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

23/12/2010

Central govt acts tough, shipbreakers go on strike in Alang

The strike by shipbreakers in Alang has brought shipbreaking activities to a halt from 21st December with the ship-breakers protesting a notification issued by Central Excise (CE), Government of India that seeks a ship-wise break-up. The strike has continued for the third day.

The strike by ship-breakers is an attempt to pressurize the the central government. They protesting on the grounds that as they dismantled more than one ship at a time, it was not possible to furnish ship-wise details of material obtained.

This notification was issued on 26 July, 2010 where ship-breakers were asked to periodically give details of excisable and non-excisable items obtained from the ships they bring for scraping. This was after CE's intelligence wing had found large scale duty evasion by some ship breakers who used to inflate the quantity of non-excisable items.

ToxicsWatch Alliance feels that the excise officials are right in saying that the ship-breakers were not complying with all the requirements of the notification.

The Central Excise duties are the largest source of revenue for the country. Approximately 30% of the total revenue receipts are collected from Central Excise duties. The levy and collection of Central Excise duties is under the authority of Central Excise Act, 1944. Section 3 provides for the levy and collection of Central Excise duty.

The rate and amount of duty as well as the items on which duties are levied are those which are indicated in the Central Excise Tariff Act, 1985 and the schedule therein. The taxable event for Central Excise duty as per Section 3 of CEA (Central Excise Act) 1944 is the manufacture or production of goods.

It means that Central Excise duty is leviable as soon as the goods are manufactured or produced. The items on which the excise duty is levied are known as excisable goods.

For the purpose of administrative convenience the actual collection of duty is done at the time of removal of goods from the place of manufacture of production. The rate of duty, which is levied, is the rate of duty applicable to such goods or which is in force at the time of actual removal.

04/12/2010

Shipbreakers face raid by Economic Intelligence Wing

ToxicsWatch Alliance expresses its appreciation for the notification issued by Director General of Central Excise Intelligence (DGCEI), Government of India seeking ship-wise break-up of material obtained from dismantled vessels. This notification is in compliance of the Supreme Court's order which has been flouted for quite a while.

DGCEI has unearthed a multi-crore duty evasion at Alang. The ship breakers have been hiding value addition to scrap and were inflating the quantity of items exempted from excise duty.
Alang has been under the scanner of the DGCEI for massive evasion of excise duty and issuing fake Cenvat invoices.

The industry has been involved in this scam along with furnace units. Its a scam of Rs 150 crore - 200 crore a year.

A search operation was conducted by Ahmedabad zonal unit of DGCEI at 18 premises belonging to 11 major industrial groups engaged in ship-breaking in Alang. The operation resulted in recovery of incriminating documents pointing towards large-scale under-valuation of excise duty as well as issuing of fake Cenvat invoices. Alang for long has reputation of being a fake document factory.

DGCEI estimates that the ship-breaking units evade excise duty and other taxes by undervaluing their scrap by over 30%. Fake Cenvat invoices were issued without actual movement of scrap to enable their buyers avail fraudulent Cenvat credit of duty. The scrap recovered from ship-breaking is mostly used by re-rolling units, which avail SSI exemption, and do not require Cenvat invoices. Many induction furnace units across the country do not avail SSI exemption and require Cenvat invoices for input credit of duty.

"The invoices and goods of ship-breaking units of Alang are traded separately and that too at a premium. The scrap generated is delivered to re-rolling units, while Cenvat invoices are sold to furnace units without movement of goods," explained DGCEI officials.

The notification has been enforced after officials at Director General of Central Excise Intelligence noticed that except for a few units, most ship-breakers were ready to comply with the new rule.

Directorate General of Central Excise Intelligence (DGCEI) is the apex intelligence organization functioning under the Central Board of Excise & Customs, Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance, entrusted with detection of cases of evasion of duties of Central Excise and Service Tax. The Directorate General is headed by Director General. The role of the Directorate General in tackling the menace of duty evasion is manifold. It develops intelligence, especially in new areas of tax evasion through its intelligence network across the country and disseminates information in this respect, by issuing Modus Operandi Circulars and Alert Circulars to appraise field formations of the latest trends in duty evasion. Wherever found necessary, this Directorate General on its own, or in co-ordination with field formations, organises operations to unearth evasion of central excise duty and service tax. In 2004, DGCEI was entrusted with the work of detecting evasion in service tax.

