31 May 2011

World No Tobacco Day - May 31, 2011

Theme: The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death; this year approximately 5 million persons worldwide will die from tobacco-related heart attacks, strokes, cancers, and other diseases. That does not include the more than 600,000 people – more than a quarter of them children – who will die from exposure to second-hand smoke. Having killed 100 million people during the 20th century, tobacco use could kill 1 billion during the 21st century (1). Sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO), World No Tobacco Day is observed every year on May 31.

Key facts of tobacco smoking:

  • Tobacco kills up to half of its users.
  • The tobacco epidemic kills nearly 6 million people per year
  • Without urgent action, the death toll could rise to more than eight million by 2030.
  • More than 80% of the world's one billion smokers live in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Total consumption of tobacco products is increasing globally, though it is decreasing in some high-income and upper middle-income countries.
This year, World No Tobacco Day highlights the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) (1). Adopted as a resolution at WHO's 1996 World Health Assembly, WHO FCTC took effect in 2005 and is maintained by the United Nations. A total of 173 countries have adopted the treaty (2), making WHO FCTC one of the most widely embraced evidence-based treaties in United Nations history.

WHO FCTC urges all countries to ratify the treaty, fully implement its provisions, and adopt its guidelines (1), and WHO provides country-level assistance for implementing effective tobacco control measures (3).


1) World Health Organization. WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2011.
Available at -
Accessed May 19, 2011.

2) World Health Organization. Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2011. Available at -
Accessed May 19, 2011.

3) World Health Organization. WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic, 2008: the MPOWER package. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2011. Available at -
Accessed May 19, 2011.

Additional information is available at -

Pakistan shipbreaking industry sinking while Bangladesh’s emerging:

Till 1985 Taiwan, Korea were leading countries in ship breaking industry while many other nations were actively involved in this business Later, the industry had undergone considerable consolidation as rising labour costs and environmental regulations forced the closure of most shipbreaking yards in developed countries. Resultantly, the industry shifted towards Asia on the back of environmental issues that gave a chance to Pakistan, India and China to emerge as leading shipbreaking countries. However, Bangladesh also set up this maritime recycling industry at its Chittagong yard.

Recently Bangladesh Supreme Court issued a verdict that lifted ban on the industry spurring its shipbreaking sector to progress leaps and bounds. It is stated that maritime firms of Bangladesh are expecting to scrap more than 30 million deadweight tonnes this year, surpassing last year’s 26.6 million and the figure of 28.3 million in 2009. The experts are of the view that if Bangladesh quickly ramps up its capacity, ship owners could scrap near the world’s capacity of 38 million deadweight tonnes, a level not seen for decades before. It is to be noted that before the ban, Bangladesh’s shipbreaking industry was worth $1.5 billion and considered to be a key contributor to the overall economy, providing steel mills with half of their supplies and employing as many as 150,000 workers.

With the boom in industry in Bangldesh, the average salary for a 12-hour day of labour intensive work has risen up to around $5.50, a decent wage compared to the nearly 40 percent of Bangladeshis that live on less than $1.25 a day. Conversely, rights activists in Bangladesh claimed that the cost of health of employees has been too high because of environment issues while more than 1,000 workers killed on the job since 1996. A 2003 government study found nearly 90 percent of workers suffered some form of accidental injury — from foot injuries to serious accidents — while working in Chittagong yards. The World Bank in December reported widespread contamination of lead, mercury and oil in the soil and water of Chittagong’s beaches.

It is not out of place to mention here that currently four nations including Pakistan, India, China and Bangladesh, with an abundance of cheap labour, control more than 90 percent of the shipbreaking market. However, after the lifting of ban on shipbreaking industry, Bangladesh’s investors have already purchased over 110 ships while dozens of vessels are in pipeline whereas at least 35 waiting for environmental clearance to come on shore for making them break into pieces. Bangladesh is becoming top ship recycling nation, hopes to bring in around 300 ships by the end of next year, up from 220 in 2009 before the ban.

On the other hand, after a long gap of over one decade, Pakistan’s shipbreaking industry at Gadani revived and as many as 30 ships, including oil tankers, are lined up at Gadani shipbreaking yard where they would be dismantled bolt by bolt, nail by nail and every cog of machinery would be utilised either in furnaces or as for old spare part.

Gadani shipbreaking yard
Gadani, situated about 50 km northwest of Karachi, has been known for its shipbreaking yards since late 1970s. In the 1980s, Gadani was described as one of the largest shipbreaking yards in the world, with more than 30,000 direct employees. However, in later years, on account of wrong policies of government, competition from India and Bangladesh lessened its output and its scrap production contracted to less than one-fifth. Again activities at shipbreaking industry are heading towards lacklustre point and only medium size ships including cargo and oil ships are anchored at Gadani shipyard.

