Platform publishes South Asia Quarterly Update #20

There were a total of 122 ships broken in the third quarter of 2019. Of these, 73 ships were sold to the beaches of South Asia for dirty and dangerous breaking [1]. Between July and September, eleven workers have lost their lives and twenty were severely injured when breaking ships in Bangladesh and India. So far this year, the Platform has recorded 19 deaths and 30 severe injuries in South Asia.

 

 

 

Cutter helper Mamun Hossen (35) was killed on 3 July when he was crushed by a falling steel plate at Tahsin Steel Corp shipbreaking yard in Chattogram, Bangladesh. 

 

On 23 July, cutter man Shahidul (40) lost his life while working at Kabir Steel’s Khawja shipbreaking yard in Chattogram, Bangladesh. Shahidul was dismantling the container ship EVER UNION (IMO 9116618), owned by Taiwanese shipping giant Evergreen, when he fell from a great height. He died on the spot. Following the accident, the government imposed a three month ban on the import of end-of-life vessel on the yard, and has demanded that safety measures are taken. Already in 2018, Scandinavian investors withdrew their funds from Evergreen due to the company’s poor shipbreaking practices.

 

On 30 July, fitter men Nantu Hossen (24), Rasel Matabbor (25) and Chobidul (26) lost their lives due to a toxic gas leak on board the tanker MEDELIN ATLAS at Mak Corporation yard in Chattogram, Bangladesh. At least six other workers were severely injured. According to shipping databases, the vessel was sold for breaking by Indonesian ship owner Waruna Nusa Sentana. 

 

During the scrapping of the Greek-owned container ship CSL VIRGINIA (IMO 9289568) at Ziri shipbreaking yard in Bangladesh, a heavy cable collapsed on 31 August, hitting several workers at once. Aminul Islam (35) and Tushar Chakma (27) lost their lives. Thirteen other workers suffered severe injuries and were taken to Chattogram Medical College Hospital for treatment. 

 

The circumstances of two additional fatalities at the shipbreaking yards in Chattogram this quarter still remain unclear.

 

According to Indian media, two workers died on the shipbreaking beach of Alang in the last quarter. Two separate accidents took place at scrapping yards that have applied to be included in the EU list of approved ship recycling facilities and are promoted by the industry as “safe and green”. On 29 July, Subash Vishwakarma lost his life when a metal plate fell on his head at Priya Blue yard - Plot V1. On 3 September, an explosion during cutting operations caused the death of one worker and severely injured another worker at Shree Ram’s yard Plot 78/81. In September, Dutch TV revealed the dire working conditions at a yard owned by Priya Blue, and the trafficking of false inventories of hazardous materials to hide high levels of mercury onboard offshore units.

 

In the third quarter of 2019, Japanese, American and Greek ship owners sold the most ships to South Asian yards, followed by Indonesian and South Korean owners. 

 

Almost half of the ships sold to South Asia this quarter changed flag to the registries of Comoros, Gabon, Palau and St. Kitts and Nevis just weeks before hitting the beach. These flags are not typically used during the operational life of ships and offer ‘last voyage registration’ discounts. They are particularly popular with the middlemen that purchase vessels cash from ship owners, and are grey- and black-listed due to their poor implementation of international maritime law. The high number of flag changes at end-of-life seriously compromises the effectiveness of legislation based on flag state jurisdiction only, such as the EU Ship Recycling Regulation. 

 

Criminal investigations have been launched by authorities in Europe following Platform alerts of imminent illegal exports of toxic end-of-life vessels. The case of the ferry SIR ROBERT BOND is, however, illustrative of the Canadian government’s lack of action. In the last two years, the ship was bought and sold several times: from the Canadian government to a peat moss producer in New Brunswick, to an agent in Quebec, who allegedly sold it for scrap to Indian breakers. In May, the Platform alerted competent authorities about the imminent illegal export of the vessel to South Asia from Canada. Despite authorities having been informed, the owner managed to illegally tow the unit to Alang, where it was beached a few weeks ago.

