25 October 2012

Box ship deliveries trigger demolition:

An estimated 1.7million TEU is scheduled to be delivered during 2013 making it the biggest year ever for containership deliveries, according to Braemar’s latest Quarterly Container Ship Fleet Statistics.

In terms of annual fleet growth Braemar Seascope estimates the cellular fleet will expand in the region of 9.5% in 2013. Previously, the biggest year for cellular deliveries was 2008, with approximately 1.5million TEU of new tonnage commissioned. Cellular deliveries in 2012 are estimated to total 1.3million TEU.

In the post-Panamax segment of 10,000 TEU or more, 2013 deliveries will total 48 ships with a combined teu capacity of 650,000 TEU. The container industry is becoming accustomed to accommodating large work horses of 10,000 TEU or more. In 2011-14, annual deliveries of ultra large container ships in excess of 10,000 TEU will average at approximately 50 units per year.

Jonathan Roach, Braemar Seascope’s container analyst says this has been actively countered with plenty of cellular demolition. He goes on to say that “during the first three quarters of 2012, containership demolition reached in excess of 220,000 TEU and we estimate by the end of the year the teu capacity scrapped will reach the 300,000 TEU level”, representing around 2% of the fleet as it stood at the beginning of the year.

Historically, the biggest year for cellular scrapping was 2009, with 370,000 TEUwas sent for recycling.

Source: Motorship. 23 October 2012

How This Texas Town Owns The U.S. Naval Ship-Recycling Industry:

Welcome to Brownsville, where a thriving shipbreaking business makes old steel new again.

On a recent Friday morning, workers in the Esco Marine shipbreaking yard in Brownsville, Texas, were dismantling a 1944 U.S. Navy repair ship. This was the latest arrival in a steady convoy of aging military vessels, Maritime Administration ships, and merchant boats that have docked here, as a final stop, for years. Here in Brownsville, off the southern tip of Texas near the Gulf of Mexico, these old vessels get a kind of “decent retirement,” in the words of Esco's CEO, Richard Jaross.

This means asbestos and other hazardous materials will be cleaned out. Some of the salvaged equipment will wind up on eBay. And then thousands of tons of steel will be stripped and recycled and sent to smelt shops and steel mills a few hours away by rail in Monterrey, Mexico. Much of it will eventually return to the U.S. as remnants of old war cruisers and merchant marine ships reborn as auto parts and appliances.

Brownsville’s role in this process--shipbreaking, not to be confused with ship-building--has given the border city of 200,000 with an Hispanic majority a unique economic niche. Esco is one of five large shipbreaking operations clustered at the end of Brownsville’s 17-mile shipping channel inland from the Gulf. And there are only eight companies certified to dismantle Navy ships in the country. This fall, the Navy is contracting three decommissioned Cold War-era super aircraft carriers--the Saratoga, the Forrestal, and the Constellation--and they will likely take their retirement here.

Those aircraft carriers everyone has been waiting for could each contain 60,000 tons of scrap metal (as well as the promise of hundreds more cutting and welding jobs). By law, none of those Navy ships can be sent for scrapping overseas, which is why this work continues in Brownsville when so much other recycling and salvaging has gone abroad (just look at what happens to your discarded computer and cell phone). The U.S. government, for obvious reasons, doesn’t want a Chinese company dismantling the Navy’s fleet. After all, the same is true of ships and circuit boards and game consoles: You can learn an awful lot about something by taking it apart.

Brownsville would represent a dramatically different destination from some of the Navy’s previous retirement plans to “recycle” ships by sinking them at sea, in the hopes of creating artificial reefs.

“Every warship I’ve taken apart has had a story to it,” Jaross says. “They all have meaning because the lives of many people were put into building that ship, maintaining it, and fighting at sea with it.” Esco Marine has recycled the U.S.S. Des Moines, a heavy cruiser built at the tail end of World War II, as well as a twin-hulled submarine rescue ship, combat support ships, and troop transport vessels.

Brownsville has become the country’s shipbreaking hub thanks to its port and the cheap land around it, its proximity to steel-processing plants further down the food chain, and its work force. Bay Bridge Texas, which relocated earlier this year to Brownsville from Chesapeake, Virginia, cited the local labor pool among the factors in its decision. “The rest of U.S. has a scarcity of welders,” says Gilberto Salinas, executive vice president of the Brownsville Economic Development Council. “For some reason, our welders don’t want to Jaross cites one other reason why Brownsville dismantles what others construct. “You have a community here that welcomes the business. A lot of places, if a scrap yard comes in, they don’t want that there,” he says. “No one wants it in their community. It’s like having a coal operation.”

