20 July 2010

Ship Recycling Safety in Pakistan Explored at UN Workshop

Ship Recycling Workshop seeks to improve Pakistan's ability to convert end-of-life ships into recyclable materials and dispose of hazardous wastes safely

Geneva, 16 July 2010 - Recycling the end-of-life ships is a major industry that is a source of steel and other recyclable items. While the industry provides an important source of raw materials and employment to the countries in which it is based, there is concern about the environmental, health and safety standards employed in the dismantling and recycling of vessels that can contain substances ranging from asbestos to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

In an effort to improve the health, safety and environmental standards in the ship recycling industry in Pakistan, the United Nations Environment Programme's Secretariat of the Basel Convention convened a 3-day international workshop on Ship Recycling Technology and Knowledge Transfer in Izmir, Turkey.

The workshop, which was held in cooperation with the Government of Turkey and the Ship Recyclers' Association of Turkey, ended today with progress being made on strengthening the understanding of the Convention's role in the international regulatory regime of ship recycling.

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal has been involved in the issue of ship recycling since the late 1990s. While the Convention applies to the recycling of end-of-life ships, it has been difficult to enforce over the years due to its provisions.

In May 2009, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships. The Convention, which has yet to come into force, places specific requirements on ships from their design and construction to their operation and recycling.

Shipbreaking in Pakistan
The South Asian region, namely India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, dominates the global ship-recycling industry, currently occupying 70 to 80% of the market, with China and Turkey occupying much of the remainder.

A delegation from Pakistan attending the UNEP workshop was comprised of representatives of both Government and industry. They sought to learn from the improvements made in the ship-recycling industry in Turkey and implement the practical, regulatory and institutional changes back home in Pakistan.

Shipbreaking Yard at Gadani, Pakistan
The workshop has been an opportunity to assist the Government of Pakistan and its industry to improve its regulatory, institutional and infrastructural capacity to fulfill the requirements of the Hong Kong Convention and the relevant requirements of the Basel Convention in relation to ship recycling, particularly those dealing with the downstream management of hazardous and other wastes.

"We believe that this workshop does not only address needs of individual countries or regions, but will also contribute towards defining the respective scopes of the two international conventions and will in this way enable a better and clearer international regulatory regime," said Dr. Nikos Mikelis of the IMO.

Speaking of the initiative in Izmir, Ms. Katharina Kummer Peiry, Executive Secretary of the Basel Convention, remarked: "There is a real willingness on the part of the Pakistani Government and industry to make improvements to this important industry and bring about enduing changes to the prevailing safety, health and environmental conditions in Gadani. We are thus grateful to the Government of Turkey and the Ship Recyclers' Association of Turkey for extending a helping hand at this crucial time of need."

For More Information, Please Contact:

Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson/Head of Media, Nairobi, + 254-20-7623084; + 254-733-632755 (m); +41-79-596-5737 (m2),

Michael Stanley-Jones, Press Focal Point/Public Information Officer, Joint Services of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, + 41-22-917-8668; (m) + 41-79-730-4495,
E-mail: msjones@pic.int or SafePlanet@unep.org

Source: UNEP. 16 July 2010

08 July 2010

Pakistan: Shipbreaking Workers Expire Due Injuries

Shipbreaking Worker Expire Due Injuries

Shipbreaking worker Bak Rawan is dead but no body no where is his dead body. It is routine matter for contractors to hide the news about these kind deaths at work place and shift the dead body immediately to ancestral village with the criminal collusion of local police officials.

- Nasir Mansoor; NTUF

Another worker seriously injured at Shipbreaking Yard Gadani


Contractors are forcing the workers to break the strike and resume work. Today at 7am one contractor forced the dozens of workers who reside in the boundary wall of yard to work or leave the residential hut.

Some workers succumbed to the pressure and started to work with out any safety equipment, one worker named “Bak Rawan” fell up side down from the height of 55 feet top of ship and critically injured at plot (yard) 113 owned by Babu Sadiq, there is wide spread rumors that he is dead. No FIR launched till this write up.
Two days ago three workers at plot 68 severely burnt and no body knows what is condition of these workers and in which hospital they are being treated.

