23 September 2011

Bangladesh Doesn't Want Asbestos Ship:

Chittagong, Bangladesh - Officials in Bangladesh’s Chittagong region, an area where hundreds of old ships are dismantled each year, have announced that they will refuse to accept a Korean ship that is said to contain large amounts of harmful asbestos and other hazardous materials.

According to a BBC News article written by Anbarasan Ethirajan, officials are taking a stand after receiving complaints about the ship from several environmental groups. The vessel, the MV Asia Union, was built in South Korea in 1982, a time when most countries had ceased the use of asbestos materials. However, because asbestos was not banned in South Korea until 2009, there is an assumption that it contains large amounts of the material.

“We haven't received any application for MV Asia Union,” said Department of Environment Director General Monowar Islam. “We have not provided any environmental clearance for this ship.”

However, a port official in Chittagong noted that they would be sending a team of inspectors out to the ship to determine exactly what remains on board. At that point, they will make a recommendation and a decision will be made as to whether or not to allow the ship into Bangladeshi waters.

Thousands of workers in Chittagong make their living in so-called shipbreaking yards, dismantling old vessels that come to Bangladesh from countries around the world. According to the BBC article, Bangladesh gets about 60 percent of its steel from these shipbreaking yards.

However, such a job can be extremely hazardous because, for decades, ships were fitted with all sorts of asbestos materials because of the mineral’s excellent heat-resistant qualities. Throughout the world, individuals who worked in shipyards or aboard ships that were built while asbestos use was widespread, including U.S. veterans, have been sickened with asbestos diseases such as malignant mesothelioma.

Source: Mesothelioma.com. 23 September 2011

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