24 February 2017

Grounding Narrowly Averted Off Norway:


On Wednesday morning, the 40,000 dwt barge carrier Eide Carrier (AIS reporting name Tide Carrier) came within 300 feet of going aground off Jæren, Norway.

Officials with the Joint Rescue Coordination Center – Southern Norway said that the vessel lost power at about 1045 hours Wednesday and deployed an anchor to hold herself steady. She regained power and weighed anchor, but lost power again and redeployed ground tackle to keep from drifting onto the beach.

As of Wednesday night, the Carrier was without propulsion but stable, with two anchors to hold her steady and two tugs made up and standing by. Three coast guard vessels were also stationed in the vicinity if needed. The JRCC intends to tow the Carrier away from shore after first light on Thursday.

One of the vessel's crewmembers was evacuated by helicopter at 1400 hours after he suffered a shoulder injury, and the JRCC initially reported that the master refused to evacuate the rest of the crew. Officials said in an update late Wednesday that SAR teams completed the helivac of four nonessential crewmembers. Two pilots and two tug company employees were brought on board to assist with the operation.

Until recently, the Carrier was flagged in Panama, and her Equasis record still reflects her previous registry. She is now flagged in Comoros, which NGO Shipbreaking Platform has identified as a popular flag state for end-of-life vessels on final voyages. ecords maintained by DNV GL show that the Carrier's classification was withdrawn last Tuesday. It is unclear whether she had obtained class certification from another society by the time she sailed.

Source: maritime executive. 22 February 2017

23 February 2017

'Ship recycling contributing greatly to economy'

'Ship recycling contributing greatly to economy'

Ship recycling is contributing significantly to the national economy as the sector is supplying raw material to the steel and re-rolling mills, says the industries minister.

 “As a labour intensive industry, ship recycling is contributing significantly to the national economy by creating jobs and increasing earnings,” Amir Hossain Amu said while speaking at the closing session of a workshop in Dhaka on Wednesday.

The industries ministry organised the workshop titles 'Safe and Environmentally Sound Ship Recycling/SENSREC' with additional secretary Begum Parag in the chair.

Joint secretary Begum Yasmin Sultana, Norwegian ambassador in Dhaka Sidsel Bleken and Dr Stefan Micallef of International Maritime Organisation also spoke on the occasion.

The industries minister said the government has already taken steps to ensure a safe working place for ship recycling industry, according to BSS.

Source: the financial express. 22 February 2017

22 February 2017

Demolition In 2016: No Break For The Shipbreakers!

Demolition activity remained particularly firm in 2016 amidst very challenging shipping markets, and reached historically high levels in some sectors. This could well be beneficial to the industry, with increased scrapping helping to ease the oversupply of ships in certain markets. This month Shipbuilding Focus takes a look at demolition activity by breaker country.

Successful Scrapping Season
2016 was the third highest year on record in terms of tonnage demolished, with a reported 933 ships of a combined 44.4m dwt scrapped. This was a year-on-year increase of 14% and equivalent to 2% of the start 2016 world fleet in dwt terms. Bulker and containership recycling activity was very strong in 2016 and accounted for 65% and 18% of total demolition respectively in dwt terms. The 0.7m TEU of boxships scrapped was 48% higher than the previous peak in 2013, while the 28.9m dwt of bulkers scrapped in 2016 was the second highest yearly total on record. Demolition activity reached firm levels despite continued downward pressure on steel prices from cheap Chinese steel exports. The Indian Sub-Continent (ISC) guideline scrap price for a Handysize bulker stood at $290/ldt at the end of 2016, 28% lower than the end of 2012, when total scrapping peaked.

