A total of 133 ships were dismantled in Turkey in 2017, including several drill ships and platforms. In comparison to Southeast Asia, Turkey’s Aliaga-based shipbreaking yards dismantle smaller vessels, many of them either EU-owned or EU-flagged, and several EU navy vessels. Although Turkish yards are preferred option for responsible ship recycling compared to South Asian yards, such as Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, they still face considerable challenges including high accident rate.
NGOs and local labour rights groups, including Platform partner Istanbul Health and Safety Labour Watch (IHSLW), are concerned about the high accident rate and the low awareness of occupational diseases at the Aliaga yards. As in South Asia, trade union organisation remains weak in Aliaga.
, said NGO Shipbreaking Platform in a statement in 2017.
According to data provided by the Platform, Turkey practices the shipbreaking method of landing, where ships are partly pulled ashore and then dismantled both with floating and land-based cranes. Smaller metal pieces are cut down on an impermeable floor in order to avoid the leakage of pollutants into the water and the sediments.
In South Asia, most usual is the beaching method, where shipbreaking is carried out on sandy or muddy beaches and therefore the full containment of pollutants and the adequate management of hazardous wastes are not possible. Moreover, the beaches prevent the use of heavy lifting gear in order to make work safer and less laborious for the workers. Finally, the beaching method does not allow for adequate emergency response by ambulances or fire fighters in cases of accidents as no vehicle can reach out directly to a vessel stuck in the sand.
In contrast with beaching, the landing method, mostly seen in Europe, Turkey and China, ensures that all steps of recycling a ship are made over a drained and contained area, given that it is practiced correctly, Patrizia Heidegger of NGO Shipbreaking Platform has earlier explained.
Although Turkish yards do not do beaching, the landing method which is used also poses environmental challenges, as the risk of slag and paint chips falling into the water is high.
the Platform noted in its latest annual report.
Through engagement with NGOs and labour rights groups, the Turkish Ship Recyclers Association remains attentive to constantly improving the industry practice, and the yards are open to visitors.
Several of the yards in Aliaga have applied to be on the upcoming EU list of approved ship recycling facilities. In order to make it on the EU list, the yards will be subject to critical assessment of their environmental and social performance.