Economic development campaigns are more often meant to bring in gleaming biotech campuses. Shipbreaking, however, has very little in common with the coal industry. “This is a business,” Jaross says, “where we’re recycling things and creating resources for the future.” In a sense, then, these are green jobs.

Salinas estimates that, in all, the steel industry tied to the port makes up as much as a quarter of the city’s economy. All of the steel coming to town in the form of hulking Navy vessels (as well as oil rigs and other ships) has made the port of Brownsville the third largest importer and exporter of steel in the country.

“San Francisco has Silicon Valley, New York has everything, Austin has their little niche,” Salinas says. “But here we are. Yeah, there’s Pittsburgh, but then there’s Brownsville, Texas, where we have been and continue to mold our lives based on steel."

Source: BY EMILY BADGER. 24 October 2012

24 October 2012

GMS weekly report on Pakistan shipbreaking industry for WEEK 42 of 2012:

As deliveries and beachings continued at pace in Pakistan, Gadani buyers saw the majority of the market sales concluded to Indian buyers.

Many of the deals may have a Pakistan option included but firmer prices in India coupled with a greater capacity (after sitting quietly on the sidelines during the currency crisis early in the year) means that most of the vessels concluded will most likely be heading to India.

Pakistan buyers are still competitive for the right units but an overall lack of their preferred tankers has seen them having to diversify in recent times and take their share of larger capesize and panamax high LDT bulkers.

Source: Steel Guru. 23 October 2012

GMS report on shipbreaking industry for WEEK 42 of 2012

With the strike over in Alang, the domination of the Indian market continued for the week with ALL of the market sales heading to Bhavnagar shores (with perhaps a Pakistan option on certain deals, should the market there prove to be competitive enough prior to delivery).

A number of as is Singapore deals have also been done, including another Frontline ex OBO, the FROXT DRIVER (23,500 LDT), but one would imagine that owing to the persistently poor performance of the Bangladesh market, these are all likely to be India candidates. India's improved standing came amidst some concerning slides for the rupee once again. Five days of consecutively poor showings saw the rupee hit a three week low at 54 to the dollar, before improving marginally to finish the week at 53.8.

The turbulent form that the rupee has displayed over the past year has seen ship recyclers losing about 10% of the value of their inventories over the corresponding period. Thus, whenever the currency suffers an alarming and consistent depreciation, memories are evoked of the crisis that began in the fourth quarter of 2011 that eventually saw the currency hit historical, all time lows.

However, Alang buyers have used this current spike to pick up several high priced deals and with little tight displayed from archrivals Bangladesh, most end buyers will see the chance to stock their yards with inventory before the year is out. Whether the market (or indeed the currency) holds is another question entirely. Surely if the supply continues at such a furious pace, it is only a matter of time before plain old demand and supply factors kick in and prices retreat once again.

China was the major market movers for the week securing a 9,000 LDT bulker at USD 455/LT LDT (an improvement of some USD 20 to USD 30/LT LDT from last week). This has finally given owners a choice to make for geographically positioned units something that can only be good for the industry going forward into the last quarter of the year.

For week 42 of 2012, GMS demo rankings for the week are as below:

Market Sentiment
USD 440/lt ldt
USD 405/lt ldt
USD 435/lt ldt
USD 390/lt ldt
USD 420/lt ldt
USD 340/lt ldt
USD 350/lt ldt

Source: Steel Guru. 23 October 2012

7 shipbreaking yard owners summoned by DOE in Bangladesh:

Seven shipbreaking yard owners in Chittagong have been asked to explain why their companies did not comply with conditions of environment clearance certificate.

The Department of Environment on Tuesday issued a notice asking the owners to appear before the director general at its Chittagong office on October 25.

The seven shipbreaking yards are Sayeed Steel, Shima Steel, Mamun Steel, Al Safa Re-rolling Steel Ltd, KSB Steel Mill, Mahin Enterprise and United Steel Recycling Ltd, reports our Chittagong correspondent.

They have been asked to appear before the director general from 10:00am to 2:00pm, said Golam Md Bhuiyan, an acting director of the DoE.