All Eyes On The ISC
The proportion of tonnage sold for scrap to ISC breakers rose to 79% in 2016, the largest share in the past decade. ISC breaking yards recycled 656 vessels of a combined 40.0m dwt in 2016. Indian breakers experienced a resurgence after a comparatively slow 2015, with 340 ships of a combined 12.5m dwt recycled in 2016. This led their share of total demolition to rise from 20% in 2015 to 28% in 2016 in dwt terms. Bangladeshi breakers saw their share of world demolition decrease from 35% to 31% over the same period. However in dwt terms they still represented the largest share of demolition activity, scrapping 199 vessels of a combined 13.6m dwt in 2016. Recycling volumes at Pakistani breaking yards were steady year-on-year in 2016, with 117 vessels of a combined 8.9m dwt recycled. However, a number of fatal incidents at yards towards the end of the year caused temporary closures.

Sluggish Sino Scrapping
Chinese breakers recycled 111 ships of a combined 4.9m dwt in 2016, 11% of the world total and a year-on-year decrease of 25% in dwt terms. ‘Green’ recycling facilities in China have benefited from the domestic scrap subsidy introduced in 2013, with domestic owners accounting for 87% of tonnage recycled at Chinese yards. However, domestic scrapping fell 31% year-on-year in 2016 to 4.0m dwt. Turkey, another location for ‘green’ ship recycling, scrapped the most vessels of any other nation in 2016, 84 ships totalling 0.9m dwt (2% of global demolition).

Overall, 2016 was a busy year for breaking yards. Indian breakers regained market share and the Chinese lost share as domestic demand fell. Looking ahead, increased pressure to ensure safer and greener ship recycling may have a future impact on the breaker landscape. However, with around 40m dwt currently projected for demolition in 2017, global recycling is expected to remain at elevated levels.

Source: hellenic shipping news. 2o February 2017

Surging Steel Price Boosts Scrap Value of Redundant Containerships

A sharp increase in steel prices has prompted a new wave of vessel scrapping, bringing the supply-demand ratio in container shipping further into balance.

A Maersk Line containership seen alongside other ships a Hong Kong Convention-approved ship recycling facility in Alang, India. Photo credit: Maersk 

According to the latest report from London shipbroker Braemar ACM, containership scrapping this year has already reached 56, amounting to 185,500 teu. This compares with 16 ships (45,000 teu) in the same period of 2016.

Moreover, the delivery of newbuild tonnage has slowed considerably, with only 18 vessels, totalling 91,500 teu, having been delivered so far this year.

Over 2016, there were 189 demolitions (658,000 teu), according to Braemar – a new record for the container industry.

The latest driving force is twofold: plenty of surplus tonnage, particularly in a panamax sector the industry would do well be get rid of, and steel prices have firmed significantly since the low point of 2016.

By 6 February, the idle containership fleet had swelled to 342 ships (1.32m teu), according to Alphaliner data, with liner voyages blanked and ad-hoc demand disappearing during the Chinese new year holiday.

This included 47 classic panamax vessels seeking employment in a charter market where daily hire rates have collapsed to only $4,250-$5,000 – below operating cost.

Of these vessels, Alphaliner notes, 30 are currently hot or cold lay-up, mainly at anchorages in South-east Asia, and their owners may now opt to cash in on an increased demand for steel scrap.

Braemar reports that the demolition market “remains firm” and had heard of one panamax vessel being negotiated at “excess $330/LDT basis as is Singapore”.

Steel commodity prices fell to an all-time low of $90 per tonne in March last year, before bouncing back in June to around $300 per tonne and remaining at that level for the rest of 2016.

Analysts are forecasting that steel prices could rise above $400 per tonne this year, and even higher in 2018, as demand begins to exceed supply.

This is a direct consequence of the world’s leading steel producer, China, reducing its production by around 20% by 2020, due to a depression in its construction activity linked to the nation’s economic slowdown.

Against this backdrop, the World Steel Association has predicted that demand globally will increase by 0.4% this year, including 5.9% growth in the US, thus resetting the supply-demand balance and pushing prices up.