Directorate General of Central Excise Intelligence (DGCEI) was earlier known as Directorate General of Anti-Evasion (DGAE). It was established in the year 1979 as an independent wing under the control of Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, New Delhi with regional units located at Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai. It became a full-fledged Directorate in 1983 headed by a Director. In 1988, the Directorate was upgraded to Directorate General under a Director General with four Zonal Units located at Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai headed by Additional Director General.

The Directorate General was expanded in the year 2000 with the setting up of a number of Regional Units under the respective Zonal Units and was renamed as DGCEI. DGCEI was re-strengthened in the year 2002 with the addition of two more Zones at Ahmedabad and Bangalore. At present DGCEI, with its Headquarters at New Delhi, has 6 Zonal Units and 18 Regional Units.

Directorate of Revenue Intelligence functions under the Central Board of Excise and Customs in the Ministry of Finance, Department of Revenue has taken note of "problems such as import of hazardous substances that will occupy centre stage in the future as the emerging global threats."

Directorate of Revenue Intelligence in its present form is a lean organisation charged essentially with the collection of intelligence, its analysis, collation, interpretation and dissemination on matters relating to violations of customs laws, and to a lesser extent, anti-narcotics law. In order to ensure effective discharge of its responsibilities, DRI maintains close liaison with all the important enforcement agencies in India like the Central Economic Intelligence Bureau, Income-Tax department, Enforcement Directorate, Narcotics Control Bureau, Directorate General of Foreign Trade, Border Security Force, Central Bureau of Investigation, Coast Guard, the State Police authorities and also with all the Customs and Central Excise Commissionerates. It also maintains close liaison with the World Customs Organisation, Brussels, the Regional Intelligence Liaison Office at Tokyo, INTERPOL and foreign Customs Administrations.

Directorate of Revenue Intelligence functions under the Central Board of Excise and Customs in the Ministry of Finance, Department of Revenue. Headed by Director General in New Delhi, it is presently divided into seven zones, each under the charge of an Additional Director General, and further sub-divided into Regional Units, Sub-Regional Units and Intelligence Cells with a complement of Additional Directors, Joint Directors, Deputy Directors, Assistant Directors, Senior Intelligence Officers and Intelligence Officers.

More information about the raid by DGCEI, New Delhi on shipbreakers of Alang to follow shortly.

28/10/2010

Alang’s death yard breaking news again

LAST WEEK 28-year-old Janardhan Choudhary became this year’s 24th fatality at the world’s largest ship-breaking yard in Alang, Gujarat. Local NGOs, however, claim that the figure is more than double that.

Such deaths have been routinely ignored by vessel owners and officials of the regulator, the Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB). But this time the news reached the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on ship-breaking, a wing of the steel ministry. And soon the Prime Minister’s Office was seeking details of the case from Dalip Singh, joint secretary at the ministry, about how the IMC planned to handle the crisis.

Central to the issue is the ministry draft code on safe ship recycling that was prepared following a Supreme Court order three years ago, but which vessel owners continue to pass over. A top GMB official rubbished the charges, claiming that the deaths had been meticulously reported by the board. “We do push ship-breakers to comply with all the regulations. But accidents can always happen,” GMB vice-chairman Pankaj Kumar said over the telephone.

Sources say 50-70 workers die every year at Alang. Alarmed, a Central government team led by Singh and S Machendranathan, additional secretary and financial adviser to the steel ministry, visited Alang last month and issued strict directions to the GMB and the ship-breakers to improve the working and living conditions of the roughly 5,000 workers at the yard.

Earlier this year, Okechukwu Ibeanu of the UN Human Rights Council, a special rapporteur on the baneful impact of the movement and dumping of toxic and hazardous products, had been shocked to see the appalling conditions in which the workers at Alang lived.

There are also concerns over environmental damage — about the reportedly chaotic manner in which beaching, cutting and shipbreaking in the inter-tidal zone are done. “It has long been obvious to experts that in such a zone these can never be done without harming the environment,” says Gopal Krishna of ToxicsWatch Alliance that works closely with the workers at Alang.

