, such as Dutch Boskalis, German Hapag Lloyd, and Scandinavian companies Wallenius-Wilhelmsen and Grieg, recycle their vessels off the beach. The EU maintains a list of clean and safe ship recycling facilities [2]. More ships need to be diverted towards these sites."
Nicola Mulinaris - Communication and Policy Officer - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

For the list of all ships dismantled worldwide in 2018, click here. *

For detailed figures and analysis on ships dismantled in 2018, 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.

 

 

NOTES

 

[1] The Plata Glory was beached in December 2017 at Leela Ship Recycling yard. Leela holds a so-called Statement of Compliance with the Hong Kong Convention issued by ClassNK and claims to be offering “green recycling”.   

 

[2] The EU has published a list of ship recycling facilities around the world that comply with high standards for environmental protection and workers’ safety. The EU list of approved ship recycling facilities is the first of its kind and an important reference point for sustainable ship recycling. 

 

Press Release – The hypocrisy of better beaches: winners of the “Public Eye Investigation Award” shed light on shipbreaking in Alang and Swiss companies’ involvement

Belgian journalist Gie Goris, Editor in Chief of MO* Magazine, and Nicola Mulinaris, Communication and Policy Officer of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, received Public Eye’s first ever “Investigation Award” for their research on the shipbreaking business.

 

Gie Goris looked for signs of Swiss shipping companies in the Indian town of Alang, where ships go to die. There, he saw many middle-aged wrecks, and met angry trade unionists and workers deprived of their rights and risking their health on a daily basis for a meagre wage. Swiss ship owners, including container giant MSC, use the Alang beach to dispose of their floating toxic waste while boosting their profits. The “recycling” methods of the Geneva-based company MSC, which recently attracted critical headlines for the damage its containers caused in the North Sea, show the vast rift between sustainability promises and the reality of the Swiss shipping industry’s business practices. 

 

Nicola Mulinaris supported Goris in shedding light on the political context behind the illegal trade of toxic waste and showing the important, but ignominious, role played by landlocked Switzerland in dealing with end-of-life ships.

This story, which was published yesterday also by Public Eye, is just an extract of a bigger investigation. The full report "Behind the Hypocrisy of Better Beaches" takes a closer look at industry attempts to greenwash beaching and the lobbying for double standards by embedded policymakers in Europe.

"With this investigation we expose how vested interests have become greenwashing champions to derail and delay real progress."
Nicola Mulinaris - Communication and Policy Officer - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

 

Set up to celebrate Public Eye’s 50th anniversary in 2018, the “Investigation Award” honoured and funded journalistic research into human rights violations, environmental offences or other irresponsible practices of Swiss companies in developing or emerging countries. A jury comprised of renowned media professionals and Public Eye staff selected two projects [1] from a shortlist of 55.

 

Yesterday, the two investigations were presented to the public in Zurich, during an event held at Kosmos. A panel debate on the relationship between media and NGOs followed the authors’ presentations.

 

 

 

NOTE

 

[1] “The Blazing Success of Swiss Cigarettes in Africa” is the other project that won the "Public Eye Investigation Award". Lausanne-based reporter Marie Maurisse examined the secret recipes that Swiss tobacco companies use for cigarettes earmarked for export to Africa, in particular to Morocco. In 2017 alone, 2,900 tonnes – or 3,625 cigarettes – were exported to the country. Tests undertaken exclusively for her research revealed a scandalous double standard: cigarettes produced by Philip Morris and Japan Tobacco International (JTI) in Switzerland and sold in Morocco contained markedly higher levels of particles, nicotine and carbon monoxide than those produced for the domestic market. In contrast to the laws in the EU, Swiss legislation allows tobacco companies registered in the country – clearly not by coincidence – to produce and export products that are significantly more harmful and addictive than those sold in Switzerland. According to the WHO, the number of smoking-related deaths in Africa will double by 2030 (with help from Switzerland).

 

 

Where ships go to die – Winner of the Public Eye Investigation Award

Where ships go to die

Switzerland and the uncontrolled dismantling of ships

Decommissioned deep-sea vessels are floating toxic waste. Their disposal is laborious and costly, and regarded as a menace by those who want to protect both the workers and the environment. The more unscrupulous companies have their ships scrapped on South Asian beaches, where they poison the waters and endanger the wreckers. Swiss companies are among those who save a lot of money that way.