Indeed, the increased price of steel has already had an impact on the container manufacturing industry, with market-leading lessor Textainer reporting last week that a steel price hike of some 80% in the past year was supporting new dry container prices of “above $2,000”.

The surge in steel prices is likely to also put an end to cheap ships if, and when, any new orders are negotiated, but the more immediate relevance is that with the scrapping option becoming more attractive to owners, the chronic over-tonnage that has blighted the charter market in the past few years could be over rather sooner than anticipated.

Source: g captain. 21 February 2017

Container shipping faces critical moment after years of losses:

Sector shows signs of revival after deals and new sector alliances shake up market

At first glance, it is not obvious watching the cargo moving on and off the Leverkusen Express at the Port of Southampton that the container shipping industry has been contending with the biggest financial crunch in its 60-year history.

Cranes lift boxes over the towering sides of the 367m long vessel, just as they did before a glut of ships and a slowdown in global trade sent freight rates tumbling.

But on a closer look, there are signs of financial stress on the Southampton quayside. The decks of containers on the Leverkusen Express, operated by Hapag-Lloyd, are notable for being speckled with the colours of at least five other shipping companies, highlighting intense efforts to ensure that the vessel is filled to capacity. In the past, ship operators used to only put their own containers on their vessels, plus maybe those of one or two partners.

Operators have of late engaged in increased co-operation to fill their ships because that is the only way they will make money out of the giant vessels.

Much of the container shipping industry has been running up losses for years, but there are good reasons — including this enhanced collaboration between companies — to think that the sector has reached a critical moment in its battle to secure a course to sustainable profits.

A recent wave of deals is reducing the number of lines, while South Korea’s Hanjin Shipping last year became the first big container ship operator to enter bankruptcy since 1986.

Some executives think that the shake-up, which involves almost all the top 15 lines in mergers and new industry alliances, has stopped the decline in freight rates. According to Drewry Shipping Consultants, average revenue per 40-foot container recovered to a profitable $1,645 in December, from a lossmaking low of $1,113 in April.

Yet other sector observers believe that the industry’s longstanding issue of excessive numbers of container ships chasing inadequate volumes of cargo will reassert itself.

The current changes, they say, also pose risks. In the worst-case scenario, manufacturers that put their goods on container ships could find billions of dollars worth of their products stuck at sea on a bankrupt operator’s vessels, as happened following Hanjin’s collapse.

Rolf Habben Jansen, chief executive of Germany’s Hapag-Lloyd, highlights high levels of ship scrapping last year as a reason to be optimistic. Maersk Line, which last week reported a net loss of $367m for 2016, also expects a strong recovery and predicts that it will record a profit of about $600m for 2017.

“I expect that the industry will be far better off in financial terms within the next 12 to 24 months,” says Mr Habben Jansen.

But Lars Jensen, chief executive of Sea Intelligence Consulting, points to a continuing imbalance between demand to move cargo and the supply of ships.

Shipyards are due this year to deliver large numbers of huge vessels, which could put fresh downward pressure on freight rates, and Mr Jensen says: “We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that the global supply-demand balance is basically where it was 12 months ago, when the market collapsed. Despite the record levels of [vessel] scrapping, that hasn’t improved.”

The key question is whether a restructured container ship industry — as the new mergers and alliances take effect — can exercise discipline on freight rates and restraint on vessel orders.

The deals are vital to fill new vessels capable of carrying as many as 20,000 20-foot containers. In the biggest of the current transactions, Hapag-Lloyd is acquiring the container shipping operations of UASC, while Maersk Line is buying Hamburg Süd.

Three of the four alliances that have dominated the industry will also disappear on March 31.

They will be replaced the next day by two new groupings — The Alliance of five container ship operators led by Hapag-Lloyd, and the Ocean Alliance of four companies spearheaded by France’s CMA CGM. The 2M alliance of Maersk Line and Mediterranean Shipping Company may also change if Korea’s Hyundai succeeds in its attempt to join.