In 2010 the industry produced 462,900 tonnes of scrap during the period. The prices of old vessel have gone up to $460-470 per tonne as compared to $350-370 in 2009.

It may be recalled that before 1970, Europe was the hub of shipbreaking industry across the world. The sector was based on highly mechanised industrial operation.

But as Europeans were more conscious of environmental standards as well as health and safety measures, costs of dismantling began to escalate. So European traders lose their interest in this industry and resultantly traders of Asian countries including Pakistan, India and China started to build up this industry in their respective countries.

It would not be out of place to mention here that every year around 600-700 sea vessels are dragged to beaches of Asia for scrapping. In India most of ships are scrapped at Alang, Gujarat. After the breaking of Tenjong vessel in 1983, Alang beach ranked world’s leading shipbreaking yard. But now Chittagong is emerging as another big Asian shipbreaking yards where workers could be seen working without much safety measures. While the workers of Gadani, though not insured, are getting fair wages but facing same environmental issues like Bangladeshis workers. However, traders claimed that in case of an accident, they used to give these labourers an acceptable compensation adding that in case of death, family of a worker is paid Rs 0.3 million by the owner and another Rs 0.3 million is also compensated by government. He said that in case of an injury, all the treatment charges are covered. The surprising fact is that a victim could draw his wages continuously unless he remained under treatment.

Shipbreaking industry mainly produced ship plates that are used in re-rolling mills who in turn produced iron bars, necessary for the construction of buildings. Countless small steel re-rolling and re-melting mills in Pakistan used these ship plates as they are cheaper comparatively than Pakistan Steel Mill’s iron billets. The non-availability of raw material (ship plates) to re-rolling mills could force them to switch off their running wheels as PSM products price remained high and always fluctuate from time to time.

It may be interesting to note that more than 95pc of the scrap of vessels dragged towards Gadani is recycled and reused. Traders not only get ship plates from these ships but also get washbasins, furniture and other fixtures from these vessels. Some time, owners also get some antiques that they sold them in open market on exorbitant prices.

In a bid to give boost to maritime recycling industry, the Bangladesh apex court lifted the ban this year on the condition that industry would adopt strict rules to protect workers including age limit of at least 18, training and proper safety gear and cleansing of toxic material from ships prior to arrival. The federal court has given the industry just few months to prove itself as workers-friendly or face reimposition of the ban.

It is suggested that by following the footsteps of Bangladesh, federal and Sindh governments should take measures to ensure healthy business environment by giving incentives to traders including soft loans and subsidies in addition to resolve the health-related problems of workers, so that more and more vessels could be purchased and dragged to Gadani yard in a bid to provide maximum job opportunities to local labours and utmost revenue generation for the government.

Source: By: Syed Mohammad Tahir | Published: May 30, 2011

30 May 2011

Where do ships go to die?

KARACHI - For those who wonder what happens to ships when they’re decommissioned, the answer was presented on Friday through ‘The Last Rites’, a 17-minute documentary screened at t2f as part of Travelling Film South Asia (TFSA). Produced, directed, shot and edited by filmmaker Yasmine Kabir, the documentary relies solely on visuals and sound (by Polo Dominguez) to relay the tale the shipbreaking process in Chittagong, Bangladesh, the plight of the workers and the impact of the industry on the environment.

Gadani (West of Karachi) - ships demolition yard. Workers are pulling heavy cables which will be used to winch up cut metal structures from the ships. A similar picture like Bangladesh shipbreaking yards exists in Gadani.
Not a single word is uttered throughout the film, and yet, the story is told in a manner that misses nothing out, as the emaciated workers pull at ropes to get a ship closer to shore, and then begin to take it apart. The effect on the process on the environment of the area is shown in its horrifying totally – from the floating debris, to workers trying to look for food by separated fish and crabs from the garbage that is hauled up in their nets, the grey waters of the Bay of Bengal, and the smog that hovers over the area.

As such, slow as a ship’s death is, the death of living beings associated with the industry and the area is as even slower, and just as sure. Every year, hundreds of ships are taken apart in the shipbreaking yards of Chittagong, where thousands flock to the shores looking for jobs. In the process of trying to save themselves from hunger, desperate workers push themselves towards a death hastened by overwork, asbestos and toxic waste.