 

 

 

GIE GORIS - EDITOR IN CHIEF - MO* MAGAZINE

 

 

Research partner: Nicola Mulinaris - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Financial supporter: Public Eye

 

 

The road to Alang is lined with shops and warehouses selling items that come from ships that used to sail across oceans: oak desks, faux crystal chandeliers, life vests and lifeboats, ropes, electric cables and switches, leather chairs, paintings, giant generators and motors – just about anything you can name. This is ship recycling in its most literal sense, even though these commodities are in reality no more than surplus products. The real reasons why huge ships end up on the beaches of Alang are their steel hulls and frames. Steel is where the real profits are to be made.

 

Alang and neighbouring Sosiya used to be simple fishing villages on India’s north-western coast. Today, they are famous – or rather infamous – because shipbreaking yards are now taking up kilometers of beaches along the Gulf of Khambhat, where the Arabian Sea cuts deep into the state of Gujarat. These shores have thus become boat cemeteries. 

 

A few days before we arrived in Alang, in early September 2018, two men died while working at the RKB Group-owned Honey Ship Breaking yard. Bhuddabhai Kudesha from Alang, and Ali Ahmed from Jharkhand, fell victim to an industry often seen as providing “the most dangerous jobs in the world”. The same yard was used less than a year ago by the Swiss company MSC to break up the MSC Alice. You can read more on this story below.

 

NO TRESPASSING!

The omnipresence of impressive images of ocean-going giants on Asian beaches could give the impression that the yards are quite accessible. This is not the case. Driving into Alang, a big blue banner welcomes visitors to the Alang-Sosiya Ship Recycling Yard, but it soon becomes clear that the welcome is conditional. Journalists, academics and foreigners can usually only enter with permission from officials in Gandhinagar, Gujarat’s capital. The procedure can take months, or even longer, and in the rare instances where permission is granted it comes with many restrictions that limit access. Not having this green light from Gandhinagar, we were stopped at our first attempt to visit Alang. The Gujarat Maritime Board allowed us to go on the roof of their building overlooking the yard, but even a carefully disguised attempt at a selfie was stopped in its tracks: “No pictures, sir!” So it was clear that one needs to be inventive and try to circumvent the Gujarat Maritime Board checkpoint, persuade a yard owner to give the go-ahead, or have an extremely well connected liaison person who can introduce you. We combined these three conditions to get closer to the breaking yards. 

 

 

Shipbreaking yards in Alang, India - © Amit Dave 2018

 

 

Bhuddabhai’s last day

Bhuddabhai was 33. On August 31 2018, as on every other working day, he woke up around six in the morning, when the first light penetrates the darkness and ends the silence in his village. His eight-year-old son and two daughters, aged six and four, were still sleeping, but his wife was already up and preparing their breakfast. Six years ago, Bhuddabhai had managed to get a job on the shipbreaking yards of Alang, situated about three kilometers from their house. He knew how rare it was for a Kholi – originally a fisherman’s caste but now mostly day laborers in seasonal agriculture – to find work in that industry.

 

On the morning of the accident, Bhuddabhai was busy removing toilets from the MV Ocean Gala. His employer would later sell these items to the second-hand shops that line the road to Alang. It wasn't a particularly well-paid job, but it certainly made a better living than the farm work his father and younger brother Rajabhai did. Bhuddabhai would often lend them a helping hand on Sundays or before he left for the yards on his Honda motorcycle at 7.30 in the morning. On that day, Bhuddabhai took, for the last time, the dusty road from his home to the Honey Ship Breaking Yard.

 

We visited Alang only a few days later, and the exact circumstances of the accident were still murky when we spoke to his family. What transpires is that a piece of the hull must have broken off unexpectedly, taking Bhuddabhai with it as well as Ali Ahmed, the gas cutter who was cutting through the steel on the ship's ninth floor to create an extra exit. None of the workers were wearing safety belts. Nor were they required to, according to the shipyard’s owner. They were working inside the ship; only the cutters working on the ship’s exterior must wear safety belts.

