21 May 2019

Major explosion at Bangladesh shipbreaking yard kills two shipbreaking workers and severely injures five

A loud blast in the early morning shook the Chittagong shipbreaking area. At around 8:30 AM, a fire broke out on board the vessel BUNGA KELANA 4 (IMO 9178343), beached at Mahinur Ship Breaking yard. The flames spread from abandoned waste oil located close to the engine room where workers were torch-cutting steel parts.

 Mohammod Rubel, 25 years old cutter man, lost his life in the accident. He died on his way to the hospital. Hamidul Islam’s dead body was instead found on the ship several hours after the explosion. Five other workers, aged 19-30, suffered severe burn injuries and are now being treated at the Chattogram Medical College Hospital. The condition of one of them is extremely critical. Local sources report that several workers might still be missing.

Video footage from the accident shows that there was no emergency response equipment available at the yard. Barefoot workers without protective gear are seen carrying the injured. Bangladeshi organisation OSHE, member of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, reports that the death of a worker, Tara Miya, was covered up in the same yard just a few days ago.

“The conditions at Mahinur Ship Breaking are shocking and unfortunately telling of the overall appalling working conditions at the Bangladeshi shipbreaking yards. Workers are exposed to enormous risks because there is no infrastructure available on the beach to ensure safe working conditions and rapid emergency response,” says Muhammed Ali Shahin from NGO Shipbreaking Platform member organisation YPSA.

 The BUNGA KELANA 4 was beached at Mahinur Ship Breaking six months ago. It was owned by Malaysian shipping company AET Tankers, a wholly owned subsidiary of MISC, the leading Malaysian energy logistics company listed on the Malaysia stock exchange. In 2018, AET Tankers sold four vessels for scrapping on the beaches of South Asia. Three ended up in Bangladesh; one was beached in India.

 Before its final voyage the vessel changed its name to KELANA 4, and its Malaysian flag was swapped to that of Comoros. These are clear indicators that the vessel was brought to the beaching yard with the help of a scrap-dealer known as cash buyer. The use of black- and grey-listed flags, such as Comoros, Palau and St Kitts and Nevis, as well as anonymous post-box companies to register the ships, renders it very difficult for authorities to trace and hold ship owners liable for illicit business practices that cause the loss of life, injuries and irreparable damage to the environment.

One of the injured worker at Chattogram Medical College Hospital, Chattogram

 The explosion on the BUNGA KELANA 4 follows another recent tragic event that took place in February, when two workers were killed by a fire on board a tanker owned by Greek Polembros Shipping. In the last ten years, hundreds of workers have lost their lives and suffered severe injuries due to dirty and dangerous shipbreaking practices in Bangladesh. Many more suffer from exposure to toxic fumes and materials that are embedded within the ships’ structures. Breaking apart ships on tidal beaches also causes irreparable damage to the environment. Only yesterday it was revealed that another shipbreaking company, BBC Ship Breaking, had been 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 shipbreaking activities in Chittagong.

“It is high time for the Bangladesh government to regulate their shipbreaking industry and put a halt to the systematic violations of national labour and environmental protection laws”, says Ingvild Jenssen, Director of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform. “This latest tragic explosion adds to the shipping industry’s appalling toll on human lives and should act as a wake-up call for the financiers and customers of shipping to demand recycling practices off the beach and in line with the standards set by international waste laws and labour conventions”, she adds.

Source: Hellenic Shipping News. 16 May 2019

25 March 2019

Norwegian pension funds turn their attention towards Indian shipbreaking practices

Brussels, 20 March 2019 - Last week the Council on Ethics of the Norwegian oil pension fund (Government Pension Fund Global) announced that it will turn its attention towards Indian shipbreaking practices. This may well result in further divestments from shipping companies with poor shipbreaking records.

In 2018, the Council on Ethics had already advised the fund to divest from companies, including container line Evergreen, selling their end-of-life vessels to shipbreaking yards located in Pakistan and Bangladesh “due to an unacceptable risk that the companies are contributing to serious environmental damage and gross violations of human rights”.

KLP, Norway’s largest private pension fund, followed suit and blacklisted the same companies. In January, KLP also blacklisted Nordic American Tankers (NAT) following the sale of ten oil tankers for dirty and dangerous scrapping on beaching yards in South Asia. The Bermuda-registered company, controlled from Norway by Herbjørn Hanson, was firstly confronted by KLP and criticised by Norwegian press for having sold eight ships for scrapping to South Asia in 2018, ensuring NAT a 80 million dollar scrapping revenue. Five vessels ended up in Chittagong, Bangladesh; three ended up in Alang, India. The sale of two additional vessels to Bangladeshi yards with terrible accident records prompted KLP to blacklist NAT earlier this year.

“KLP’s goal is that no ship ends up on a beach where irresponsible scrapping practices take place. It is the ship owners’ responsibility to identify which standards, routines and processes they need to comply with to ensure safe and responsible ship recycling”, said Håvard Gulbrandsen, CEO of KLP.

The European Commission recently announced that two Indian yards (i.e. Priya Blue Industries Pvt. Ltd, Shree Ram Vessel Scrap Pvt. Ltd) that applied for inclusion in the European List of ship recycling facilities do not comply with the EU Ship Recycling Regulation. The site inspections and technical assessments, done by the classification society DNV GL, identified several areas where the yards do not meet the requirements for clean and safe ship recycling.

Source: NGO Shipbreaking Platform

24 February 2019

Markets- Recycling- vessels head for Bangladesh

The week before the Chinese New Yea finally brought some semblance of stability to a ship recycling market that seemed to be in freefall during the previous month.

Indeed, most cash buyers have struggled to offload their existing overpriced inventories at anywhere near sensible/breakeven levels, resulting in something of a panic, GMS said in its weekly report.