A senior executive at one shipping line expresses confidence that the overhaul of the market should help to prevent excess capacity and problems on freight rates. Lines will have to seek approval from other members of their alliances before buying new vessels, which should put a brake on orders.

“From that point of view, it’s contributing to some form of stability,” says the executive. It is also positive, she adds, that consolidation and Hanjin’s bankruptcy have removed from the market some struggling lines that were “pricing quite aggressively” with their freight rates.

Mr Habben Jansen agrees that the market is functioning more rationally. “We already see the first improvements,” he says.

Yet Simon Heaney, analyst at Drewry, is cautious. He highlights how a new Korean shipping company called SM Line has taken over some of Hanjin’s vessels and might drive down freight rates on trans-Pacific routes.

“When you’re an underdog, you have to buy your way into a market,” Mr Heaney says.

Ron Widdows, a consultant and former chief executive of Neptune Orient Lines, which was bought last year by CMA CGM, has deeper concerns.

He says that shipping lines might cut freight rates to pursue market share for their new alliances, or order ships to beef up services. The record numbers of ships currently lying idle could be put back into operation, driving rates down again, he adds.

Mr Widdows also fears that the market overhaul will lead to instability. He points out that in 2005 a single deal — Maersk’s €2.3bn takeover of P&O Nedlloyd — caused considerable disruption.

This time around, as a battered industry prepares for multiple transactions simultaneously, the potential for disorder could be far greater.

“Imagine what that does in terms of the instability and continuing volatility of the environment,” Mr Widdows says.

Source: financial times.

16 February 2017

The decision to scrap El Faro's sister ship:

El Faro’s sister ship was scrapped for “commercial reasons”, according to the company over the vessel.

Through this latest hearing session of the Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation working the El Faro sinking, consistent questions have arisen regarding some of the potential issues on board El Yunque, specifically in connection to her vent trunks. This session was also the first that investigators publicly confirmed El Yunque was being scrapped instead of heading to the Alaskan trade, but until Monday’s testimony, it wasn’t clear what went in to that decision.

TOTE attorneys questioning TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico Director of Operations Lee Peterson, who was the TOTE Services Director of Safety and Marine Operations at the time of the sinking, asked him to point blank speak to whether the Coast Guard had ordered the ship be scrapped because of safety concerns.

“The decision on scrapping the El Yunque- I was not involved in that decision, but my understanding is that it was a commercial decision and it was based on the conversions that were ongoing with the Orca class ships,” Peterson says.

El Faro and El Yunque were set to be converted for the Alaskan trade in order to temporarily take the place of two Orca-class ships on that route, which were thought to need engine replacements, according to Peterson. He says the new engines were to meet new emissions standards, and would take the ships out of service, at a foreign shipyard, for an extended period of time.

The engine manufacturer later determined the engines could be converted, instead of replaced.

“The current conversion, a lot of it can be done underway on the vessels. And for the required shipyard periods, they’re a short enough duration where we don’t require a replacement ship to fill in for them,” Peterson says.

As a result, he says they no longer needed El Yunque to spell the Alaska ships. His attorney asked whether he was aware of conversations of other commercial factors that also went in to the decision to scrap, but Peterson says he was not.

The MBI wanted to be explicitly clear, though.

“Is it your testimony that the El Yunque was not scrapped at least in part due to safety concerns that would have to be corrected and the substantial amount of work to be done,” asked MBI Chair Captain Jason Neubauer.

Peterson initially responded “correct”, before consulting with his attorney and stating that he wasn’t aware of any safety considerations in the decision. TOTE Services Attorney Luke Reid soon added a caveat, though.

“He gave you what his understanding was with respect to the reason, and it involved Orcas and thinks like that in his testimony. Sitting down with Mr. Peterson, we realized that that was not a correct statement. So his understanding was not correct, I just wanted to make sure that’s corrected for the record,” Reid says.