 

Cruise ship MV Ocean Gala in Alang, India - © Amit Dave 2018

 

 

An endless list of problems

To better understand the conditions under which breakers work in Alang, we met Vidyadhar Rane, who is secretary-general of the union trying to organize workers there. In addition to the safety problems on the sites, there are many essential points that should be improved or obtained: “Housing. Toilets. Canteens. Correctly paid overtime. Paid holidays. Health and accident insurance for everyone. Adequate hospital capacity.” The latter can make the difference between life and death when disaster strikes. When Bhuddabhai had the accident at Honey Ship Breaking Yard, he was brought to the public hospital in Bhavnagar, a provincial town more than 50 kilometers from Alang. It takes more than an hour to cover that distance on the narrow two-lane road, full of speed bumps, stray cows, trucks and dangerous traffic. There is a small, 10-bed clinic run by the Indian Red Cross and the Alang Hospital, which has 20 beds, but these do not have the equipment to deal with serious injuries. These infrastructures are completely insufficient to meet the needs of almost 160 yards in Alang, on which 15,000 to 30,000 workers dismantle huge ships under extreme conditions, risking their limbs and lives. The numbers given vary with each interview, and official statistics are not available, since most labor is informal anyway.

 

 

A billion rupees industry

“There is no union in Alang,” says Nikhil Gupta, co-owner of Rudra Green Ship Recycling, one of the “better” shipbreaking yards in Alang. “And that makes doing business in Gujarat so nice: we have no unions because everyone is on the same page.” Gupta makes this surprising – and patently untrue – statement at the end of an interview during which he has tried to explain the economic laws of demand and supply that govern the world of globalized shipping and shipbreaking, or as industry captains like him prefer to call it: “recycling”. Although the other yard owners we speak to aren’t as disparaging, no-one has anything resembling a formal relation with a union. Nor do they engage in collective bargaining at company or sectoral level. “When there are problems, we deal with the workers directly. Much faster that way” says Nitin Kanakiya, the secretary of the Ship Recycling Industry Association (SRIA) and the owner of Triveni Yard, in Alang.

 

“The laws to protect workers are insufficient and are not enforced,” explains Dr Sahu Geetanjoy, a researcher at the Tata Institute for Social Studies in Mumbai, and one of just a few academics studying labor conditions in the shipbreaking industry. The government’s own financial interests may explain its lack of commitment to enforcing labor and environmental rules, he says. Through taxes and the leasing of land on the beaches, the shipbreaking industry contributes around 7 billion rupees, or about €87.5 million, to the Gujarat state coffers per year.

 

When we asked Bhuddabhai’s family what they expect from the owner of the shipbreaking yard, the answer came instantly: “Nothing.” Their answer reflects centuries of humiliation and marginalization; Kholis have never been able to expect anything from the wealthy or the upper castes. Bhuddabhai’s brother and nephew still don’t know whether the family will receive any compensation. Raj Bansal, the Honey Ship Breaking Yard owner, promises that the family will receive about €6,250, an amount that corresponds to three years of work on the yard. But a pension for the widow, Bansal says, will not be provided. Added to the immense pain of having lost her husband and the father of her three children is the destitution, more desperate than anything she has known so far.

 

Every year around 1000 ships are scrapped.

65 to 75 % of them end up on one of the three breaking beaches in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Bhuddabhai's tragic story evokes the threat to the lives of so many others; tens of thousands of men who, to support themselves and their families, dismantle ships with little or no protection on the beaches of South Asia. According to data published by the Brussels-based international NGO Shipbreaking Platform, every year around 1000 ships are scrapped, and 65 to 75 percent of them end up on one of the three breaking beaches in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

 

Once a ship is destined for dismantling, it is considered to be hazardous waste under international law, specifically the 1989 Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal.

 

 

Weakening and circumventing laws

Click on the images below to discover the legal framework's weaknesses and how ship owners use loopholes to circumvent legislation.

 

UNEP

IMO

EU

UNEP Basel Convention

The United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) adopted the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal in 1992 following numerous hazardous waste trafficking scandals in the late 1980’s. The Basel Convention, which has been transposed into EU law by the EU Waste Shipment Regulation, controls the international trade of hazardous wastes. It is relevant for ship dismantling as a ship, which usually contains hazardous materials within its structure, is considered hazardous waste when destined for breaking. The Basel Convention, ratified by 187 countries, remains the only international legislation in force that aims at protecting developing countries from the dumping of toxic ships. Still, the shipping industry has exploited loopholes in the Basel regime and opted for the more profitable breaking of ships on South Asian beaches. Due to the fact that a vessel becomes waste only when the intent to dispose of it is evident, to escape the Basel regime it is sufficient for ship owners to hide their true intentions from the authorities of the exporting state - the state from where the vessel leaves for its final voyage to the scrap yard.

