This group tracks the responses of shipping industry towards environmental health concerns, highlights influence of shipping companies from EU, US and Japan etc on IMO and its Marine Environment Protection Committee & South Asian governments. It is keen to restore beaches in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan to their pristine glory for the coming generations. For more information visit: www.toxicswatch.org, banasbestosindia.blogspot.com
Split Faces of Alang Beach
The first vessel – MV KOTA TENJONG was beached at Alang on 13th Feb. 1983. Since then, the yard has witnessed spectacular growth and has emerged as a leading ship Breaking Yard in the world. Tens of thousands of jobs are supported by this activity and millions of tons of steel are recovered.
Current ship-breaking is centered primarily in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and China. One of the attractions to the ship owners of having their vessels dismantled here is that the ship breakers in this part of the world receive little of the regulatory oversight that takes place in Europe or the US.
Large supertankers, car ferries, container ships, and a dwindling number of ocean liners are beached during high tide, and as the tide recedes, about 150-200 workers can break down a 10,000-tonne ship in three months, salvaging nearly every part. About 80 percent of a ship’s steel is reusable steel, cheaper than primary steel and used mostly in construction.
The salvage yards at Alang have generated controversy about working conditions, workers' living conditions, and the impact on the environment. One major problem is that despite many serious work-related injuries, the nearest full service hospital is 50 kilometres away in Bhavnagar. Alang itself is served by a small Red Cross hospital that offers only limited services.
Safer ship recycling
By Richard Meade, Wednesday 16 January 2008
VISITORS to ship breaking yards are rarely left unaffected by the experience. “Like walking through the gates of hell,” was one of the more memorable descriptions offered by a regular industry visitor to one of South Asia’s scrapping beaches.
It is no surprise then that upon returning from last week’s visit to a Bangladesh breaking yard, one of the Euro MEP visitors launched a predictably scathing report exposing the “dreadful conditions” he had witnessed.
He was right of course. Ship recycling, as we must now refer it, is carried out at an unacceptably high cost to human health. Workers are routinely exposed to all manner of toxic death traps and fatal accidents are still a depressingly regular occurrence.
So it was interesting to read that upon returning from a similar trip to Alang as part of an IMO-led delegation, delegates were “impressed” and “pleasantly surprised” by what they saw.
It is heartening to note that improvements have been made, but as the eye witness noted what he saw was not necessarily typical.
We are all well aware of the financial, political and moral arguments that have dogged shipping’s dirty little secret for years.
When the IMO delegates sit down in Nantes next week to finalise their draft ship recycling convention, they not only need to hammer out a difficult agreement between themselves. They need to produce a workable piece of legislation that will convince the rest of the world that this is enough and can make a difference to this seemingly interminable problem.