Source: the daily star. 23 October 2012


After escaping Germany, the NORTHERN VITALITY is now headed for Bulgaria   

Brussels, 23 October 2012 - In a letter sent last week to the Bulgarian Ministry of Environment and to the Bulgarian Executive Environment Agency, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, a global coalition of environmental, human rights and labour rights organisations, calls on Bulgaria to prevent the export to India of the toxic ship NORTHERN VITALITY, a 15-year-old containership that is likely to contain hazardous materials such as asbestos, refrigerants and mercury within its structure and electronic equipment; operational oily wastes such as sludge and oil residues; and stores including paint tins and heavy cleaning agents. Under European waste law it is illegal to export an end-of-life ship containing toxic materials to India.

“We expect Bulgaria to step up to the plate and do the right thing: refuse to be a toxic waste dumper and ban the export of the NORTHERN VITALITY to a developing country”, said Patrizia Heidegger, Executive Director of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform. “The ship should be sent to a facility in the EU or Turkey where she can be recycled in an environmentally sound and safe manner.”

The NORTHERN VITALITY left Germany on the 10 October after local authorities had held her for more than a month in the port of Wilhelmshaven, and is now about to enter the Mediterranean Sea. 

On 6 September, the Platform had alerted Germany and the European Commission that the ship’s departure from German waters had to be prevented and the EU Waste Shipment Regulation had to be enforced. 

The regulation prohibits the export of ships at end-of-life to developing countries, including India. Probably to evade public scrutiny, the then-owners of the NORTHERN VITALITY, the Norddeustche Vermögen Holding, sold her to another German company, Erste Roland Shipping, which stated that the ship would be repaired in Bulgaria. According to data acquired by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, the VITALITY should drop anchor in Varna around 4 November.

However, the Platform doubts that the repairs in Bulgaria will be little more than a halt for the ship on her way to the shipbreaking yards of South Asia. Two sister ships of the NORTHERN VITALITY, the NORTHERN DIGNITY and the NORTHERN FELICITY, which were reported as sold for breaking by the industry at the end of August, were both beached in Alang, where they now await their disastrous fate. Both ships’ names and flags changed during their last voyage.

Every year, about 1,000 ocean-going ships are broken to recycle steel and other items, but the majorities are simply left on the tidal beaches of Pakistan, Bangladesh and India where little or no consideration is given to proper management of the hazardous wastes they contain. Proper training and personal protection equipment is lacking. Accidents and lethal injuries remain common in the shipbreaking yards. Twelve workers died this year while working in the Alang yards. On 6 October, six workers were killed in a fire that broke onboard a beached ship, the Union Brave, a British-owned ship. For the first time, the Indian authorities arrested the shipbreaking yard owners.

In July, India’s Supreme Court held that all ships imported for breaking should be pre-cleaned of the hazardous wastes they contain.

“There is a need to end this transfer of toxic waste to India and other countries and it’s time that the countries responsible for creation of the waste take on the responsibility of cleaning and disposing off the same,” said Ritwick Dutta, a lawyer from New Delhi-based Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment and a member of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform. “It should be the shipowners, not the environment or the workers, who should pay for the management of end-of-life ships’ hazardous wastes.”

Last March, the European Commission presented a proposal for a regulation on ship recycling, deemed to bring an end to the export of European toxic ships to sub-standard facilities. The NGO Shipbreaking Platform is now working with the European Parliament and the European Council to strengthen the proposal.

Patrizia Heidegger
Executive Director
NGO Shipbreaking Platform
+32 2 6094 419

Source: Shipbreaking Platform. 23 October 2012

23 October 2012

EU ship recycling proposal dubbed ‘illegal’

Europe: In Europe, the recently-introduced Commission Proposal on ship recycling includes serious ‘loopholes and legal contradictions’, NGO Shipbreaking Platform Executive Director Patrizia Heidegger has warned EU member states in an open letter. Her main concern is that, once enforced, this would ‘unilaterally remove’ end-of-life ships from the EU’s implementation of the Basel Convention.

The Hong Kong Convention on ship recycling is slated to be discussed during the environment ministers’ upcoming meeting on October 25. Mrs Heidegger hopes that bringing the regulatory breach to light will prevent ‘the illegal exercise of removing ships from Basel application’, hailing the latter as a ‘rightfully ratified’ convention on hazardous waste shipments.