IMO Hong Kong Convention

When the Basel Convention State Parties started discussing more effective ways of regulating the trade of toxic ships – such as pinpointing the responsibility of countries where ship owners are headquartered – the United Nations’ specialized agency International Maritime Organization (IMO) decided to start working on a new legally binding convention specifically on ship recycling to be based instead on enforcement by the flag states. The resulting Hong Kong Convention (HKC) on the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships is not expected to enter into force before many years, since, to date, it has been ratified only by six countries. Civil society has been joined by the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Toxics, European policy makers and developing countries in denouncing the HKC for setting low standards that would rubberstamp current dirty and dangerous practices on South Asian beaches.

 

EU Ship Recycling Regulation

At the European level, due to the ease by which ship owners have been circumventing existing waste laws, a new regulation on ship recycling was adopted. From 31 December 2018, EU-flagged vessels can only be recycled in facilities compliant with the regulation’s requirements and included in the European List of ship recycling facilities. The EU regulation sets higher standards than the HKC: the beaching method is not allowed and requirements related to downstream toxic waste management as well as labor rights are included.

 

The most dangerous job in the world

In 2015, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) warned about the dreadful consequences of this practice: “Shipbreaking has grown into a major occupational and environmental health problem. It is amongst the most dangerous of occupations, with unacceptably high levels of fatalities, injuries and work-related diseases.”

 

According to The Indian Supreme Court, the incidence of fatal accidents in shipbreaking (two in every 1,000 workers) is higher than that in mining (0.34 per 1,000 workers).

In India, data from the Gujarat Industrial Safety and Health Department show that at least 470 fatal accidents occurred in Alang between 1983, the start of the local shipbreaking industry, and 2013, indicates Dr Geetanjoy of the Tata Institute for Social Studies. “There is no central and reliable register of accidents in the yards,” he explains. But according to the Indian Supreme Court, the incidence of fatal accidents in shipbreaking (two in every 1000 workers) is higher than that in mining (0.34 per 1,000 workers), which is nevertheless considered to be “the most accident-prone industry.”

 

In 2009, the UN Special Rapporteur on toxic wastes already described in a report the long-term risks of shipbreaking, a time-bomb: “In shipbreaking yards, workers are often exposed to toxic chemicals including asbestos dust and fibres, highly toxic industrial chemicals which have been banned for decades but are still present in ships, as well as lead, mercury, arsenic or cadmium in paints, coatings and electrical equipment. Workers are often without protective equipment that reduces exposure. Prolonged exposure to these chemicals increases the risk of developing slow-progressing but fatal diseases, which may not become apparent until many years after exposure.”

 

As in other sensitive sectors, the human and environmental costs of such practices are paid by poor countries. The current Special Rapporteur, Baskut Tuncak, is more explicit about the responsibility of the shipping industry, “which externalises impacts on poor workers and communities in developing countries”. In that sense, container ships and other vessels are, right to the end, sad symbols of the abuses of globalization.

 

 

Ecological disaster and the “gravity method”

The environmental consequences are also dramatic. In June 2016, the EU Directorate-General for the Environment published an overview of several studies, one of which clearly showed just how heavily the Alang–Sosiya natural environment has been polluted by copper, cobalt, manganese, lead, cadmium, nickel, zinc and mercury. The Commission also refers to a previous study, published in 2001, that found that mercury levels in Alang were 15,500 percent higher than at a control site, and 16,973 percent higher for petroleum hydrocarbons. The researchers also detected the presence of certain bacteria at high levels.

 

Questioned on this point, Dr Geetanjoy Sahu, at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, complains about the dire lack of research into the state of fish populations, groundwater, air quality and noise pollution in the region. “The government makes it all but impossible to work independently in Alang, even for Indian researchers. That makes one wonder: what is it that needs to be hidden? What interests need to be protected so desperately?”