The clear line was blurred further, when some on the MBI introduced glimpses of conversations or correspondences they appeared to question could be involved in the decision. Board Member Keith Fawcett asked Peterson if he was aware of discussions in September 2015 related to delaying the Orca conversions because of a “cascading series of events”, which included problems with the Isla Bella. The Isla Bella is one of the ships that was going to replace El Faro and El Yunque, who were then going to spell the Alaskan ships. Neubauer further asked whether Peterson was aware of a meeting between senior TOTE executives and the US Coast Guard headquarters to discuss the scrapping of El Yunque.

On both accounts, Peterson was not aware of the conversations.

Through this hearing session, the MBI Board has been closely examining specifically the state of El Yunque’s vent trunks. Earlier testimony shows there was severe wastage found in one of the trunks in 3 hold during a Document of Compliance Audit. The Coast Guard says the American Bureau of Shipping was tasked with inspecting the other vent trunks, and they cleared them. During a later drydock on the Northwest, though, wastage was found by the Coast Guard in many other trunks, and inspectors believed it to be long term.

TOTE Services Port Engineer Tim Neeson tells the MBI he was involved in the inspection of the other vent trunks, after the ship had been moved to the drydock.  He crawled inside and chipped at the metal to determine the strength and state.

“Pretty bad, pretty rusty,” Neeson says.

He says they opened “a considerable amount” of the vent trunks, but not all of them.

They made a plan to address the needed repairs, which included changing questionable steel. Plans changed with the decision to scrap the vessel.

There has been no documentation of severe wastage found on El Faro at this time, but investigators have noted that they will continue to present evidence connected to her sister ship because of the similarities and because it can help speak to how the vessels were being managed. The vent trunks specifically have also become a point of interest, since an MBI-requested report presented during this hearing session showed it’s possible water was able to get in through the vent trunks, contributing to the flooding El Faro was experiencing ahead of her sinking.

Source: WOKV. 14 February 2017

High prices defy bleak ship demolition market

Cash buyers betting on a recovery in the South Asian ship demolition market in March have been paying above-average prices for elderly vessels.

Some ships fetched competitive prices for recycling in Pakistan, where the government has halted all ship-breaking activity after an LPG carrier, Chaumadra, exploded while being dismantled on 9 January. The incident killed five workers in the recycling yard.

The Blumenthal-controlled 1997-built Panamax bulk carrier Carola fetched USD3.16 million or USD332/ldt, while Star Bulk Carriers’ 2001-built Capesize bulk carrier Star Eleanora was purchased for USD8.26 million or USD345/ldt, a figure described by cash buyer Global Marketing Systems as “unrealistic’.

German liquidators for the KG fund behind 1997-built 2,400 teu feeder ship Anna Schepers sold the vessel for USD3.48 million or USD327/ ldt on an “as is” basis in Jebel Ali. The situation is the market in Pakistan was such that container ships, which tend to go to India, were lured away.

Source: fairplay. 15 February 2017

14 February 2017

Call to resume work at Gadani ship-breaking yard

The National Trade Union Federation demanded resumption of work at the Gadani ship-breaking yard.

Speaking at a press conference at the Lasbela Press Club, Hub, NTUF deputy general secretary Nasir Mansoor and the president of its Gadani chapter, Bashir Mehmoodani, spoke about the ongoing “difficulties faced by the daily-wage earners”.

Activities at the ship-breaking yard were suspended by Lasbela deputy commissioner under Section 144 of the criminal procedure code after the death of five workers in a fire that erupted in an LPG tanker, Chaumadra, on Jan 9.

Soon after the incident, labour unions demanded that the authorities provide facilities for the health and safety of labourers at the Gadani ship-breaking yard but disagreed on its closure, with one union insisting that the closure would worsen the living conditions of wage earners.