As such, ‘The Last Rites’ tells, in just 17 short minutes, Kabir’s version of the story of man (and they’re all men), ships, and the sea and everything in it. Meanwhile, if one goes by ‘Afghan Girls Can Kick’, a 50-minute documentary about the Afghan national women’s football team, countries or groups aiming to rule over Afghanistan undemocratically need to watch out: Afghan girls can most definitely kick, literally and figuratively. Produced, scripted, directed, and shot by Britain-based Iranian filmmaker Bahareh Hosseini, and edited by Marta Velasquez, the film, shot originally in Dari, but presented with English subtitles, had the audience laughing with the protagonists and collectively gasping in horror at scenes of Taliban brutality in Kabul.

Through members of the Afghan national women’s football team, ‘Afghan Girls Can Kick’ related the tale of the resilient women of Kabul during the Taliban reign and the transition to Karzai’s democracy. The team captain speaks about her experiences during the last days of the Taliban. She talks about how, when she went out shopping with her mother without a Burqa, she was tapped on the shoulder by a Talib and ordered to cover herself up.

The next day, she went out in a Burqa, but the garment made it so difficult for her to even walk, that she had to ‘hold on to [her] mother’s hand like a child’. While she was out, the call for prayers sounded. Seeing her on the street, a Talib approached her, ordered her to pray and then chased after her as she tried to escape. While this wasn’t her first time running from a Talib on the street, this was the first time she was doing so in a Burqa.

She got tangled up in the garment and fell; and while she was down, the man who had been chasing her decided to teach her a lesson by beating her up. The girl went home in tears, vowing never to wear a Burqa and never to step out of her house. ‘There’s no point,’ she exclaimed. ‘They’d beat me up if I didn’t wear a Burqa, and they’d beat me up if I wore one. I decided to not wear it.’ So traumatic was the experience, that almost six years after the incident, her indignation and anger were palpable when she related the tale to interviewers.

For three days, she stayed locked up inside her house, and on the fourth day, Kabul heard the news of the fall of the Taliban. ‘My mother told me that my prayers had been answered,’ she said. Cultural body-politic, meanwhile, creates many problems for the team. They are ordered to wear headscarves during televised matches, even when they don’t want to do so. ‘What pests they are,’ the girls exclaim when right before the start of one match, they are told to run back to the locker room and ‘cover their heads’.

Despite adversity and opposition, the girls’ display immense talent – their coach has obviously worked hard to get them where they are. Their first match abroad was in 2007 in Pakistan – around the time some Koreans were kidnapped by the Taliban. The federation only had funds to send the team to Islamabad by road, and most of the players’ parents refused – they would only let them go by air, which, they said, was safer.

‘We might have to pass through Taliban areas,’ the coach said. ‘Even if they’re not Taliban areas, there is very little acceptance and a lot of opposition to women’s sports in Afghanistan. There might be danger.’ Eventually, much to the relief of the harried coach and players worried about missing their first match abroad, the team managed to obtain corporate sponsorship and money for airplane tickets. They landed in Islamabad, played against the best teams of Pakistan, and won second place in the tournament.

According to ‘number 9’, they deserved to win, because during the final match, which they lost 1-0, ‘the referee gave the other team a point for handball.’ Aided by footage from during the Taliban regime obtained through the Revolutionary Afghan Women’s Association (RAWA) and the resilience and humour of the protagonists, the film showed that Afghan girls can indeed kick – and how!

The first screening of the day, meanwhile, was Maheen Zia and Tehmina Ahmed’s ‘The Battle for Pakistan’. While dated (it was made four years ago), the 40-minute documentary explores the connection between extremism and madressahs in Pakistan. As Ahmed said in the post-screening question-and-answer session, some things have changed during the four years since the film was shot, ‘but sadly, many things have remained the same’.

They explore madressah culture and curriculum, the mindsets of those that run and fund these institutions, and the superficial nature of the reforms enacted in 2002 under General Pervez Musharraf. ‘The curriculum is uniform, and doesn’t promote hatred or extremism, per se,’ Zia said. ‘It is how it is taught in some places that is problematic’.

While at first glance, the documentary might seem to promote stereotypical narratives woven around poverty, madressahs and terrorism, a deeper reading shows that it throws up some extremely important questions about where the problem lies and how it needs to be addressed.

Source: Pakistan Today. By Urooj Zia. 30 May 2011

Pakistan Steel Industry for Checking up Check Posts:

Islamabad — The Steel Industry has requested the government to establish Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) check posts at Attock bridge or motorway entrance to charge Rs 4,500 sale tax per ton of steel consignment, arriving Punjab from Fata, it was learnt. Sources said that a Committee was constituted by the Engineering Development Board (EDB) on Steel Sector to solicit proposals for budget 2011-12.