In the open letter, the NGO Executive Director states: ‘Ever since its adoption in 1989, the EU has been a champion of the Basel Convention. Since 1994, the EU has been a champion of the Basel ban on the export of hazardous waste to developing countries.’ Noting that it was the EU that had ‘pushed the decision’ asserting that a ship could be a ship and a waste at the same time, Mrs Heidegger adds: ‘This proposal is not legally possible. It does not yet appear that the Commission understands the gravity of this illegal act.’

According to the NGO, the Commission is ‘conveniently ignoring’ the massive and sufficient capacity for green recycling in Europe, Mexico, Turkey, Canada and the USA. ‘Secondly, both regimes can operate simultaneously and will have to do so in any event, due to the fact that Hong Kong does not, for example, cover government-owned ships,’ Mrs Heidegger writes.

The ‘known loopholes’ wherein ship-owners can circumvent Basel rules can be closed ‘with further effort’, says the NGO. Therefore, European Commission decision-makers are urged not to support the proposal in its present form, but rather to ‘ensure that it is amended to remain in conformity with the binding legal provisions’ of the Basel Convention.

To read the entire open letter, visit:  www.bit.ly/VJ6GC4

Source: recycling international. 22 October 2012

21 October 2012

Court grants conditional bail to shipbreakers in Alang fire case

The local court of Talaja town in Bhavnagar district granted conditional bails to ship-breakers who were booked for culpable homicide by local police.

Alang Police registered an FIR against three people-R K Jain, V K Jain (owners of Kiran Ship Breaking Company) and its manager Rajesh Jagud-under section 304, 285 and 114 of Indian Penal Code in connection with the fires which broke out at oil tanker at Alang Shipbreaking yard on 6 October in which six people died.

Hours after the Ship-breakers were arrested; they complained of chest pain and were rushed to hospital in Bhavnagar. Shipbreakers have been asked to submit their passport as well.

Following the arrest of the shipbreakers, Ship recycling Industries Association (India) had called for strike at Alang and its allied association.

Sources said this is for the first time that shipbreakers have been booked under section 304 of IPC, if convicted, can face minimum three year jail term and maximum life imprisonment. Ship-breakers are under treatment in Hospital in Bhavnagar.

All the victims in the fire belonged to Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh. The deceased were identified as Hiralal Chaudhary (28), Ajay Chaudhary (22), Ram Milan (35), Sanjay Yadav (25), Subhash Yadav (28) and Dharmendra Chaudhary.The injured person Ram Singh Sahai is in critical condition.

Source: Times of India. 20 October 2012

20 October 2012

Of Ships and Men:

“The supervisor beats us.”
“I have swallowed much fume. When you have gas inside your body you can’t eat.”
“I drink water, but it’s so polluted I feel that I drink metal. I have no choice.”
“When I’m lying on my bed the images of the dead come back.”

Emaciated men with torn clothing, dulled eyes and missing fingers carry cables caked with rust on bare shoulders made browner with dried blood. Scarred young boys in toxic slick mud up to their knees drag themselves barefoot into the oiled earth to find sharp scraps of iron. The June heat blazes and seems to thicken the polluted air and louden the blasting and pounding. Atop ships far larger than I ever imagined are men the size of fingernails. Security guards dressed in blue leaf camouflage and strapped with semi-automatic machine guns stand at the gates in front of weathered billboards that read: “No Child Labor. Safety First.”

Shipbreaking in Chittagong
Viscerally, it’s all too clear. Slavery exists here. As does exploitative child labor. And black ocean waters. And black plume skies brightened only with blowtorch flame. The industry seems to flaunt its illegalities like badges of honor. I’m not the first to paint the hell-on-earth picture of “the yards” and hopefully I’m not the last. But while pictures may be worth a thousand words they can’t share a full-bodied story the way Daniel Schorn of CBS did in 2009. His opening paragraph has become the mantra of those looking to reform the shipbreaking industry:

“We all know how ships are born, how majestic vessels are nudged into the ocean with a bottle of champagne. But few of us know how they die. And hundreds of ships meet their death every year. From five-star ocean liners, to grubby freighters, literally dumped with all their steel, their asbestos, their toxins on the beaches of some of the poorest countries in the world, countries like Bangladesh.”

Shipbreaking in Chittagong
I came to Chittagong to study Bangladesh’s efforts to combat malaria among the hill tract people for a book titled Malaria: Poems, but I quickly became enthralled with shipbreaking. I’d never heard of it or even thought about what happens to old ships until I began researching Chittagong, and even then I naively assumed that because the BBC and others had internationally lambasted it that, ya know, things had been fixed.