 

Some of the pollution is directly related to what the shipbreaking industry calls the “gravity method”: this is when large parts of the ship are cut with a blowtorch and crash down on the beach. The incredible impact of falling tons of steel combined with the process of cutting steel using very high-temperature gas flames causes often-toxic paints to be released into the sea and soil. The ships are broken during low tide and all the oil residues, heavy metals and toxic substances that aren’t cleaned up before high-tide are spread across the entire marine environment.

 

Scrapped blocks in the intertidal area in Alang, India - © Amit Dave 2018

 

 

“Europe is hypocritical”

However, all the site owners we interviewed have a common refrain: “Alang’s yards are well on track to becoming green, but the European companies lack serious commitment to the cause they preach.” Nithin Kanakiya, owner of Triveni ship recycling yard in Alang and the secretary of the local Ship Recycling Industry Association (SRIA), is even louder and clearer. “Europe is hypocritical. From one side, it demands the impossible in terms of salaries, insurances, safety and environmental protection, while from the other side their only interest is profit maximization, for which they are prepared to play one yard against the other,” he insists.

 

We asked Komalkant Sharma, the owner of the Leela Group of Companies, whether he looks at the big shippers for support: “When we find that ship owners are only interested in top dollars, then it becomes impossible for us to continue doing business with them. Leela aims to be better than the others in social and ecological terms, but that does not come for free. And that is why European ship owners should bear their share of responsibility and encourage the necessary investments by accepting lower prices for their vessels, or by engaging in the longer term with recycling companies. But the ship owners dump the responsibility on the recyclers.”

 

If Leela is considered to be one of the “best” yards in Alang, then it’s good to remember that Ravindra Chaudhari died there on Sunday, April 15 2018, while doing maintenance work. A sheet of steel, which was half cut out of the hull of the vessel Plata Glory, fell down.

 

 

A hell for (mostly) internal migrants

Many vessels are dismantled in Chittagong, Bangladesh, where labour and environmental conditions are even worse than at Alang. Mohamed Ali Shahin, who works for Young People in Action (YPSA) and is deeply involved in the shipbreaking issue, told us on the phone that on 10 November a worker at the SH Enterprise yard died while breaking the Ukraine-owned MV Velda. And that the day before another worker died while disassembling the Indian-owned Peri at the Golden Iron Works yard. Earlier this year, two workers died on the Zuma Enterprise yard; they were working on the MT EKTA, an oil tanker that, according to shipping databases, was sold to the breaker by the Swiss shipping company Navimar. Navimar bought the vessel that was operated by Maran Tankers, a subsidiary of Greek Anangel Shipping Group, in September 2017, only a month before it was brought to the beach at Chittagong, so it’s clear that the Swiss company acted as a conduit to scrap the ship, making a purely financial transaction.

"Zuma Enterprise is one of the worst yards in Chittagong. It has no safety measures, no compliance to international environmental standards and no waste management. Why would a Swiss company choose such an unsafe yard to cooperate with?"
MD Ali Shahin - YPSA

Zuma is not only unsafe, it’s also cheap with regard to workers’ health. “Their practice,” adds Shahin, “is to pay the family of a worker who died in an accident the legal minimum of 100.000 taka (a little over 1000 euros). But other yards would compensate such a tragic loss with 500.000 taka.”

 

 

19 fatalities in 2018, a new sad record

The government should do more to make it cleaner and safer, he argues, but it’s not just a Bengali responsibility. As he emphasizes: “European ship owners could do so much more to demand and stimulate safe and clean shipbreaking. They can enforce European standards and should invest, for instance, in waste-collection facilities. And, of course, they could start with cleaning out their ships of all the toxic materials before they even send them to South Asia.”

 

As in Alang, many of the shipbreaking workers in Chittagong are internal migrants who live in unsanitary accommodation. They work long hours, usually without labor contracts, and can take no holidays. The shipbreaking yards prevent trade unions from organizing the workers. In Chittagong, at least 15 workers were killed in 2017, while at least 22 suffered severe injuries. Provisional figures for 2018 indicate that 19 workers have lost their lives, the highest number in the past nine years. The majority of the deaths are caused by fires, falls from great heights, and workers being crushed by ship parts that come loose.