 

NOTES

 

[1] During the second quarter of 2019, the following number of vessels were broken in other locations: 35 in Turkey, 5 in China, 4 in Europe and 5 in the rest of the world.

 

Platform publishes South Asia Quarterly Update #19

There were a total of 193 ships broken in the second quarter of 2019. Of these, 146 ships were sold to the infamous scrapping beaches of South Asia, where working conditions are known to be dire and breaking practices cause irreparable damage to the coastal environment [1]. Between April and June, Platform sources recorded three accidents that killed at least five workers on the beach of Chittagong, Bangladesh, bringing the total death-toll of the shipbreaking industry this year to at least eight workers. 

 

 

In the early morning of 15 May, a loud blast shook the Chittagong shipbreaking area. A fire broke out on board the vessel BUNGA KELANA 4 (IMO 9178343), beached at Mahinur Ship Breaking yard, also known as Premium Trade Corporation. Video footage of the attempts to rescue workers showed extremely rudimentary conditions and a total lack of appropriate emergency response and equipment. Cutter men Mohammod Rubel, Hamidul Islam and Md Jolil lost their lives in the accident. Four other workers suffered severe burn injuries. Platform member organisation OSHE reports that the death of another worker, Tara Miya, was covered up in the same yard just a few days before the tragic event. On 20 May, Md Manik died when electrocuted at Bathiari Steel. He had been tasked with the illegal construction of barge. 

 

At least another six workers were severely injured at the Bangladeshi shipbreaking yards last quarter. Two were injured when a fire broke out on the bulk carrier COMPROMISE (IMO 9044475) on 28 May. According to maritime databases and local sources, the ship was sold by South Korean SK Shipping to HM Steel shipbreaking yard in Chittagong. 

 

Accident records in Gadani, Pakistan and Alang, India, are extremely difficult to obtain. The local government in Alang does not publish any official statistics, and it systematically refuses to provide civil society organisations and independent journalists access to the yards. Recently stopped by the Gujarat Maritime Board, journalists from French public television were forced to hand over their camera so their footage could be deleted. Part of their video material, however, managed to see the light of day and was aired in June. It effectively reveals the poor working and environmental conditions that the local authorities in Alang seek to hide.

 

In Bangladesh, it was revealed that the shipbreaking company BBC Ship Breaking had been fraudulently given the permission by local authorities to wipe out a protected mangrove forest in order to establish a new yard. Following the filing of a complaint by Platform member organisation BELA, the High Court imposed a six months’ stay on the lease contract and have asked the local authorities to explain why they blatantly ignore national forest protection laws. In 2009, 14.000 mangrove trees were illegally cut to expand the dirty and dangerous shipbreaking activities in Chittagong. Despite a clear order by the High Court in 2010, none of these trees have been replanted.

 

Poor enforcement of national and international environmental and labour laws causes irreparable damage to the environment, workers and local communities. As yards can avoid costs linked to proper environmental protection and the respect of labour rights, their lower operational costs render them a financially more profitable end-of-life destination for ship owners. In the second quarter of 2019, Japanese, Saudi Arabian and Greek ship owners sold the most ships to South Asian yards, followed by Indonesian and South Korean owners. 

 

All ships sold to the Chittagong, Alang and Gadani yards pass via the hands of scrap-dealers, also known as cash buyers, that most often re-register and re-flag the vessels on their final voyage. Grey- and black-listed flags of convenience are particularly popular with cash buyers, and more than half of the ships sold to South Asia this quarter changed flag to the registries of Comoros, Niue, Palau and St. Kitts and Nevis just weeks before hitting the beach. These flags are not typically used during the operational life of ships and offer ‘last voyage registration’ discounts. They are grey- and black-listed due to their poor implementation of international maritime law. 