My first impression of the yards was one of fear. The ships are the size of buildings and tilted at all sorts of angles due to the wet sand. It seemed that they had to fall, that no matter how they fell they could crush people within miles on all sides. Once the fear receded disappointment rushed in. First it was an unfounded disappointment at the local community for sitting back and allowing this to continue. Second was disappointment in the international community for not stepping in with the mighty world-policing powers of which I’m rarely a fan. Third was disappointment at the craft to which I’ve given a considerable portion of my life. Terrific writers have covered this problem, I thought to myself as I gazed out into the madness, yet it is still here menacing in my face and ugly as hell. This last disappointment of course became a personal disappointment. What the hell am I doing with my life?

Shipbreaking in Chittagong
Muhammad Ali Shahin is the Program Manager for Advocacy at Young Power in Social Action (YPSA) in Chittagong. YPSA is by far the most diverse and effective NGO I’ve come across in all my travels. Through them I saw stroke patients they had rehabilitated cry with joy at each step because of their ability to walk again. I met tribes people in secluded mountains who no longer feared malaria because YPSA had provided them with nets and a clinic at the bottom of the hill. I met an entire community of blind people thrilled to have a purpose in life now that YPSA had trained them how to type and create audiobooks from textbooks – they were working to create audio lectures on family planning when I first met them. Though YPSA has programs in HIV/AIDS prevention, sustainable economic development, anti-malaria efforts and support for disabled peoples, among others, Muhammad specializes in the shipbreaking industry and it was clear within two minutes of meeting him why.

“I know you have questions but let me first give you these pictures,” he said as he handed me a stack of about twenty framed photographs. He sat down beside me, put a humongous fan on the chair in front of us and turned it on full blast. “You ready?” he asked, his voice undulating through the fan’s blades. I nodded yes and so it began.

Each picture contained stories within stories. On a black-and-white picture of a man in a hospital room: “I was there the day it happened. A ship part fell and nearly split his head in half. I saw bits of his brain. We rushed him to the hospital and told his family and they were all scared to death that they’d have to sell their land and cows and house for treatment that may not work. I went to the shipbreaking boss and totally lost it. ‘Your worker is dying from that damn yard and through no fault of his own. Get in here and cover these costs or else you will find yourself in every single newspaper in the world by tomorrow morning!’

And on he went. One incredible story after another. Muhammad was no reciting robot either, he told all of these as though for the first time and with most stories I saw tears filling his eyes. It made me wonder if the fan was to cool us off or to dry his tears. I admit using it for both.

“At 29 years-of-age most ships by law must be broken down and Chittagong is considered the #1 place in the world where this happens,” he said.

“Where do the workers come from?”

“They are migrant men and boys coming from some of the poorest regions in Bangladesh. They are considered machines; if one dies another will replace him. They live up to twenty in small huts often lacking sanitation. They are contract workers and are in no way given the opportunity to organize themselves; trade unions are not allowed. There is no complete recording of accidents or death at the shipbreaking yards; dead and non-identified workers still get thrown out to sea, leaving a widow and children with no news and no income.”

“I know Syeda Rizwana Hasan won the 2009 Goldman Prize which is basically the Nobel Prize for Environment. Because of this, aren’t there laws the shipbreaking owners have to abide by in terms of environmental impact?” I wondered.

“Oh yes. There are a bunch of laws that either aren’t maintained or are filled with loopholes. Some laws state that ships have to be pre-cleaned of any toxic substances before being sent here. Doesn’t happen. According to the Environment Conservation Act, an industry like shipbreaking is supposed to take certain environmental measures to break a ship, but they don’t. And because its standards are not maintained in the yards, provisions in the Labour Act have also been categorically violated.

It must further be understood that the shipbreaking industry, as many other areas of Bangladeshi reality, is corrupt. Mafia-like structures are controlling the yards and in collusion with some government officials they are earning enormous sums of money. As an informal sector shipbreaking avoids having to comply with existing labor legislation; as an informal sector shipbreakers also have to pay high taxes. It seems therefore that the yard owners pay for a blind governmental eye. The ship-owners are making huge profits as well by selling their ships to Bangladesh. These profits too are corrupt as many ship-owners hide behind post-box companies registered in countries that turn a blind eye to existing human rights and environmental legislation.”

“What are the actual environmental impacts? Have you had researchers come in?” I asked. “I saw what I saw and it was gross but it seems the guards with machine guns…” I trailed off.

