04 July 2011

Shipbreaking at Alang–Sosiya (India): An ecological distribution conflict:


More than 80% of international trade in goods by volume is carried by sea. The shipping industry constitutes a key element in the infrastructure of the world's social metabolism. Ocean-going ships are owned and used for their trade by developed countries but are often demolished, together with their toxic materials, in developing countries. Shipbreaking is the process of dismantling an obsolete vessel's structure for scrapping or disposal. The Alang–Sosiya yard (India), one of the world largest shipbreaking yards, is studied here with particular attention to toxic waste management. Ship owners and ship breakers obtain large profits dumping the environmental costs on workers, local farmers and fishers.

This unequal distribution of benefits and burdens, due to an international and national uneven distribution of power, has led to an ecological distribution conflict. The controversy at the Indian Supreme Court in 2006 over the dismantling of the ocean liner ‘Blue Lady,’ shows how the different languages of valuation expressed by different social groups clashed and how a language that expresses sustainability as monetary benefit at the national scale, dominated. Shipbreaking in the developing world is not just an externality but a successful case of cost shifting, or else, profit accumulation by contamination.

Toxic waste management; Cost shifting; Material flows; Environmentalism of the poor; Environmental justice

ASSBY, Alang–Sosiya Ship Breaking Yard; DWT, Dead weight tonnage; GMB, Gujarat Maritime Board; GPCB, Gujarat Pollution Control Board; IMF, International Metalworkers' Federation; IMO, International Maritime Organization; LDT, Light Displacement Tons; OSHA, Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Article Outline:

1. Introduction
2. Methods and Study Region
3. The Shipbreaking Industry
3.1. The Shipping Industry2
3.2. History of an Industry
3.3. From the Ship Owner to the Ship Breaker Through Cash Buyers
3.4. ASSBY: Alang–Sosiya Shipbreaking Yard
3.5. Shipbreaking Process
4. Hazardous Waste and Socio-environmental Impacts
4.1. Hazardous Waste Generation and Management
4.2. Pollutants Discharged
4.3. Socio-environmental Impacts
4.3.1. Environmental Impacts
4.3.2. Impacts on Workers
4.3.3. Impacts on Fishing Communities
4.3.4. Impacts on Villagers
4.4. Emergence of a Conflict: From Material Origins to Cultural Discourses
5. Looking Closer at the Ecological Distribution Conflict: The ‘Blue Lady’ Case at the Supreme Court (2006–2007)
5.1. Three Spatial Scales for the Conflict: International, National and Local
5.2. History of the ‘Blue Lady’ Last Voyage
5.3. The Case in the Supreme Court: Arguments and Languages of Valuation
5.3.1. Environmentalists
5.3.2. Ship Breakers
5.3.3. Indian Authorities
5.3.4. Villagers
5.4. The Final Court Order on ‘Blue Lady’
6. Conclusion

Journal Title: Ecological Economics
Volume 70, Issue 2, 15 December 2010, Pages 250-260
Special Section: Ecological Distribution Conflicts

Received 8 May 2010; revised 3 September 2010; accepted 8 September 2010; available online 12 October 2010.

Author: Federico Demaria

Author Affiliations:
Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technology (ICTA), Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), Spain

Corresponding Author: Tel.: + 34 622 135 090.

Source: Science Direct.

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