 

The high number of flag changes should induce serious concerns with regards to the effectiveness of legislation based on flag state jurisdiction only, such as the EU Ship Recycling Regulation which became applicable on 1 January 2019. According to the Regulation, EU-flagged vessels have to be recycled in one of the 34 approved facilities included in the EU list. The Platform recorded at least two ships that de-registered from an European flag registry prior the last voyage to South Asia in order to circumvent the legislation. Both the Maltese-flagged ALPHA MILLENIUM and the Greek-flagged MARVELLOUS, which maritime sources link to Greek shipping company Alpha Bulkers, swapped their flags to Comoros prior reaching the beach of Chittagong, Bangladesh. 

 

The Platform has found that at least five other vessels [2], owned by Danish Maersk, Greek Chartworld Group, Greek Costamare and Norwegian KGJS (Kristian Gerhard Jebsen Skipsrederi), called at EU ports before starting their final voyage towards the shipbreaking beaches. It is likely that the decisions to export the assets for scrap were taken by these companies while on EU waters, in direct breach of the EU Waste Shipment Regulation. Clearly, more efforts are needed to ensure proper enforcement of current legislation on ship recycling as highest profit seems to be the only decisive factor most ship owners take into account when selling their vessels for breaking. 

 

 

NOTES

 

[1] During the second quarter of 2019, the following number of vessels were broken in other locations: 27 in Turkey, 5 in China, 3 in Europe and 12 in the rest of the world.

 

[2] CLAES MAERSK (IMO 9064396), CHILEAN REEFER (IMO 8917546), ELAFONISOS (IMO 9179816), SKS TIETE (IMO 9172650), SKS TANARO (IMO 9172662).

 

Platform publishes South Asia Quarterly Update #18

There were a total of 181 ships broken in the first quarter of 2019. Of these, 142 ships were sold to the beaches of South Asia where they were broken under conditions that cause irreversible damage to both human health and the environment [1]. Between January and March, three workers have lost their lives and four were severely injured when breaking ships in Bangladesh. 

 

 

On 28 January, according to local sources, Md Motiur Rahman lost his life while working at S. S. Green Ship Breaking yard, located on the beach of Chittagong, Bangladesh. Twenty days later, a fire broke out in the engine room on board the Greek-owned Polembros’ tanker S WARRIOR at Shagorika Ship Breaking Yard, killing workers Md Jamil and Bipul. 

 

No severe accidents were reported in India and Pakistan. Whilst information on accidents in Alang remain difficult to obtain due to lack of access and transparency, a significant decrease in scrapping activities has no doubt contributed to a quarter with no recorded accidents in Gadani. In the last six months, 70% of the workers are said to have lost their job. 

 

In the first quarter of 2019, US, Saudi Arabian and Singaporean ship owners sold the most ships to South Asian yards, followed by Greek and South Korean owners. 

 

Data keep showing significant activity in the decommissioning of oil and gas units. At least 12 offshore assets reached the end of their lives in the first three months of this year. Transocean Ltd., based in Switzerland and listed on the New York Stock Exchange, is the offshore drilling contractor that scrapped most units in the last decade. Despite being under the spotlight for a series of accidents involving some of its drilling units [2], the company always distinguished itself for having adopted a good end-of-life fleet management policy that required the use of recycling yards that do not operate on tidal beaches. Regrettably, Transocean, however, recently took the decision to scrap its semi-submersible platform JACK BATES (IMO 8755780) on the beach of Alang, India. The platform was beached in February at R.K. Industries (Unit-II), one of the yards that are part of the Shree Ram Group. Shree Ram claims its yards are amongst the best facilities operating on the Alang beach. Ship owners, such as Danish Maersk, praise the company’s practices. However, past media reports and a recent inspection visit to one of its plots by the European Commission have flagged serious concerns related to e.g. pollution of the intertidal area, absence of medical facilities, breaches of labour rights and lack of capacity to manage certain hazardous wastes downstream. Indeed, the facility did not meet the safety and environmental requirements for EU approval and was thus not added to the EU list.