 

Shipbreaking yards in Chittagong, Bangladesh - © Studio Fasching 2017
Burns on worker's hands in Chittagong, Bangladesh - © Studio Fasching 2017

 

 

Switzerland is a global dumper, too

Although it has no access to the sea, Switzerland is home to big companies specializing in maritime chartering. Whereas Mediterranean Shipping Co. (MSC) is well known among cruise lovers, most people have never heard of the other shipping companies, most of which are domiciled on the shores of Lake Geneva. Even less well known is the sad fact that the Swiss shipping sector also has a poor track record regarding the dismantling business in South Asia.

 

According to our calculations and based on a variety of industry sources, ninety Swiss-owned vessels ended up on beaches in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan between 2009 and today. The names of the companies involved are on the record, but receive little publicity: Atlanship S.A., Doris Maritime Services S.A., FleetPro Passenger Ship Management AG, Lumar S.A., MSC Mediterranean Shipping Co., Sallaum Group SA, Shipfin S.A., Sider Navi S.p.A., and Taunus Shipping S.A.

 

According to the UN Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Switzerland ranks 20th in the world in terms of the number of ships owned. However, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform reports that, in terms of the number of ships scrapped on South Asian beaches, Switzerland rises in the ranking. Almost all Swiss ships end their working years in such conditions, making Switzerland one of the biggest polluters in terms of the irresponsible management of its old ships.

 

 

MSC does not walk its talk

 

Of the 90 Swiss-owned vessels scrapped on South Asian beaches in the last ten years, a stunning 80 belonged to MSC.

Of the 90 Swiss-owned vessels scrapped on South Asian beaches in the last ten years, a stunning 80 belonged to MSC, the second-biggest container shipping company in the world. This giant with a turnover of 27 billion euros in 2017 does not have to publish its numbers, since it’s a family owned and run company, headed by its Italian co-founder Gianluigi Aponte.

 

In 2009, he received the Neapolitan Excellence of the World award from the then Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, and in 2013, the Cavaliere del Lavoro (Knight of Labor) honorary title from the President of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano. To be considered for the title, candidates must have an impeccable record of civil and social accomplishments, and have abided by all tax laws, while paying particular attention to workers’ protection and assistance. More recently, in October 2018, MSC won the Greenest Ship Owner of the Year award at the annual Green Shipping Summit in Amsterdam. “MSC was commended for its efforts to promote the sustainable use of marine resources and investments in green technologies,” the company writes on its website.

 

A shipping company that, to quote their Chief Sustainability Officer, aims “to become the most sustainable, technologically advanced and customer-focused shipping line in the industry” while at the same time sending its decommissioned vessels to South Asian beaches, has some explaining to do. We therefore contacted MSC two weeks after they were honored with the Greenest Ship Owner Award 2018 and told them that we wished “to get the facts and numbers about ships sold for breaking/recycling and to understand the decision processes or criteria used by MSC.” The response from Geneva was brief: “Thank you for your interest in MSC’s environmental strategy. As of today, we decline to take part in your research.”

 

 

Inexistent standard

In MSC’s sustainability report there is only one reference to the issue: “Our ship recycling practice is another important area of emphasis for MSC, as it is strictly related to labor standards, environmental protection and human rights […] only recycling yards with IMO HKC standards (see box 3) , ISO 14001 (environment), ISO 30001 (recycling management) and OSHAS 18001 (health & safety) standards are selected for recycling at the end of the useful life of a ship.” It’s remarkable that MSC refers to ISO 30001 as one of the conditions for working with shipbreaking yards, as this ISO standard number does not actually exist! Or perhaps it’s symptomatic of the whole sustainability of its shipbreaking practice: big declarations, but no results?

 

We wanted to know specifically whether MSC could confirm that all these requirements are fulfilled by the yards in Alang used by that company. For a company that prides itself on its corporate social responsibility, the response was again disappointing: “We hereby confirm that we are not able to satisfy your request.”

 

 

Poort track record in Alang

The beach at Alang is where the business practices of MSC and the destiny of Bhuddabhai converge, although with a time lag. On 4 August 2009, the MSC Jessica caught fire while it was being disassembled on a beach in Alang, resulting in the deaths of six workers. In 2011, the container ship MSC Chitra collided with the Khalijia3 in the port of Mumbai. After a long effort to remove most of the containers from the ship, the MSC Chitra was sold to be scrapped in Alang. But after it became clear that the ship was too damaged to be towed even the relatively short distance to Alang, Indian authorities ordered that it be sunk outside of Indian territorial waters. In 2017, not even a year before Bhuddabhai’s accident, the MSC Alice was scrapped at the Honey Ship Breaking yard in Alang. Although its certifications suggest that the yard is one of the better ones in Alang, the accident on 31 August 2018, in which two workers died while dismantling a cruise ship, shows that such privately issued certificates claiming compliance with the weak standards of the Hong Kong Convention fail to combat even the worst dangers of shipbreaking.

