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

30/08/2009

One killed in explosion at Alang

One person was killed and another seriously injured in an explosion due to gas leakage in a cargo ship docked near Alang shipbreaking yard, police said today.

The incident took place last night in ship 'Neptune' from Phillipines, docked in sea near plot 77 of Alang Shipbreaking yard, they said.

The deceased was identified as a 64-year-old Polish crew member while another crew member from Phillipines was criticlly injured in the mishap and is under treatment at a private hosptial in Bhavnagar city, police said.

Neptune came for dismantling at the Alang Shipbreaking Yard couple of days ago and was waiting for clearance to dock at plot 77, police said.

A complaint has been registered and investigations are on, they added.

20 August

http://www.samaylive.com/news/one-killed-in-explosion/648963.html

10/08/2009

Environment Agency stops ship leaving the UK for scrapping

Vessel detained by Environment Agency in Southampton whilst investigations continue
The UK's Environment Agency took swift action on 7 August 2009 (Friday) to stop a tanker ship – the Margaret Hill – from leaving the UK on the suspicion it was due to head abroad for illegal dismantling. This is the first time these powers have been used to stop a ship from leaving a UK port.

Late on Wednesday 5 August, the Environment Agency was made aware of concerns regarding the proposed sailing of the Margaret Hill, a 50,700-tonne liquid natural gas tanker, currently docked in Southampton. Information suggested the ship, which is likely to contain hazardous materials such as asbestos, may be destined for dismantling at an undisclosed facility abroad.

Under international law, anyone intending to send a waste ship from England and Wales abroad for dismantling must first obtain permission from the Environment Agency and our equivalent regulators in the proposed destination country.

Waste ships containing hazardous materials can only be dismantled at properly authorised dismantling facilities in either the EU or an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) country. They cannot be sent to dismantling facilities in countries outside the EU or OECD such as India or Bangladesh.

As the Environment Agency has not received nor approved any application to export the Margaret Hill, it has used its powers to put a temporary stop on the export of the ship to prevent any potential contravention of the rules on waste exports.

Liz Parkes, Head of Waste and Resource Management at the Environment Agency, said:
“Prompt investigation carried out by Environment Agency officers using the intelligence provided by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency has ensured that this ship does not leave the UK until we are clear about what is happening to it.

“We are continuing our discussions with those involved, including the finance company who recently took possession of the ship, to establish what is happening to it and to make them aware of the procedures that must be followed if they intend the ship to be exported for recycling.

“There are rules in place to ensure waste ships do not end up in developing countries, and cause damage to people and the environment. The Environment Agency will only give permission for a waste ship to be exported if it is going to an authorised recycling site in a country that wants to accept it and has necessary agreements in place.”

NOTES:
Stop notices have been issued to four parties who have control over the movement of the ship – the harbourmaster at Associated British Port of Southampton, Fortress Investment Group (UK) Ltd, V Ships UK Ltd and the master of the vessel Margaret Hill.

A list of the OECD countries can be found at www.oecd.org/countrieslist/0,3351,en_33873108_33844430_1_1_1_1_1,00.html.

For more information about the rules on exporting waste see www.environment-agency.gov.uk/business/sectors/32447.aspx.

07/08/2009

Industrial Activity on Alang beach amidst radioactive radiation dangers

An application in the matter of recent deaths on Alang beach and radioactive radiation dangers to workers has been filed in the Supreme Court of India.

The application seeks the following directions from the court among other things:
(i)Direct Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Shipping, Ministry of Labour, Gujarat Maritime Board, District Collector of Bhavnagar, Gujarat Pollution Control Board, Directorate of Industrial Safety and Health (DISH), Government of Gujarat, Labour Commissioner to explain and file an affidavit with regard to compliance with the directions given by the Court and recurrence of death of workers at Alang since September 6, 2007 order and with regard to the working conditions of the workmen there as pointed out in this application;

(ii)An independent Commissioner may be asked to submit a report on how clearance for anchoring, beaching and breaking has been given to the ships after 6 September, 2007 order and also to apprise the Court of the actual situation at the Alang beach with regard to number of ships, their country/countries of origin with their history, number of workers in each plot, villagers, fishermen, precautions taken for radioactive materials and in transferring hazardous materials or materials containing hazardous substances to avoid spillage into the sea and impact on the coastal environment

04/08/2009

Ministry of Shipping on IMO treaty on ship recycling

Note: Environmental groups have demanded that the industrial activity of ship dismantling must be taken off the beach to protect the coastal environment and the workers.

Internatioal convention on ship recycling

The proposal of signing and ratification of the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Re-cycling of Ships is under consideration.