To finalise the recommendations for the next budget which have now been formally submitted to the government, the committee held a number of meetings with all the stakeholders –
  • Pakistan Steel Melters Association (PSMA),
  • Pakistan Shipbreaking Industry (PSBA) and
  • Pakistan Steel Re-Rolling Mills Association (PSRMA)

One of the major recommendations of steel sector was to take necessary measure to ensure that all the goods produced by steel units in Fata are subject to tax upon reaching the local market. The reason behind the proposal given by the Steel Sector was that the furnaces established in Federal Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) were not paying Rs 6 sales tax on consumption of per unit electricity which makes them more competitive than tax paying units.

The PSMA claim was that such (Fata) units are selling their billets in Islamabad and Lahore markets and are hurting their market and convinced the committee on proposal that steel furnaces established in Fata should be subject to sale tax on selling their products in Punjab. The committee proposed that Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) should set up a check post at Attock Bridge/Motorway entrance to ensure that consignments from steel plants in Fata arriving Punjab and Islamabad are charged sales tax @ Rs 4, 500/per ton.

The Committee also requested that the special procedure of sales tax should continue on the same principles as are currently in practice. However, the enforcement of SRO 678 needs to be monitored more effectively to ensure that it is followed in true letter and spirit. It was proposed that a monitoring committee as proposed in the SRO 678 to be constituted and no sales tax return be admissible until or unless authenticated by the relevant association.

Any new melter or re-roller applying for registration of sales tax should be registered immediately and relevant information should be passed on to the concerned DISCO so that their sales tax liability be discharged properly through their electricity bills as per SRO 678.

Any stay order should not exceed a period of 6 months and should be resolved; failing which, it would be mandatory on a taxpayer to resolve the issue with ADRC within 3 months. The value of re-roll able import scrap may be fixed at 290 dollars per ton as all the value of other raw material is fixed.

Source: Pakistan Observer.

29 May 2011


Project Summary:

The diminishing Fishing Industry in the UK has resulted in ships being berthed on docks with costs building. Eventually, the amount owed cannot be settled and the boat is towed to a facility licenced to scrap these vessels.

Action taken:

  • Internal survey undertaken to ascertain the contents of the ship (credits and debits), which ranged from asbestos insulation, to a good engine and gearbox. Thus, the scrapping of the boats balanced out the credits with the debits.
  • Removal of all potential Health and Environmental risks to licenced off site facilities.
  • Hot cutting of the vessel to a size suitable for lifting to dry land for further processing, using all relevant Health & Safety practices.
  • Shoreline and all other areas left free of any debris relating to this boat.

BDB Dismantlig Limited
Valley Road,
Station Road
Industrial Estate, Wombwell, Barnsley, S73 0BS
Phone: 01226 273860 Fax: 01226 754180
E-mail: marketing@bdbdismantling.co.uk

Source link:

Coast Guard video and photos depict progress on Davy Crockett deconstruction

PORTLAND, Ore. - The 433-foot flat deck barge Davy Crockett continues disassembly on the Columbia River, Wash., Ore., border on May 20, 2011. Metal is cut away from the floating stern section, transferred to a decontamination barge and then to a scrap barge to be hauled away. Meanwhile salvage divers prepare submerged areas for disassembly. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric J. Chandler.
Source: United States Coast Guard. May 24, 2011 http://www.d13publicaffairs.com/go/doc/21/1095467/

Boom Time for Ferrous Recyclers:

At a time when the supply of many materials and commodities is under duress, some 3 billion of the world's population are increasing their consumption. In such a situation, the recyclers "will be very rich" according to Jim Rogers the widely known financial commentator, investor and commodities visionary.

Jim Rogers: Recyclers will be very rich
"I am very optimistic about the price of raw materials. I think you'll be rich because you're in the right place at the right time," Rogers explained to delegates to the Bureau of International Recyclers (BIR) World Recycling Convention & Exhibition in Singapore, before predicting that the commodities bull run would encounter setbacks along the way but would nevertheless continue until 2018 or perhaps even 2020.

For example, China's apparent steel consumption could climb as high as 850 million tonnes per annum during the course of its latest Five-Year Plan. And with the country's domestic scrap availability is set to remain "very, very low", according to BIR Ferrous Division's President Christian Rubach.

Opportunities will open up for foreign suppliers as China looks to pursue a policy of more sustainable development.

In recent months, China has been joined by South Korea in "aggressively buying" raw materials on the international market, according to the Pacific Rim report delivered by Blake Kelley of Sims Metal Management in the USA.

The same speaker went on to note that, after four months of 2011, the world was on course to produce 111 million tonnes more raw steel this year, and 63 million tonnes more iron, apparently consuming an additional 48 million tonnes of purchased scrap in the process.

This positive sentiment was continued by Tom Bird of Van Dalen Recycling who noted in his EU market report: "Finished product demand remains healthy and we are expecting demand for scrap to remain strong for the immediate future."