 

Norwegian Grieg Green, ship recycling consultancy fully owned by Grieg Star, facilitated the sale of the JACK BATES and will monitor the scrapping operations on the ground. This is the first time Grieg Green offers its expertise on a demolition project taking place on a South Asian beach. Whilst its parent company has recently hit the news for being one of the first ship owners to scrap a vessel responsibly under the new EU Ship Recycling Regulation at Leyal ship recycling yard in Turkey, Grieg Green seems to have abandoned the Grieg Group’s off the beach stance. 

 

More than half of the ships sold to South Asia this quarter changed flag to the registries of Comoros, Niue, Palau and St. Kitts and Nevis just weeks before hitting the beach. All ships sold to the Chittagong, Alang and Gadani yards pass via the hands of scrap-dealers, also known as cash buyers, that often re-register and re-flag the vessel on its final voyage. Grey- and black-listed flags of convenience are particularly popular with cash buyers. These flags are not typically used during the operational life of ships and offer ‘last voyage registration’ discounts. They are grey- and black-listed due to their poor implementation of international maritime law. The high number of flag changes should alert authorities towards the ineffectiveness of legislation, including the EU Ship Recycling Regulation, which is based on flag state enforcement only.

 

The EU Ship Recycling Regulation became applicable on 1 January 2019. According to the Regulation, EU-flagged vessels have to be recycled in approved facilities included in the EU list. At least five ships were scrapped in accordance with the new requirements. However, the Platform recorded at least seven ships that swapped their European flag to that of a non-EU registry prior the last voyage to the shipbreaking yard in order to circumvent the legislation. Beaching yards do not feature on the EU list as they do not comply with the Regulation's requirements.

 

The case of the container ship BOXY LADY (IMO 9108386), owned by Greek Aims Shipping Corporation, illustrates how ship owners circumvent the law. In November 2018, the Platform alerted Spanish authorities about the imminent illegal export under the EU Waste Shipment Regulation of the Malta-flagged ship from the port of Vigo. Despite authorities having been informed, the vessel started its voyage towards Bangladesh. Aims Shipping Corporation then also managed to circumvent the EU Ship Recycling Regulation by changing the flag of the vessel to Bahamas in December 2018, just prior to its beaching in Chittagong in March.  

 

The shipping industry claims that it is forced to re-flag as there is not enough capacity on the EU List. A report published in September last year by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform and Transport & Environment, however, showed that there was more than enough capacity, both in terms of tonnage and size, to cater for the EU flagged end-of-life fleet. Since then, two Turkish yards, a yard in the US and more European yards have been added to the list. This week the European Commission also announced that it intends to add a further eight yards operating in Denmark, Norway and Turkey to the List. Clearly, however, more efforts to detect violations of European waste law and stronger incentives, such as a return scheme for all vessels trading in the EU, are needed to ensure use of the EU list and proper enforcement of current legislation on ship recycling. 

 

 

NOTES

 

[1] During the first quarter of 2019, the following number of vessels were broken in other locations: 20 in Turkey, 1 in China, 8 in Europe and 10 in the rest of the world.

 

[2] The explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, the leak off the Brazilian coast caused by the Sedco 706 and the grounding of the Transocean Winner hurt the offshore giant’s reputation. 

 

Platform publishes South Asia Quarterly Update #17

There were a total of 113 ships broken in the third quarter of 2018. Of these, 79 ships were sold to the beaches of South Asia for dirty and dangerous breaking [1]. Between July and September, three workers have lost their lives when breaking ships in Alang, India. So far this year, Platform sources have recorded 24 deaths and 9 injuries in South Asia.

 

 

On 27 August, according to trade unions, Naago Singh lost his life while working at Shri Gaitam Ship Breaking yard, located on the beach of Alang, India. Four days later, workers Budhabhai and Ali Ahmed died at Alang yard Honey Ship Breaking, owned by RKB Group. While cutting the cruise ship OCEAN GALA (formerly known as MS Scandinavia and MS Island Escape), they both fell and died on the spot. The OCEAN GALA was an iconic vessel, having featured in TV documentaries and been previously owned and/or operated by well-known companies such as DFDS, Royal Caribbean Cruises and Thomson Cruises during its 36 years of operational life. In 2018, after spending several months laid up in Dubai Khalifa, the OCEAN GALA sailed to Alang, where it was beached on 4 April.