Ship breaking industry had some apprehensions on the effect of Convention on ship recycling industry in India. India had taken up the relevant issues during the various meetings of Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC) of International Maritime Organization (IMO) and at two National IMO workshops held at Mumbai and Alang. The ship recycling industry was consulted in a meeting held on 23rd April 2009 and the stand of the Government was decided based on consensus arrived at during that meeting.

The fundamental apprehensions raised by the industry were deliberated, resolved and adhered to in the Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC). The significant areas which were debated during the Conference and decision taken included the Ship Recycling Plan, receiving tankers for re-cycling with certification as safe-for-entry and safe-for-hot work, ‘Beaching method’ of ship recycling being followed in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan etc. India had proposed for inclusion of warships within the scope of the Convention. However, same was not agreed upon, on the pretext that, none of the IMO Conventions have the provision for warships and same can be included in the national legislation as deemed necessary.

At present in India the ship breaking activity is regulated by the directives of the Honorable Supreme Court of India in their ruling in W.P. (Civil) No. 657 of 1995 vide Order dated 6th September, 2007. A draft Ship Recycling Code is being formulated by the Ministry of Steel, which takes into account the following:-

(i) the directions contained in the Honorable Supreme Court Order of 2007,

(ii) the recommendations of Technical Experts Committee (set up by the Honourable Supreme Court), and ;

(iii) the requirements of various stakeholders, which include the concerned Ministries/ Departments, Port authorities, Pollution Control Boards and Recycling Industry.

This information was given by the Union Minister of Shipping, G. K. Vasan in written reply to a question in Lok Sabha ON July 27, 2009.

Six Workers Burnt Alive at Alang Beach



Six labourers were burnt alive in an engine room at Alang ship breaking yard today morning.(Alang Police Station in picture) An incident of fire happened on plot no. 24 in the morning at Alang. Earlier, International Maritime Organisation led delegation has certified Alang beach as a safe place for hazardous industrial activity like ship dismantling.

After fire brigade rushed to the place and did its job, six bodies of laborers were found inside the engine room. The body of one worker could not be identified, the other five were identified as Dinesh, Dipak, Sanjay, Munna and Tulsi.

It is being said that the incident took place when some workers of Alang Auto & General Engineering Co. (P) Ltd were cutting down the engine portion of ship ‘M S Jesica’ in the world’s largest ship scrapping yard. The fire officials took almost three hours to douse the blaze. The exact cause of fire is yet to be ascertained.


The company is owned by Udai Agarwal and Abhinav Kumar

Agarwal's mobile no is: + 91. 9825205604 and Kumar's mobile is: + 91. 9825205204. The company's number in Alang is: + 91-2842-235774

Such things happen in a routine manner. Environment Secretary headed Supreme Court-appointed committee in its report has revealed that the fatal accident rate in Alang is in the range of 2 per 1000 as opposed to 0.34 per 1000 in the mining industry (which is considered worst in the industrial sector).

Two fatal accidents have been reported from the world’s largest ship-breaking yard in May and June 2009. The earlier accident that occurred on the 1st June, 2009 on Plot 15 of the ship-breaking yard involved a labourer identified as Ayodhyasingh Rajput. Such fatal accident occurred at Plot 24 D in May, 2009 as well. Similar accidents were reported in earlier months and years as well.

The industrial activity must be taken off the Alang beach to protect these dying workers and the coastal environment. The currently practiced “beaching method” whereby obsolete ships are run aground on ocean beaches for cutting and breaking apart in the intertidal zone can never be accomplished in a manner which is environmentally sound or protective of human health. Careful analysis of the intrinsic characteristics of beaching operations are conclusive that no amount of prescriptive improvements or protections can remedy the four fatal characteristics of intertidal beaching operations:

1. First there is the impossibility of containing pollutants on a tidal beach where hulls of ships are often breached accidentally or by cutting, or toxic paints erode or are abraded sending persistent organic pollutants, heavy metals and oils onto the beach and into the seawater;

2. Second, due to a shifting and soft wet tidal sand surface, there is the impossibility of rapidly bringing emergency response equipment, including fire-fighting equipment and vehicles, ambulances and cranes along side the ship, to assist or remove persons hurt inside the hull;

3. Third, the impossibility of allowing cranes to work alongside to lift heavy cut sections of a ship and thereby preventing heavy cut sections from being subject to gravity, shifting or falling directly into workers or into the marine environment; and

4. Finally, there is the absolute incompatibility of conducting hazardous waste management operations (which is what they are as long as ships contain hazardous wastes, in the ecologically delicate and vital coastal zone.



These fatal flaws of the beaching method inevitably will result in causing avoidable death and pollution. Please take immediate note of the grave situation in Alang and save the workers and the beach.