However, India's imports of ferrous scrap can be expected to drop 15% - 25% in the current financial year from approximately 4.75 million tonnes in the year to end March 2010, according to Ikbal Nathani of the Nathani Group of Companies and the Metal Recycling Association of India.

He contended that his country's crude steel production will grow from around 67 million tonnes in 2010 to nearer 75 million tonnes in 2011, but that scrap imports will drop because of increased domestic sponge iron production and the larger volumes of scrap emanating from the country's shipbreaking industry.

In Japan, the domestic scrap market is predicted to remain weak during the summer months owing to a lack of demand both at home and abroad, before picking up in the second half of the fiscal year ending in March 2012, reported Hisatoshi Kojo of Metz Corporation.

For both Russia and the Ukraine, Andrey Moiseenko of Ukrmet Ltd noted an improvement in domestic scrap collection volumes last year. He also pointed out that one mill in the Ukraine broke new ground earlier this year by importing scrap "on a large scale" by rail.

The BIR Convention in Singapore also marked the official publication of the second edition of "World Statistics on Ferrous Scrap", compiled on behalf of the world body's Ferrous Division by Statistics Advisor Rolf Willeke. This contains information about scrap use in steel mills and, for the first time, in foundries.

Source: Waste Management World. 27 May 2011

Maryland Port Administration greening an old harbor dumping ground:

Agency restoring Baltimore's Masonville Cove as urban park, bird preserve

On Baltimore's industrial southern waterfront, there's a green oasis of sorts, squeezed between a sand-and-gravel plant and a busy shipping terminal. Deer, foxes and rabbits lurk in the scrubby woods along the shore, songbirds flit among the trees, and ducks and geese ply quiet water with a distant view of the downtown skyline.

Masonville Cove, long a dumping ground for building debris and scrapped ships, is being reclaimed and converted into an urban nature park and bird sanctuary. Already, hundreds of students from nearby schools are learning about wetlands and wildlife at a "green" environmental education center there. By year's end, visitors should be able to stroll down to the water and fish and kayak from a new wooden pier.

In what many see as a promising development for Baltimore's degraded harbor, the Maryland Port Administration is underwriting this $22 million makeover of one of its most contaminated spots. Part of the environmental restoration work in the cove is being done as legally required mitigation for the 130-acre impoundment created nearby to hold muck dredged from the harbor bottom. But the education center and much of the construction under way now are part of a deal the state struck with neighborhood leaders.

In return for the port's promise to clean up the cove and make it usable to the public again, leaders of the Brooklyn, Cherry Hill and Curtis Bay communities went along with something residents elsewhere have bitterly fought in the past — the disposal beside the cove of millions of tons of noxious smelling and sometimes contaminated mud dredged from the harbor bottom.

Rob Catlin, executive director of the Brooklyn and Curtis Bay Coalition, a nonprofit community development corporation, says it's a classic "win-win."

The port, one of the state's major economic engines, needs someplace to put the stuff dredged to keep the shipping channels open. Urban neighborhoods, meanwhile, get waterfront access that they haven't had in decades, plus a community center that Catlin hopes can anchor green education and job-training efforts.

And besides, he concludes, "Anytime any part of the harbor gets cleaned up, that's good for all of us."

Some see Masonville Cove's reclamation as a model for restoring Baltimore's degraded harbor, tackling both ongoing water pollution and the toxic legacy of past industrial activities buried in the soil and sediments.

"This is a first step in the direction of getting the harbor … fishable and swimmable," said Beth McGee, senior scientist with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. "It'd be great to see more of those types of projects."

Masonville was once a modest waterfront hamlet, hemmed in by the Middle Branch of the Patapsco and by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. Black-and-white photos from the 1930s or '40s show people on the shore in bathing suits. Around 1952, though, the railroad bought and demolished the homes there so it could expand its rail yard.

Even before that, records indicate, the waterfront had become a dumping ground for demolition rubble, dredge material and just plain trash. Neighborhood lore has it that some debris from the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904 wound up in Masonville. Burned timbers found among the debris appear to predate the fire, and a paving brick on display at the education center that was found amid the rubble evidently was produced years before the blaze.

More recently, Masonville had been the site of a shipyard and a shipbreaking and industrial demolition business. Oil and toxic chemicals were dumped into the water and sediments during the demolition of a Navy aircraft carrier and several other ships in the 1990s.

The port latched onto the old scrap yard in 2000 and cleaned it up to provide more parking for Mercedes and other imported vehicles arriving at the neighboring marine terminal. Meanwhile, officials proposed to put a half-million tons of harbor dredge material there when its longtime disposal site at Hart-Miller Island filled up. Recalling the state's 14-year legal battle with opponents of the Hart-Miller site, port agency officials opted to try for a more cooperative approach.

