According to new data released 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. This number amounts to approximately 90% of the gross tonnage dismantled worldwide.
As Ingvild Jenssen – Executive Director and Founder – NGO Shipbreaking Platform, says, Bangladesh remains the most 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
During 2019, at least 26 workers lost their lives when breaking apart the global fleet. The NGO documented accidents that killed 24 workers on the beach of Chattogram (formerly known as Chittagong), making 2019 the worst year for Bangladeshi yards as far as fatalities are concerned since 2010.
What is more, another 34 workers were severely injured. While the overall 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.
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, with 45 ships. Greek owners closely followed with 40 beached vessels.
In addition, the Shipbreaking platform claims that the worst corporate dumper is Evergreen. As it said, in the last years, the company has been under the spotlight for its shipbreaking practices. In addition, four ships owned by Berge Bulk ended up in Bangladesh for dirty and dangerous breaking.
Moreover, Maersk scrapped four vessels on the Indian beaches last year, while other well-known shipping companies that in 2019 dumped their toxic ships on South Asian beaches include:
- CMA CGM;
- Diamond Offshore;
- NYK Line;
In addition, the data by the NGO reports that in India many yards boast having upgraded their beaching facilities to comply with the requirements set by the Hong Kong Convention. However, recent inspection visits by the European Commission in Alang and media reports report 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.
On the positive side, banks, pension funds and other financial institutions are looking on how to contribute to a shift towards better ship recycling practices off the beach, considering social and environmental criteria, not just financial returns, when selecting asset values or clients. Police and environmental authorities are also increasingly monitoring the movements of end-of-life vessels.
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
concluded Nicola Mulinaris – Communication and Policy Officer – NGO Shipbreaking Platform.
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