 

© Pradeep Shukla 2015

 

 

This story, which has been published also by Public Eye, is just an extract of a bigger investigation. Click here or on the image below to access the full investigation report.

 

 

Shedding light on hidden facts can change the world: this strong belief led Public Eye to set up the Investigation Award on the occasion of its 50th birthday to support the work of journalists or NGOs that investigate the practices of companies and their harmful ramifications on developing or emerging countries.

 

A prestigious jury selected two projects from 55 proposals submitted from over 20 countries. They received crowdfunding – over 300 people contributed to our participative funding-raising campaign. They allowed Nicola Mulinaris, from the NGO Shipbreaking Platform and Gie Goris of MO* magazine (Belgium), to carry out this investigation, and enabled Marie Maurisse to reveal the secret recipes of Swiss cigarette companies

 

 

MO* Magazine/NGO SBP/Public Eye - Behind the hypocrisy of better beaches

Platform News – Greenpeace regrets beaching of Rongdhonu (ex Rainbow Warrior II)

The NGO Shipbreaking Platform regrets that the Rongdhonu, former Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior II, has been sold for scrapping on the beaches of Chittagong, Bangladesh. Greenpeace International had donated their former flagship to another NGO, Friendship, for use as a hospital ship in Bangladesh. This NGO sold the vessel for breaking in Chittagong under supervision of Greenpeace.

 

Greenpeace has issued a statement of regret and of their full support for the NGO Shipbreaking Platform’s campaign to get ship recycling off the beach. Indeed, Greenpeace campaigned on this issue for many years.

 

The NGO Shipbreaking Platform, an alliance of human rights, labour, and environmental non-governmental organizations working internationally to raise the standard of ship recycling, agrees with the European Union (EU) that ship recycling must take place off the beach and in safe, secure facilities that the EU has listed based on environmental and social criteria. We will continue to work with leaders in the industry and governments to reform the shipping industry’s substandard practices that every year cause fatalities, occupational disease, and irreparable harm to the marine environment.

Press Release – Recent fires at Gadani yards prompt authorities to shut down all shipbreaking activities

NGOs call for the relocation of the industry to facilities equipped for safe and clean recycling

On 11 October a tanker caught fire at the Gadani shipbreaking beach that holds a deplorable record of life threatening accidents. Fortunately, no casualties were recorded. Only a few days later, on 14 October, yet another oil tanker named KRITI (IMO 9270737) caught fire, this time injuring seven workers, three of which are in a critical condition.

 

The Platform has reported a series of accidents following the catastrophic explosion that killed at least 29 workers and injured 58 on the 1st of November 2016. Since then, there have been at least five more fires caused by unsafe cutting operations. Difficult access for firefighters, a severe lack of ambulances and no hospital in the close vicinity of the yards aggravate the conditions, as reported by trade unions.

 

Following the major blast in 2016, Pakistani authorities imposed a ban on the import of tankers in addition to a ban on cutting operations. The ban on import was however lifted in April 2018 after 18 months’ freeze. Due to the use of the low-cost method of beaching and the favorable steel market conditions, the Gadani yards offer high prices for end-of-life ships, and soon 22 tankers were waiting for the cutting ban to also be repealed. One local breaker nonetheless started scrapping the VLCC ADA before the authorities lifted the cutting ban, and a fire erupted onboard the tanker in July. Despite the accident, and the fact that few measures had been put in place to ensure safe working conditions, the government issued cutting permissions in late August, putting the life of the workers in danger and prompting the import of additional vessels.