By meeting with civic leaders and pledging to restore the cove as a "community enhancement" project, the port agency was able to skip a contentious court fight and get the dredge disposal site ready in six years. The first shipment of sediment was placed there last fall, shortly after Hart-Miller Island closed.

"All that added up to a lot of time saved," said Frank L. Hamons, the port agency's deputy director for harbor development. "It enabled us to continue to maintain Baltimore harbor, which without Masonville we couldn't have done." Some of the dredged material to be put in the impoundment contains toxic metals and chemicals, he said, but the contaminants will be contained in the impoundment and capped by clean material.

"It was already a green area," Hamons said of the cove, "But it was a dump. It was loaded with trash. It was fenced off and neighbors didn't have access to it. They hadn't had access for 70 years."

Since work began in 2007, about 61,000 tons of trash and rubble have been hauled away. The hulks of 27 derelict vessels have been removed or cleaned up, along with hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil-tainted water and two tons of electrical equipment containing toxic chemicals.

But the cleanup was slowed because the soil contamination beneath the rubble was worse than expected, Hamons said. Sampling found poisonous metals such as arsenic, chromium and lead; pesticides; and polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. The area was also riddled with toxic hydrocarbons, frequent byproducts of burning coal and oil.

About half of the 52-acre site is being "capped" with a 2-foot layer of clean soil, with plans to replant trees where they had to be cut down for the cleanup. A layer of clean sand will be put down over portions of the cove to cover the mucky bottom, and artificial reefs will be added to enhance fishing. The port agency has contracted with the National Aquarium in Baltimore to restore tidal marsh and other wetlands around the shore.

It definitely took a lot of vision to see it as a desirable natural area," said David Nemerson, a conservation biologist with the aquarium who has worked with the port agency on the restoration project. "It'll obviously take a few years to settle in and green up," he said, "but I think it's going to be terrific."

Construction is expected to start soon on a pier and floating dock, with hiking paths leading to it and around the cove. One area is to be off-limits to people as a bird sanctuary.

Even before the cleanup, the cove was a favored haunt of anglers and birdwatchers. Bob Ringler, a retired chemist from Carroll County, said he's been visiting Masonville since the late 1970s.

"It was a really junky-looking place, broken glass everywhere," he recalled. But wildlife didn't seem to mind. In winter, especially, the sheltered waters of the cove drew ducks and geese by the hundreds.

"I've seen over 1,000 ducks in there at one time," Ringler said, including canvasbacks, lesser scaup and ruddy ducks. The pooled water on the old dredge dumping ground attracted sandpipers, plovers and other shorebirds.

"From a birdwatcher's point of view, this was like having a real gold mine," Ringler said. The cove sheltered birds rarely seen elsewhere around Baltimore because there were few other relatively green and uninhabited places along the water.

Kevin Graff, a 33-year-old volunteer with the Maryland Ornithological Society, said he spotted 52 species of birds, plus some butterflies, when he stopped by recently. Last week, he spied a pair of Mississippi kites, grey, long-winged hawks more commonly seen in the Southeast.

Graff, who regularly visits Masonville from his home in Harford County, said he's seen northern or Baltimore orioles around the cove, and bald eagles. He's putting together a list of the birds seen there so it can be used to educate visitors.

"People think there are no birds in the city," he said. "But there are so many here."

For now, the only publicly accessible part of the new park is the environmental education center opened two years ago. Built to showcase green construction, its features include a reflective roof, solar panels, rain barrels and no-flush urinals. In the past year, it's been a hub for nearly 1,400 elementary school students from 16 area schools, who have visited for lessons about water quality and environmental stewardship provided by the Living Classrooms Foundation, a Baltimore-based nonprofit.

The education center is "basically their only connection to the environment, and to the city beyond their schoolyard, for a lot of these students," said Lorraine Andrews Warnick, environmental programs director for Living Classrooms.

Caplan said he hopes the access to nature will open eyes and open economic doors as well for an area still mired in poverty. He sees the education center as a valuable adjunct to the community's new high school, Benjamin Franklin, which has adopted an environmental science focus.

"The whole idea is to get them to develop an interest in wanting to pursue environmental studies," he said, so more students will finish high school, go to college, and come back to Baltimore to work in an environmental capacity for the government, the port or a private firm.

If that ultimately comes from the restoration of Masonville cove, he said, "then I think we have really made a great move toward successfully improving the life and the work of the people of our community."

Source: The Baltimore Sun. By Timothy B. Wheeler (tim.wheeler@baltsun.com), 28 May 2011

Entry of toxic ship banned:

The government has directed all concerned to ban the toxic ship Probo Koala renamed Gulf Jash from entering Bangladeshi territorial waters, Department of Environment officials say.