Thirty-two labourers were killed while working at the Gadani ship-breaking yard in the past three months, said Mr Mansoor of the NTUF. Of the 27 families affected in the Nov 1 incident, compensation was given to 21 of them, he added.

He said the reason labour unions insisted upon compensating the victims’ families was because of a “lack of implementation of law”.

Mr Mehmoodani spoke about drafting of the recent ship-breaking code by labour unions, which he said was complete and would be presented to the provincial government soon.

Source: hellenic shipping news. 09 February 2017

All Ship Breaking Hazardous Waste Disposed off Safely at Alang Yard

All the hazardous waste generated in ship recycling at Alang are being disposed off in safe and environmentally sound manner in Gujarat Pollution Control Board authorized Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facility (TSDF) site operated by Gujarat Maritime Board. Landfills are constructed as per the Guidelines of Central Pollution Control Board and provided with liner system in bottom which prevents leachate to percolate to the sub-soil.

Monitoring of environmental parameters is done by Gujarat Pollution Control Board regularly. Regular health checkup for the workers is also conducted by GMB. Environmental Impact Assessment is carried out whenever creation of new yards or expansion and upgradation of existing yards is taken up.

Workers are covered under the Employee State Insurance Corporation Scheme. Primary medical treatment to workers is provided in a hospital run by the Indian Red Cross Society where one doctor is permanently available in this hospital. For Secondary Medical Care, a 33 bedded private hospital is functioning at Alang, where two doctors are permanently available. For any eventuality, specialist doctors are also called. Arrangements for tertiary treatment have been made at HCG Hospital and Bajarang Bapa Hospital at Bhavnagar. Dedicated 108 ambulance service is provided by Gujarat Maritime Board. Ship Recycling Industries Association (SRIA) has engaged two Factory Medical Officers, for conducting medical examination of workers as per Factory Act, 1948.

This information was given by the Minister of State for Shipping Shri Pon. Radhakrishnan in written reply to a question in Lok Sabha today.

Source: business-standard. 9 February 2017

08 February 2017

Call to resume work at Gadani ship-breaking yard:

KARACHI: The National Trade Union Federation on Tuesday demanded resumption of work at the Gadani ship-breaking yard.

Speaking at a press conference at the Lasbela Press Club, Hub, NTUF deputy general secretary Nasir Mansoor and the president of its Gadani chapter, Bashir Mehmoodani, spoke about the ongoing “difficulties faced by the daily-wage earners”.

Activities at the ship-breaking yard were suspended by Lasbela deputy commissioner under Section 144 of the criminal procedure code after the death of five workers in a fire that erupted in an LPG tanker, Chaumadra, on Jan 9.

Soon after the incident, labour unions demanded that the authorities provide facilities for the health and safety of labourers at the Gadani ship-breaking yard but disagreed on its closure, with one union insisting that the closure would worsen the living conditions of wage earners.

Thirty-two labourers were killed while working at the Gadani ship-breaking yard in the past three months, said Mr Mansoor of the NTUF. Of the 27 families affected in the Nov 1 incident, compensation was given to 21 of them, he added.

He said the reason labour unions insisted upon compensating the victims’ families was because of a “lack of implementation of law”.

Mr Mehmoodani spoke about drafting of the recent ship-breaking code by labour unions, which he said was complete and would be presented to the provincial government soon.

Source: dawn. 08 February 2017

05 February 2017

Centre spurns Gujarat’s plea to end duty on scrap-ship imports:

Government says eliminating duty will hurt primary manufacturers of iron and steel

The Centre has rejected a demand from Gujarat, which leads in ship re-cycling, to give an impetus to the sector by abolishing the 2.5% Basic Customs Duty (BCD) levied on ships imported for scrap.

The state government’s proposal was turned down by the Centre saying such a move will, among other things, harm primary manufacturers of iron and steel because items obtained from the scrap generated from breaking up of ships will compete with the products manufactured by them.