 

No severe accidents were reported in Bangladesh and Pakistan. In Chittagong, a significant decrease in scrapping activities due to the monsoon season and increased pressure for safe working conditions from the Platform’s member organisations on local authorities, following the disastrous accident record of the first half of 2018, have no doubt contributed to a quarter with no recorded accidents. In Gadani, however, a fire broke out in July on the German-owned tanker ADA beached at plot 116. Luckily, the rescue team successfully evacuated all the workers from the ship. Activities at Gadani continue to take place in breach of decent working and environmental standards. This type of incident could have been avoided if the ban on dismantling oil tankers, which was placed following a series of accidents in 2016 and 2017, had not been lifted in April 2018.

 

In the third quarter of 2018, US, Greek and Indian ship owners sold the most ships to South Asian yards with 10 vessels beached each, followed by German and Singaporean owners. Industry sources report that the South Asian market received fewer vessels in the third quarter due to, inter alia, the monsoon season, Eid holidays and a decline in both steel prices and currencies.

 

Norwegian ship owners continue to sell ships for scrapping in South Asia. In June, Nordic American Tankers (NAT), incorporated in Bermuda and stock-listed in New York, reported the sale of eight ships for 80 million dollars. Three of these vessels ended up on the beach of Alang for breaking – five reached the beach of Chittagong, Bangladesh. According to local sources in Bangladesh, the cutting operations of most of these ships have started without the required permission of the Department of Explosives and other relevant authorities. The NORDIC SATURN was delivered to Bangladeshi SNT Shipbreaking Yard, where one worker died last December. The NORDIC JUPITER and the NORDIC FIGHTER were also bought by yards with a particularly poor track record.

 

NAT’s vessel ‘Nordic Saturn’ beached in Chittagong, Bangladesh – © NGO Shipbreaking Platform

 

The Platform continues to closely follow the police investigations on the HARRIER, a Norwegian-owned ship that was arrested as the owners were attempting to illegally export the ship to Pakistan. After being held at a Norwegian port, the vessel finally got permission to be scrapped in Turkey and reached Aliaga in late August. Before arriving Aliaga, the Turkish authorities blamed the HARRIER for a 2,5 km range oil spill in the Izmir province’s coast line. Julia Shipping, the shell company established by cash buyer Wirana and responsible for the transportation of the ship, has allegedly been fined.

 

No ship had a European flag when it was beached last quarter. All ships sold to the Chittagong, Alang and Gadani yards pass via the hands of scrap-dealers, also known as cash-buyers, that often re-register and re-flag the vessel on its final voyage. Grey- and black-listed flags of convenience are particularly popular with cash-buyers, and more than half of the ships sold to South Asia this quarter changed flag to the registries of Comoros, Niue, Palau and St. Kitts and Nevis just weeks before hitting the beach. The high number of flag changes should induce serious concerns with regards to the effectiveness of legislation based on flag state jurisdiction only. These flags are not typically used during the operational life of ships and offer ‘last voyage registration’ discounts. They are grey- and black-listed due to their poor implementation of international maritime law.

 

 

NOTE

 

[1] During the third quarter of 2018, the following number of vessels were broken in other locations: 22 in Turkey, 1 in China, 2 in Europe and 9 in the rest of the world.

 

Platform publishes South Asia Quarterly Update #16

There were a total of 220 ships broken in the second quarter of 2018. Of these, 169 ships were sold to the beaches of South Asia for dirty and dangerous breaking [1]. Between April and June, 6 workers have lost their lives and 7 workers have been severely injured when breaking ships in Chittagong, Bangladesh. Another worker was reported dead after an accident at a shipbreaking yard in Alang, India. So far this year, Platform sources have recorded 18 deaths and 9 injuries in South Asia.