Gulf Jash
The move came after The Daily Star on Friday published an exclusive report that the Probo Koala, infamous for 2006 health crisis in Abidjan, has been sold to an unspecified shipbreaker in Chittagong.

“We have directed the shipbreakers' association, the port authority and the Coast Guards not to allow the Gulf Jash into Bangladeshi territorial waters,” said DoE Director Zafar Alam in Chittagong.

Global Marketing System, the specialised broker of ships for demolition, sold the Gulf Jash to a Bangladeshi buyer for demolition at a Chittagong shipbreaking yard. The Gulf Jash, now off Vietnam, is believed to be carrying dangerous toxic chemicals or residues of toxic chemicals which the vessel had long been carrying on board.

In 2006, toxic wastes offloaded from the Probo Koala claimed 17 lives and caused severe health problems to more than a lakh people in Abidjan of Ivory Coast.

According to Jenssen Ingvild, the director of the Paris-based NGO Platform on Ship Breaking, a global coalition of human rights, environmental and labour rights groups, the Probo Koala is a global symbol of toxic trade.

Since March 2009, the government has been dilly-dallying to formulate rules for the ship breaking industry in Chittagong.

The High Court, having stopped all activities in the industry following a petition by an environmental group, conditionally allowed import of ships for demolition for the period between March 7 and May 7 this year, until the draft of the rules was finalised.

The court extended the time for another two months as the authorities concerned on May 3 this year sought more time to formulate the rules.

Since March 7, the day the High Court first allowed the conditional import, the ship breakers in Chittagong so far have imported 59 ocean going ships, which are now awaiting beaching and dismantling.

Officials here however did not disclose the name of the importer of Gulf Jash.

Source: The Daily Star. Sunday, May 29, 2011

Let shipbreaking industry survive protecting nature:

Industries Minister Dilip Barua said this week the government will formulate policy guidelines for an environment-friendly shipbreaking industry. Shipbreaking industry of the country is now under the grip of a severe crisis following High Court ban on its operation that led to closure of some re-rolling and steel mills. The fate of investment worth Tk 55 billion already been made by different banks in this industry is also becoming risky.

Business leaders claimed that due to High Court ban on import and dismantling of scrap vessels, about 300 re-rolling mills and 50 steel mills were closed down over the last several months. A good number of non-government organisations (NGOs) are propagating against dismantling of scrap vessels in Bangladesh citing the cause of environment pollution. Rod and steel traders bitterly criticised their role saying that such NGOs were conspiring to destroy the country's prospective shipbreaking industry by raising some 'irrelevant' environmental issues. They claimed that the businessmen involved in the sector were counting financial loss worth around Tk 320 million daily due to such anti-industry activities by these NGOs.

The shipbreakers of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan have floated a tri-nation forum to fight against negative propaganda and 'conspiracy' hatched against the shipbreaking and recycling sector in the region by vested quarters. The new forum titled Federation of Ship Recyclers' Association was announced at a joint press conference attended by shipbreakers from three countries at a city hotel recently.

In fact all these developments are not a good sign for the country at all. Industries, including construction, re-rolling and steel supplies are highly dependent on shipbreaking as a large number of rod comes from this industry. But the shipbreakers are failing to break imported ships due to legal complications following High Court directives. Shipbreaking is a labour intensive sector. That's why the government recognised it as an industry. The condition of shipbreaking yards in Chittagong was reportedly improving. The industrialists claimed that they had changed the situation in the yards by keeping environmental issues in their minds.

It is true that many people have been opposing operations of the shipbreaking industry, considering environmental issues. But the government, as the industries minister declared, will help build up environment-friendly, sector-specific industry by taking lessons from those countries that successfully established such industries. The entrepreneurs should invest more to protect environment and ensure safety to the people involved in the sector.

Operators in the industry claimed that they supply about 2.3 million tonnes of scrap iron, 0.35 million tonnes of furniture, emergency generators to different factories, and motors and spares parts to different users, and pay about Tk 7.0 billion revenue to the public exchequer a year.

Meantime, the environmentalists called upon the government to permit ship breakers to import waste-free ships and follow the example of Chinese ship yards for the shipbreaking industry. They also suggested the government to give permanent identity cards and training to labourers and declare separate wages for them. The government's decision to declare the shipbreaking as an industry is, no doubt, laudable. But the point here is that the authorities concerned need to be extremely cautious on the protection of nature and environment of the surrounding areas where the industry is located. All rules, regulations and conventions have to be properly maintained in conducting shipbreaking activities under the new industry. The shipbreaking yards need to be brought under a disciplined and well organised system.