According to the state government, the 2.5% BCD — levied on vessels and other floating structures for breaking up — needs to be eliminated as India’s major ship breaking industry competitors such as China and Pakistan do not impose any customs duty on scrap for ship breaking industries.

Incidentally, there is also a 2.5% BCD on melting scrap of iron or steel (other than stainless steel).

35% global share

India accounted for around 35% share globally in 2014 in ship recycling — the main method of disposal of old ships — in terms of tonnage of ship.

Within India, Gujarat is the leader in the labour-intensive segment as over 90% of ship recycling in India takes place at Alang-Sosiya Ship Recycling Yard.

The yard, developed by the Gujarat Maritime Board in 1982, provides direct and indirect employment to over 1.5 lakh people. So far, the yard has helped recycle more than 7,000 vessels and generate 54 million LDT (Light Displacement Tonnage) steel, the Gujarat government said.

It added that the ship recycling sector fulfils about 2% of the country’s steel demand, besides saving substantial amount of natural resources (as it helps reduce the need for iron ore mining), foreign currency requirement (as it leads to a decrease in imports of iron ore and steel) and reduction in the carbon footprint.

The Centre, in a recent meeting, pointed out that in 2015, following repeated requests of the steel ministry, the BCD on plates of iron and steel, Hot Rolled (HR) coils and Cold Rolled (CR) coils was increased from 5% to 12.5% in two stages.

Domestic steel makers

The move was aimed at protecting domestic steel makers in the backdrop of the decline in prices of these items as well as surge in cheap imports of iron and steel. The Centre said with that duty increase, the ‘duty differential’ between iron or steel scrap and products obtained from such scrap went up to 10%.

It said, therefore, reducing the BCD on ship-breaking further from 2.5% to zero will “disturb the rationalisation in rates between vessels and other floating structures for breaking up and melting scrap of iron or steel (other than stainless steel).”

Eliminating the duty will also increase the ‘duty differential’ (to 12.5%) between ships for breaking up and products obtained from the scrap generated after their breaking up — that is plates of iron and steel, HR Coils and CR Coils. Due to all these reasons, “there is no economic justification” for abolishing the BCD on ships for breaking up, the Centre said.

‘Ship-recycling policy’

The Gujarat government said it had in January 2016 announced a ‘ship recycling policy’ to encourage the segment, promote eco-friendly industrial activity at Alang-Sosiya, as well as to help it tide over the slowdown experienced during 2011-15, when there was a 50% fall in the number of ships dismantled and tonnage.

The State said the factors that hurt the ship recycling industry include rupee depreciation and high volatility against the U.S. dollar leading to ship breakers postponing their purchases (imports of old ships), lower increase in steel prices in India as well as competition from countries such as China, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Source: the hindu. 03 February 2017

Asbestos: The slow poison killing ship-breaking workers

Workers' deaths at the ship-breaking yards of Chittagong are a common incident, as is environmental poisoning. But researchers have now detected one deadly illness that has been silently affecting the workers for decades.

Many ships that come to the yards are filled with the mineral asbestos, used in the 1980s and ’90s for insulation on high-heat areas such as boilers and steam pipes. It has since been banned across the world for safety concerns.

In a recent study, Bangladesh Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Foundation (OSHE) found that almost 33% of the ship-breaking workers are affected by asbestosis, an incurable disease caused by breathing the mineral in the form of dust or fumes.

The health survey, led by asbestosis expert Dr Murali Dhar, among ship-breaking workers in Chittagong’s Sitakunda upazila, examined 101 workers in two phases and found 33 workers affected with the disease.
Of them, eight had become 60% disabled from the disease.

OSHE Vice-Chairperson Dr SM Morshed told the Dhaka Tribune that Bangladesh was the 31st top asbestos importing country according to a 2011 study.

Shegufta Hasnine

The findings came from a mid-term report of the survey, which will continue until July, examining a total of 500 workers.