 

 

As reported in our previous update, worker Shahidul Islam died at Zuma Enterprise in April while breaking the Greek tanker EKTA, owned by Anangel Group. Belal Hossain, Md Musa and Md Najmuddin Alazy were all mortally struck by falling iron pieces during the cutting operations at Asadi Steel, KR Steel and S Trading yards respectively. On 22 May, three workers got severely injured at SN Corporation, where two other workers were killed last year. Farid Ahmed, a cutter man from the Gaibanda region, was hit by an iron piece and killed at Janata Steel on 31 May. One month later, 22 years old Nayon, an employee of Kabir Steel’s Khawja shipbreaking yard, lost his life. Local sources claim that the death of Nayon has been treated as a road accident by the yard management, although there are no police records of such a type of accident having taken place. In 2018, there have already been three deaths linked to Kabir Steel.

 

According to local sources, three yards in which fatalities occurred this quarter – Kabir Steel, SN Corporation and Janata Steel – are clients of Standard Chartered Bank (SCB), although the bank neither confirmed nor denied this when asked. SN Corporation and Kabir Steel are recurring names on the list of companies involved in the death of shipbreaking workers. Janata Steel is the company that bought the infamous FPSO North Sea Producer for which the Bangladesh Supreme Court is expected to pronounce itself shortly with regards to its illegal import. A responsible financer is expected to divest from companies that have an extremely bad track record and continue to ignore basic health and safety precautions for the purpose of cutting costs.

 

In India, one accident in Alang, which cost the life of a worker, was reported: on 13 April, Ravindra Chaudhari, who was working in Plot 2, was hit by a falling steel plate and died. Plot 2, which has applied to be on the EU List of approved ship recycling facilities, and was one of the first yards in Alang to receive a so-called Statement of Compliance with the Hong Kong Convention by ClassNK, is the main yard of Leela Ship Recycling Pvt. Ltd. Apart from this incident, little is known about accident records in Alang as no information is made publically available by the authorities, and access to the yards by civil society organisations and journalists is not allowed.

 

In the second quarter of 2018, American ship owners sold the most ships to the South Asian yards with 26 vessels beached, followed by Greek and UAE owners. American company Tidewater was the worst corporate dumper with fifteen vessels beached. In the end of April, Pakistan re-opened the market to the import of tankers. In two months alone, twenty-two tankers reached the shores of Gadani to be scrapped. Industry sources report that devaluing freight rates have contributed to the demolition of over 100 tankers in the first half of 2018.

 

Only three ships had a European flag – Greece, Malta and Norway – when they were beached last quarter. All ships sold to the Chittagong, Alang and Gadani yards pass via the hands of scrap-dealers, also known as cash-buyers, that often re-register and re-flag the vessel on its final voyage. Grey- and black-listed flags of convenience are particularly popular with cash-buyers, and more than half of the ships sold to South Asia this quarter changed flag to the registries of Comoros, Niue, Palau and St. Kitts and Nevis just weeks before hitting the beach. This is the highest number of flag changes recorded by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform and raises serious concerns with regards to the effectiveness of legislation based on flag state jurisdiction. These flags are not typically used during the operational life of ships and offer ‘last voyage registration’ discounts. They are grey- and black-listed due to their poor implementation of international maritime law.

 

NOTE

 

[1] During the second quarter of 2018, the following number of vessels were broken in other locations: 33 in Turkey, 5 in China, 4 in Europe and 9 in the rest of the world.

 

Platform publishes South Asia Quarterly Update #15

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

NOTE

 

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

 

Platform publishes South Asia Quarterly Update #14

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

NOTE

 

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

 

Platform publishes South Asia Quarterly Update #13

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

NOTES

 

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

 

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

 

Platform publishes South Asia Quarterly Update #12

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

NOTE

 

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

 

Platform publishes South Asia Quarterly Update #11

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

 

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