It is expected that the decision of the government would open up new opportunity for a considerable number of people to get employment. Placing of shipbreaking industry under the Ministry of Industries will also ensure discipline in its all-out activities while the surrounding inhabitants, local environment and the workers and employees will be immensely benefited through it. The government expects that the decision would also reduce the market price of the essential materials of the construction sector like rod, iron and steel.

Indeed, the shipbreaking and recycling are expected to meet up internal needs of iron goods, help flourish ship building industry, boost employment generation, infrastructure development through booming of re-rolling mills, small, cottage and other allied industries. The shipbreaking industry took off in Bangladesh a few decades back and has emerged as the second largest employment generating sector next to the RMG only. But the stalemate was negatively affecting this booming sector pushing at risk some 500 re-rolling mills, 50 private sector owned steel mills and thousands of small scale backward linkage industries.

It is true that shipbreaking helps the country's economy, yet at the same time, needless and callous endangering of the labourers' lives and pollution of the environment cannot be allowed. The industries minister recently asked the shipbreakers to beach scrap ships after getting them fully free of gas and other hazards. He said shipbreaking is a thriving sector which can be termed a 'gold mine' and that nobody should undermine its potentials.

Sitakundu in Chittagong is now the world's largest shipbreaking destination as Bangladeshi importers have beaten their competitors in India and Pakistan to buy the highest number of scrap vessels sold in the international market. The country's shipbreakers offer at least 20-25 per cent more price than their competitors in India and Pakistan, making the Bangladesh the preferred choice for the 'burial ground' of a large and medium sized ships. The country cuts ships that generate 12,000-20,000 tonnes of scarps per vessel, Indians and Pakistanis only target the small vessels that can generate on 4000-5000 tonnes per vessel.

There is no denying that shipbreaking is a very profitable venture. The yard owners should, therefore, spend some additional money for workers safety, training and welfare under their own institutional care. And there is no need to scrap as much as one hundred poisonous ships per year. By an elimination process only the least hazardous ships should be allowed to enter the country. If such process is taken up, the number of workers will automatically come down. If yards are fewer the operation will go on through the year and regular workers will not face any temporary joblessness. Any way, a tough but an environment-friendly policy should be framed to give the shipbreaking industry a better look. The campaign to protect the environment and lives of workers is certainty commendable. But it will also be irrational to ignore the economic value of an industry, only on consideration of some factors that are beyond its control.

There are allegations that not only the local NGOs, but also some international firms were conspiring to harm the prospective shipbreaking industry of Bangladesh. As shipbreaking is becoming an emerging economically viable sector here, some European countries are out to destroy it. If the country prospers in shipbreaking, the Europeans will not be required to send scraps here any more.

The safety of the workers and pollution-free atmosphere are of utmost importance in the context of Bangladesh. Yet it is also important to keep the shipbreaking industry of Bangladesh alive. If such industry closes for any reason, it could cause the collapse of other industries that depend on it.

Source: By Shahiduzzaman Khan (szkhan@dhaka.net). Dhaka, Sunday 29 May 2011

Toxic ships for scrapping: The government cannot be too careful

It is just as well that the government has acted quickly on reports that a toxic ship sold as scrap and bought by an unknown person in Chittagong, by alerting all concerned to prevent its entry into our territory. We must also thank the international watchdog and BELA for raising the alarm.

The ship in question, associated with toxic waste scandal in 2006, which cost the lives of 17 people and affected the health of a large number in Abidjan, in all probability is destined for the scrapping yards in Chittagong under a newly assumed name. And this was one ship that has very dubious record of carrying out trade in toxic matters throughout the world. Even now, as per reports carried in this daily, although unverified as yet, another ship is in the Chittagong port without clearance of the US Maritime Administration.

The government cannot be too careful in this regard. Despite orders from the High Court, there have been attempts to circumvent the rules and bring in vessels that have become toxic, not only because of the materials that they are built with but also because of the fact that they have been utilised for carrying hazardous materials. This category of vessels is cheaper than others, and therefore in great demand of some unscrupulous businessmen associated with the shipbreaking industry in Bangladesh.

We wonder whether the ship in question has the mandatory detoxification and cleaning certificate. If that be not so, such ships have to be decommissioned, which means that it cannot run on its own power, and could not be in Vietnam as reported, on its own

For us this a sensitive issue. The shipbreaking industry provides the raw material for our local re-rolling mills apart from providing employment. The backward linkages are many, and disruption of any kind is likely to have an adverse effect. The other side of the issue is the hazard that the environment, and the workers that are employed in the industry, are subjected to.

While we would not like the industry to thrive, it cannot be at the expense of the people and the environment that help them to survive.

Source: The Daily Star. Sunday, May 29, 2011