Apart from the ship-breakers, workers of steel factories, re-rolling mills, tin factories and cement factories, where materials from the yards are supplied, may also be facing asbestos hazards.

The thin dust of asbestos covers the surface of the lungs and cannot be removed. It causes lungs to shrink permanently. It could also lead to cancer, and a disease called mesothelioma.

“People with extensive occupational exposure to the mining, manufacturing, handling, or removal of asbestos are at risk of developing asbestosis,” said Dr Murali Dhar.

“In Bangladesh, ship-breaking workers are at high risk. Symptoms are manifesting in workers who have been working for about 10 years,” he said.
Around 50 countries have prohibited asbestos import so far, the doctor said.
OSHE data said about 793,725kg asbestos, costing over $4 million, were imported in 2015-26 fiscal year while the quantity was only 18,000kg in 2014-15. Asbestos worth over $2 million was imported in the first six months of this fiscal year.

A 2011 study in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health found 12% of the 104 examined ship-breakers affected with asbestos-related diseases, of which  asbestosis accounted for 6%.

Knowledge of asbestos hazards was almost non-existent, the study observed.

OSHE survey team member Dr Faizul Ahsan Shuvro, an expert on asbestosis, said hospitals in Bangladesh have no equipment to treat for asbestosis, while the number of experts on the disease is only a handful.

“The government should create specialised hospitals for asbestosis,” he said; adding that the hospital of Bangladesh Ship Breakers Association in Chittagong has no facilities for asbestosis treatment.

The International Labour Organisation says more than 107,000 workers die each year from an asbestos-related disease. In addition, several thousand people die from asbestos in the environment.

International organisation Ship-Breaking Platform’s Bangladesh Coordinator Muhammed Ali Shahin told the Dhaka Tribune: “The scrap ships brought to Bangladesh were built in the 1980s and ’90s. The ships’ engine rooms, decks, cabins and other portions contain asbestos.”

Shahin, who is also the programme coordinator of Young Power in Social Action (YPSA), a Sitakunda-based NGO, said scrap ship importers should import non-asbestos-contaminated ships and collect certificates from the exporting country’s government.

Proper asbestos disposal management systems should also be introduced as per a Supreme Court order of 2009, he added.

The World Asbestos Report, in a 2014 article, said 98% of the workforce in ship-breaking operations of Bangladesh had no knowledge of the asbestos hazard.

Bangladesh Ship Breakers Association’s President Md Abu Taher claimed that the ship-breaking industry no longer imports asbestos-contaminated ships.
“I do not know anything about the recent health survey of OSHE,” he told the Dhaka Tribune.

One yard owner, who wished to remain anonymous, alleged that while the bigger companies might import ships after washing all hazardous materials out at the country of origin, most try to bypass monitoring and bring in dirty ships, as the washing is extremely expensive.

Md Alamgir, a former technical adviser for DNV GL International Ship Classification Society, said: “Our people are at grave risk of inhaling asbestos fibre, which is a great concern for lung diseases. Unfortunately we are not attentive enough to control the spread of asbestos fibre in the air.”

Most old ships that are scrapped in Bangladesh contain asbestos in abundance, he said. The shipyards in Sitakunda do not practise safe handling of asbestos.

The poisonous material has also spread to factories and mills, he added.

Admitting that scrap ships built in the ’80s and ’90s were being imported by the ship breaking industry, Shipping Ministry’s Joint Secretary (Ship Recycling) Mahbubul Islam told the Dhaka Tribune: “We allow anchoring a scrap ship at the outer anchorage to the beach after all safety agencies like the Department of Environment and the Explosives Department test them.

“There is no chance to beach a ship with any hazardous material.”
But since there were no regulations against asbestos, it was not being checked, he said.

“If any agency puts out a recommendation against asbestos, only then can we take into it cognisance,” he said.

The official pointed out that that asbestos was not included in any list of importable or non-importable goods in the country.

Source: Dhaka Tribune. 03 February 2017