Media is largely silent spectator, session court of Lasbella district restrained union leaders from all kind of trade union activities, private canteens (dhabas) and provisions/grocery shops stop to give food and other daily use and consume items on credit on the instruction of contractors, workers are warned to shun union activities otherwise they were ejected from residential quarter, police is with contractors and ship yard owners and government is no where to listen the grievances.

Workers are in high spirit and expecting strong supporting voices from individuals and organizations having serious concern on violation of fundamental rights of shipbreaking workers.

- Nasir Mansoor; National Trade Union Federation, Pakistan

Three shipbreaking workers severely burn

Today is third day of strike. Yesterday owner and contractors try their hard to break the strike but failed however at two or three yards out of 60 yard only ten to fifteen workers forced to work.

Today union make extra measures to persuade the workers to observe the strike, now all yards are stand still except at yard no 68 called “Well Come plot” run by the most dreaded contractor Bakhti Rehman where 15 workers were force to work. Because of no safety measures and proper working chain three worker have been severely burned early morning and there is fire at the ship berth for scrapping. They are now lying at government hospital in Gadani without any treatment. No media is there to take up the issue.

Yesterday session court retrains president and general secretary of the shipbreaking union. From taking part in any union activity at Gadani shipbreaking site till 21 July. COURT FOR WORKERS?

Thousands of workers gathering at union office for the protest rally.
Please use you contacts in media to highlight on going struggle of one of the most deprived section of industries.

- Nasir Mansoor; National Trade Union Federation, Pakistan

Source: Europe Solidaire Sans Frontieres. By MANSOOR Nasir, NTUF. 8 July 2010

05 July 2010

Maersk wants to end “beachings”:

A.P. Moller - Maersk has a policy on responsible ship recycling at least 5 years before international requirements on workplace safety and environment enter into force.

A large part of the world shipping industry still uses once pristine tidal beaches in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan as a junk yard.

Between 60% and 80% of the world’s out-of-service vessels are sailed on shore there and cut to bits and pieces by thousands of workers, often barefooted, and often with no safety protection whatsoever. Accidents, explosions and deaths are commonplace in what is the world’s most dangerous work place, according to the UN’s International Labour Organization, ILO.

The scene is different at the China Changjiang Ship Recycling Yard in Jiangyin near Shanghai.

The yard, used by Maersk, lives up to stringent international standards for safety and environment. Standards that are now also part of the Group policy approved by Maersk’s Executive Board in January.

To date Maersk has successfully recycled ships in China without a single injury.

“When we sell a ship to be recycled in a responsible way, we often get USD 1 million less than what we could have obtained otherwise. But that’s the cost of being a responsible corporate citizen,” says Soren Andersen, Head of Maersk Line Vessel Management.

Traditionally Maersk has sold its ships long before the end of their operating life, but up until the mid-1990s a few of the Group’s vessels were nevertheless scrapped when no better alternatives were available.

Still, Maersk decided early on to invest in responsible dismantling methods and became one of the first movers in the industry. By 2008 the executive arm of the European Union held up Maersk as a good example.

“European ship owners can be expected to act in a spirit of corporate social responsibility. Practical examples for this exist already today,” The European Commission wrote in a strategy paper. The word “examples” referred directly to Maersk.
Now, international requirements are approaching within an estimated five years, and Maersk is making a business out of responsibility. A special unit for ship recycling takes in outside clients as well.

Recycling is a very dangerous business, but it doesn’t have to be more dangerous than building ships. It’s the same thing, only in reverse,” says Tom Peter Blankestijn, Director of Maersk Green Ship Recycling.

Green organisations are indeed lauding Maersk for being ahead of the rest of the industry.

“We applaud Maersk for showing leadership and taking a stance against the dangerous and polluting practice of breaking ships on tidal beaches,” says Ingvild Jenssen from the NGO Platform on Shipbreaking.

Source: Maersk Line. 5 July 2010