“Everyone in the world relies on the ocean whether they realize it or not. Nowhere is this clearer than Chittagong. Most of the materials on ships such as asbestos, PCBs, lead, cadmium, organotins, arsenic, zinc and chromium, black oil and burned oil have been defined as hazardous waste under the Basel Convention. Many of our people survive solely on fish that now no longer exist because these ships are being cut up by hand and on open beaches and with no consideration given to safe and environmentally-friendly waste management practices. Something like this ensures that a developing country stays forever developing….”

“It seems that the developed countries, in one sense, are creating employment here in a way that provides a short-term paycheck yet long-term and irreversible consequences. What can be done of this?”

“The polluter pays principle must be enforced. It must be. Developed countries should take responsibility for pre-cleaning vessels as far as possible before exporting them to developing countries. Poor countries and their territories are not dustbins or a dumping place for the developed world. This only widens the gap between rich and poor. People who live in developing countries have the same right to a decent job and they too need to breathe fresh air. Believe me when I say that Bangladesh has enough problems to deal with. We are one of the countries suffering the most from climate change resulting from the developed world’s CO2 emissions, not our emissions. Waste emission from shipbreaking is not our waste.”

Chittagong Shipbreaking Yard

“What would you say to someone who says you simply want to end this industry completely?”

“NGOs and media have been campaigning for so many years on this shipbreaking issue and they’ve never urged an end to the industry. They simply urged for national and international labor and environmental laws to be respected and enforced. If somebody is saying that NGOs want to stop shipbreaking then we have to assume that the yard owners and international players of shipbreaking want to avoid the compliance issues by blaming NGOs.

The highest court of Bangladesh also gave orders in line with the Basel Convention but there have been little if any changes to the hazardous practices. Yes, this industry provides much of our resource needs. Yes, it employs a ton of our people. But all of this should not come with a stipulation that says our ocean will be destroyed and our men and boys will subject to hell-on-earth. Do I want the industry to end? Of course not. But if it won’t follow some very basic rules regarding human rights then it shouldn’t exist whatsoever. We are poor but first we are humans.”

What I saw remains burned in my brain even a full month later. When I see dilapidated houses I see ships. When I saw a rainbow last week I saw the rainbow swirls of oil on top of the ocean. Although I know that the ocean, decimated by this process, will spread these men’s struggle to everyone in the country, it is the children working on the yards that still rip at my emotions. Their faces. Their little scarred bodies. The billboards in English that stood on the legs of mockery, reading “No Child Labor”.

Shipbreaking in Chittagong
Ideally, all children would be at school. This goes for both developed and developing countries. But ideals alone cannot bend necessity, especially when necessity is wrapped in the soft blanket of cultural custom. Children here in Bangladesh often need to work to help their families or simply do so because that’s the way it’s always been. Perhaps then, at least for now, the battle lines should be redrawn as it relates to child labor here. If we erase but leave the crucial traces of “Eradicate all child labor” and replace it with “All child labor is not created equal” maybe we can take a lesson from the yards and chisel away at the beast piece by piece. After all, there is a difference between the child happily helping mom hand out biscuits in a poor tea village and the child standing in toxic waste while breaking asbestos with a bat.

How can those faraway help? Of course, spreading awareness helps even if it’s through a Facebook “Like” or a Twitter “Retweet,” but a more tangible approach is to support those on-the-ground warriors who live and breathe this battle’s intricacies. Here are a few:

Muhammad Ali Shahin, YPSA, Email: shahin41077 (at) gmail.com
- Unicef Bangladesh
- Shipbreaking Platform
- International Federation for Human Rights

Source:  19 July 2012. BY CAMERON CONAWAY

Inter-ministerial panel visits Alang:

The Inter-Ministerial Committee on ship-breaking (IMC) visited Alang-Sosiya Ship-Recycling Yard on Friday where the infamous oil-tanker-turned-bulk-carrier Exxon Valdez is currently beached for dismantling and the site of the tragedy where six workers died earlier this month. The panel was led by IMC chairman Bharat Bhushan.

Meanwhile, the three shipbreakers, arrested on charges of culpable homicide in this connection two weeks ago, have been released on bail by a local court. However, a senior police officer said the charges have not been watered down as demanded by the ship-breakers' association, who went on strike for five days demanding it.