The majority of these vessels are now heading to the only bullish market (Bangladesh), in the hopes of salvaging whatever little could be financially scraped out of a deal.

Pakistan remained subdued on the sidelines, despite the announcement of the mini budget recently that brought with it, little material change to the domestic steel and ship recycling sectors.

India also remained mostly absent from buying, as local steel plate prices continued their weekly volatile dance, leaving most end buyers in a conservative mood, intent on securing bargain green or offshore units below the $400 per ldt mark.

The focus remained on Bangladesh, where local the port report showed a multitude of vessels arriving by the week and the number of capable (in terms of ready and available LCs) and keen end buyers remain few and far between.

As local capacity continued to gradually dwindle, those cash buyers with expensive inventories will be left holding a rather heavy bag.

Moreover, once the appetite in Bangladesh starts to shrink, we can certainly expect prices to fall in line with the much reduced Indian and Pakistani markets,  ie somewhere in the low $400s per ldt and perhaps lower for certain sized/types of vessels.

Source: tanker operator. 11 February 2019

Two killed in shipyard blast

Yet again, poor workplace safety exposed; authorities allegedly tried to cover up

Two workers were killed and another was injured in an oil tanker explosion at a ship-breaking yard in Chattogram's Sitakunda upazila yesterday.

The deceased are Md Jalil, 32, and Bipul Chandra, 30, of Barishal's Babuganj upazila. The injured, Md Masud, 26, was undergoing treatment at Sitakunda Upazila Health Complex.

An oil tanker of MTS Warrior, weighing around 38,000 tonnes, exploded when 17 workers were cutting the tanker around 8:30am at Sagorika Shipyard, said Proddut Ghosh Chowdhury, sub-inspector of Sitakunda Police Station.

Earlier, four workers died in two incidents there in 2012 and 2013.

Mostafijur Rahman, inspector of Chattogram directorate of environment, said the shipyard did not follow the guideline for safety, causing the accident.

The explosion happened when sparks came into contact with the oil of the tanker, he added.

However, Shamsul Alam, owner of the shipyard, claimed that they ensured utmost safety for workers. This was an accident. “Two-thirds of the ship have already been dismantled.”

Some 27 workers were killed and nine others wounded in different incidents at shipyards in Sitakunda in the last three years since 2016, according to a report of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (Bela).

Jahirul Islam, inspector of Chattogram Medical College Hospital police outpost, told The Daily Star that Jalil was admitted to the hospital in the morning and Bipul in the afternoon. Both died soon after their admission.

After the incident, the shipyard authorities did not allow outsiders to enter there.

All the workers were forced to leave the yard and asked them not to talk to the media, shipyard sources said.

Pabon Chandra, a nephew of deceased Bipul Chandra, told this correspondent that his uncle had no training on ship-breaking, though it was mandatory.

“We heard a loud bang in the morning. When we rushed to the shipyard entrance, they [shipyard authorities] told us that Bipul did not join the work. In the afternoon, they informed us that my uncle was found dead at CMCH,” he said.

His uncle suffered burn injuries from head to waist, Pabon added.

Talking to this correspondent, Shipyard manager Md Harun and supervisor Sahabuddin admitted to the death of Jalil but said Bipul did not join work yesterday.

According to a High Court order in 2010, a ship which will be dismantled needs clearance from the explosives department.

Tofazzal Hossen, inspector of the explosives department in Chattogram, said they issued clearance for breaking the ship two and a half months ago after inspection.

Within the time, gas could form in the tanker, he added.

Source: the daily star. 19 February 2019

President of Gadani ship-breaking workers union dies in police custody

The president of Gadani ship-breaking workers union, Babu Karim Jan, died under mysterious circumstances in Karachi on Sunday morning, soon after being arrested by police from his residence in Metroville, located in the city's SITE area.

The man was allegedly dragged and thrown into the vehicle where police claim he suffered a heart attack. — File 

Police claimed that Jan, who was in his late 60s, was wanted in two attempted murder cases and died after suffering a "heart attack".

According to the deceased's relatives, Iqbal Market police conducted a raid in Metroville at around 1:30am and detained Karim Jan and his son, Amin.

They allegedly dragged and threw him into the police mobile where he died under mysterious circumstances. Later on, the police abandoned his body there and tried to disappear when the residents of the area gathered and made videos of the vehicle which were then shared on social media.

The deceased’s son, Amin, told media that when the police conducted a raid on their home, he informed the police that his father was a heart patient, but they allegedly did not pay heed to his request.

“They (the police) dragged him and threw him into the mobile,” the son alleged.

West SSP Shoukat Ali Khatian while talking to Dawn confirmed that police had arrested the deceased.

“There were two FIRs registered against him over charges of attempted murders and the police arrested him in the same cases,” the officer said. However, the senior officer did not elaborate further.

The body was shifted to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital to fulfil legal formalities.

A post-mortem examination was conducted in the presence of the magistrate concerned by a team of doctors comprising Additional Police Surgeon Dr Saleem Shaikh, Dr Abid Haroon, and Dr Pervez Makhdoom.

The additional police surgeon told Dawn that the cause of death will be determined after a histopathological and chemical examination.

On Sunday evening, the relatives and community members held a protest outside the Karachi Press Club.

The protesters accused the police of "brutally torturing" and killing the elderly man. They demanded the arrest of, and registration of a murder case against, the police party involved.

Meanwhile, National Trade Union Federation leader Nasir Mansoor said the death of a nearly 70-year-old trade union leader was the latest example of “police brutality” in the city and other parts of the country.

He too demanded the arrest of the policemen involved in the incident.

Source: the dawn. 18 February 2019