"Ship owners should be held accountable. They carelessly sell vessels to cash buyers that bring the ships to the Pakistani yards. The high profit margin is a clear indicator of destination: the higher the price, the worse the yard. We are concerned over the political clout ship owners seem to enjoy: Greek owners alone are responsible for 1/3 of the ships that are currently beached in Gadani, yet Greece is pushing hard to undermine European laws aimed at improving practices globally."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

In contrast to the fire that broke out in July onboard a vessel that had not received cutting permission, the Balochistan Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had approved the breaking of both vessels that caught fire last week. The two accidents underpin that not only the ship owners and yard operators fail to take necessary precautions, but also that the Balochistan EPA acted negligently when approving the work to start. Fires occur when vessels that are not properly cleaned from highly inflammable residual oil are cut with blowtorches.

"Without having conducted a proper inspection, the Balochistan Environmental Protection Agency first issued NOC (no objection certificate) for the breaking of the Kriti crude oil tanker. After the blast that injured seven workers, they issued a ban on all shipbreaking activities in Gadani, leaving hundreds of workers unemployed. We call on the authorities to take serious steps to move the industry away from the Gadani beach and to a location where proper infrastructure can ensure safe working conditions and pollutants can be controlled."
Dr Muhammad Irfan Khan - Professor at the Islamabad University and Board Member of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform.
Shipbreaking Workers Union and NTUF jointly organized a protest rally in Gadani against the increase in accidents and the closure of the yards

Press Release – Europe has capacity to recycle its ships, new data shows – yet shipowners want to use dangerous, polluting yards abroad

Ship recycling yards approved by the EU will have enough capacity to handle demand from EU-flagged ships that need to be scrapped, a new analysis shows. The shipping industry wants low-cost ship ‘breaking’ yards outside the EU – with dangerous working conditions and poor environmental standards – to be added to the EU list of approved facilities in order to meet demand from vessels bound by the bloc’s ship recycling law, which enters force on 1 January 2019. But the current EU list can accommodate the numbers and sizes of EU-flagged ships that are scrapped every year, the new report by NGOs Shipbreaking Platform and Transport & Environment (T&E) shows.

 

Damen Verolme Rotterdam ship recycling yard – © DAMEN / Offshore Ship Recycling Rotterdam – OSRR

The 20 EU yards currently recognised as meeting ship-recycling standards have had the capacity to handle all EU ships broken since 2015, the report shows. Shipbreaking Platform and T&E said lawmakers should not succumb to pressure to either delay the implementation of the regulation or add sub-standard shipbreaking facilities – which would never be allowed to operate in EU countries – to the EU list.

 

Yards that use the beaching method are of particular concern. Vessels are full of hazardous materials, including asbestos, chlorine compounds, heavy metals and residue oils. On a tidal mudflat it is not possible to contain these toxics – instead they are washed out to the sea, and ravage coastal ecosystems. Without proper protective equipment, workers are also sickened and exposed to unnecessary risk. Accidents at the beaching yards kill or maim young men each year due to unsafe practices. [1]

 

"The shipowners’ capacity claims are a clear red herring. Alternatives to beaching end-of-life ships exist. It boils down to not accepting the low occupational safety and environmental protection standards that allow many unapproved yards to operate cheaply."
Ingvild Jenssen - Executive Director and Founder - NGO Shipbreaking Platform

Shipowners misleadingly cite the EU yards’ historical capacity to claim that they are over-capacity. However, this does not take into account the EU facilities operating under capacity due to being undercut by sub-standard competition overseas. It also ignores the capacity of newly-opened yards which are just starting to operate.

 

"The business of breaking EU ships is an opportunity to boost circular economy and create green jobs in Europe. EU-listed yards have the capacity to break all EU-flagged ships and more. There is no excuse for sending ships to dangerous and polluting yards on beaches overseas."
Lucy Gilliam- Shipping Officer - T&E

The European Commission, national experts and stakeholders meet on 3 October to discuss the implementation of the regulation.

 

Press Release – NGO Shipbreaking Platform presents Annual Report 2017

The NGO Shipbreaking Platform presents its Annual Report 2017.

 

The NGO Shipbreaking Platform works to ensure that vessels are recycled without causing harm to workers and the environment. Thanks to our continued efforts, concerned policy makers, progressive investors and banks, and law enforcers are now echoing the Platform’s demand. Read more about this in our new Annual Report.

 

We need your support to effectively prevent the human rights abuses and environmental injustice provoked when ships are traded to dirty and dangerous breaking yards! Share this publication and make a donation.

Download the Platform’s Annual Report 2017 here.