Sources said Bhushan and the committee, during Friday's visit, gave the workers' training centre at the yard a miss and instead made unplanned visits to several plots and met several workers, asking them about their working conditions and their wages.

Besides the waste-disposal facilities nearby the yard, including the new Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facility (TSDF) for toxic wastes, the committee also visited the unused trust-run hospital at the yard and the worker's colonies there, both issues that have been high on the IMC's agenda because they have been slow to take off.

On Thursday, Bhushan was also invited to a meeting with Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Secretary A K Joti, who had this past August appealed to his counterpart in the Environment Ministry, when Alang found itself in the middle a Supreme Court petition, sources said.

Joti had asked that regulations governing Alang-Sosiya must be framed in such a way that business there, which supports large scale allied industries besides thousands of workers, be considered.

Source: Indian Express. 20 October 2012

Ship Demolitions Seen Above 1985 Record Amid Plunging Returns

Scrapping of merchant vessels from the global fleet in this year’s first nine months exceeded the annual record set in 1985 after returns plunged, according to Clarkson Plc, the world’s largest shipbroker.

A total of 960 vessels with capacity of 44.1 million deadweight tons were sold for demolition through September, the London-based company estimated in a monthly report published today. That will climb to 57 million tons by the end of the year, Clarkson said.

“Much of this increased activity has been due to the challenging earnings environment, which has been exacerbated by the continued issue of vessel oversupply,” the shipbroker said. “This has not only led many owners to consider scrapping more vessels, but also younger vessels.”

Scrapping came to 42.6 million tons for all of 1985, Clarkson said. A total of 1,955 new ships with capacity of 124.7 million tons left yards and entered service in this year’s first nine months, the report showed.

Daily average returns for Capesize vessels, the biggest iron-ore carriers, plunged 44 percent from the start of the year to $13,430, according to the Baltic Exchange in London. The largest oil tankers plying the benchmark Saudi Arabia-to-Japan route are losing $4,252 a day, its assessments show.

Source: By Michelle Wiese Bockmann. 18 October 2012

Gadani shipbreaking yard: Three labourers crushed, several hurt

Quetta—At least three labourers died and several others injured when heavy load fell over them while working in the Gadani shipbreaking yard on the Balochistan coast here Friday. According to details, labourers were busy in routine work at the shipbreaking yard, about 50 kilometres northwest of Karachi, when heavy iron material from a ship’s deck fell on them.

Three labourers were killed on the spot while several others sustained wounds. The injured labourers were rushed to Karachi hospital for treatment where according to hospital condition of some of them was serious. It should be mentioned that Gadani shipbreaking yard is one of the world’s largest ship breaking operations where ship breaking has been taking place since before Pakistan’s independence. Thousands of local labourers work in unsafe conditions, often for a pittance.

With annual capacity of breaking over a hundred ships of all sizes, the yard is located on a 10 km stretch of beach at Gadani, 50 kilometres from Karachi city. Thousands of Karachiites daily visit the Gadani beach for its majestic beauty. Fires and accidents are common in the shipbreaking yard where workers extract metals, steel pipes and valves, electricity cables, machinery and wood from derelict ships.

Source: Pak Observer. 20 October 2012

How we poison Bangladesh with toxic ship carcasses

Workers are dying in Bangladesh’s shipyards because the west's shipping industry - including UK companies - is not taking responsibility for the disposal of ageing vessels

They are known as ‘cutters’: men who enter the tanks of huge ships, armed with a blowtorch, sunglasses and a rag to cover their mouths. Their job is to cut slabs from ships’ hulls that are sent to steel mills for re-rolling. 

The 50 or so cutters working in Bangladesh’s shipbreaking industry who entered the 275 metre long Agate on a December morning last year had been told by their bosses that the ship was ‘clean’ - free from dangerous oil and gas residues. 

But when sparks from their cutting equipment hit the bottom of the tank, there was a massive explosion.

‘It was the main gas tank in the ship. Its size was huge. I was to cut one side of the tank. Other workers also started cutting the tank. After some time the tank exploded with a tremendous bang and the tank burst into flames. I was knocked out and don’t know what happened afterward,’ said Noor Alam (pictured), one of the injured workers.

A 'hell on earth'

The Agate burned for eight hours, killing eight and leaving 13 others with horrific injuries. But for the 30,000 or so workers who make their living dismantling ships on the...

To view the rest of this article - you must be a paying subscriber

Source: The Ecologist.  Andrew Hickman. 23 February 2010