Gadani shipbreaking beach recently experienced two fire incidents. On 11 October a tanker caught fire, with no injuries reported. However, on 14 October, another oil tanker caught fire, injuring seven workers. These incidents made the Balochistan Environmental Protection Agency ban all shipbreaking activities in Gadani.
When the oil tanker caught fire it injured seven, while three of the inured men are considered to be in critical situation.
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Pollutant and dangerous scrapping has been a key area of concern for Pakistani ship recycling industry with no measures for pollution prevention and workers’ health and safety being ‘blatantly ignored’, according to NGO Shipbreaking platform.
The highlight of the shipyard’s heavy history is the explosion of the Aces tanker on 1 November 2016, which claimed lives of 31 workers and serious injury of at least another 58 workers. In the beginning of 2017, five workers lost their lives in another explosion of a tanker in the shipyard.
In response, the breaking of tankers and LPG carriers was banned at Gadani in February 2017.
Regarding the oil tanker that caught fire, the Balochistan Environmental Protection Agency had at first issued NOC (no objection certificate) for its breaking of the Kriti crude oil tanker. After the blast, they issued a ban on all shipbreaking activities in Gadani.
This made Dr Muhammad Irfan Khan, professor at the Islamabad University and Board Member of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, state that:
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.
In its quarterly update, NGO Shipbreaking Platform reported that a total of 113 ships were broken in the Q3 of 2018, and 79 of these ships were sold to the beaches of South Asia for dirty and dangerous breaking.
Meanwhile, between July and September, three workers have lost their lives in shipbreaking in Alang, India. So far this year, Platform sources have recorded 24 deaths and 9 injuries in South Asia.