According to him, it is simply not possible to contain pollutants on a tidal beach where hulls of ships are often breached, or toxic paints erode, releasing organic pollutants, heavy metals and oils onto the beach and into the sea. But the ship-breakers have a different take on this. “The wet sand surface makes it impossible to install emergency gear in the hull,” argues Pravin Nagarsheth, president, Iron and Steel Scrap Association of India.

Now what does the regulator have to say on that?

Source: Tehelka Magazine, Vol 7, Issue 43, Dated October 30, 2010

Code of conduct for ship-breaking yards
Kunal Bose / October 26, 2010
Business Standard

The other day in a stormy evening, three workers at a ship breaking yard at Sitakundu in the Chittagong district of Bangladesh were crushed to death as a heavy steel plate fell on them. In nearly past two decades, no less than 500 workers were killed in accidents while at work at Sitakundu, home to the world’s second largest ship breaking yard after Alang along the Arabian Sea coast in Gujarat. This Bangladeshi toll is exclusive of many deaths, mostly unrecorded, caused by handling of hazardous waste materials and emission of toxic fumes.

Arguably, the scene at Alang was equally despicable till the Supreme Court started issuing orders to the government to ensure the safety, health and welfare of ship-breaking workers. The ministry of steel, again under the court directive, is formulating a code of conduct for the yards incorporating the recommendations of a committee of technical experts. A common problem of India and Bangladesh is that in spite court directives, ship-breaking yards, which were a law unto themselves till some time ago, are still prone to breaking rules. That’s why workers get killed or injured at yards not infrequently and areas in and around Alang and Sitakundu remain dangerously polluted. The scene is no different at Pakistan’s Gadani ship-breaking yard either.

NGOs and environment activists would want such yards to be shut. But since condemned ships are a good source of clean ferrous scrap good for direct rerolling into new steel products, governments of the three countries would rather subject yard owners in boundaries of discipline than go for yard closure. A Bangladeshi minister has made the government’s policy choice clear by saying that “our closing down the ship-breaking yard will turn the country into a market for foreign ironmongers. We are trying to create a separate zone for the industry in line with the prime minister’s directive.” India looks at the ship-breaking industry more or less in the same way.

According to G K Basak, executive secretary of Joint Plant Committee of the steel ministry, of India’s annual requirements of up to 12 million tonnes of ferrous scrap, as much as 3.5 million tonnes this year will come from dismantled ships, against 3 million tonnes in 2009-10. The generation of good quality rerollable steel in large quantities when ocean going ships are beached and dismantled underpins the importance of ship-breaking industry, its present pitfalls notwithstanding. While scrap steel originating in ships is the favoured feedstock for many rerolling units here, nearly 200 rerollers in Bangladesh depend heavily on about 2 million scrap generated at Sitakundu. Gadani generated over 850,000 tonnes of scrap last year for use by Pakistan’s rerolling industry.

Over 65 per cent of steel recovered from a condemned ship comes good for rerolling. But why so? This is because rerolling of ship plates require reheating of only up to 1,000 degree centigrade and that greatly restricts scale formation. Ship steel, as rerollers say, has fine grains giving it a good corrosion resistance character. A steel ministry paper says shapes and sections rerolled from ship steel are largely immune from physical defects like seams, internal cracks and furnace burns. Rebars made from low ductility ship steel lend themselves well to intensive cold twisting. Ship steel not found good for rerolling goes for melting.

Roughly 45,000 ocean going ships are floating on waters and each year up to 1,000 ships are beached. Ships remain seaworthy for up to 25 years. But there is a general tendency among ship owners to keep their vessels afloat beyond their useful life when the freight market stays buoyant. Like other sectors, freight market bore the burden of both financial crisis followed by downturn in world trade. Baltic main index continues to behave erratically. Shipping will always be impacted by what happens to the global economy, for nearly 90 per cent of traded goods globally are transported by sea.

In any case, at all times the three countries in this sub-continent will remain locked in competition to buy old ships. Ship-breaking, though it has a murky past, has an important bearing on the coastal economy of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. It is a highly labour intensive operation providing jobs to both skilled and unskilled workers. The units at Alang accounting for over 90 per cent of the industry, provide employment to over a lakh of people. More than the revenue consideration for the government, what is important is that to the extent ship steel is generated and recycled either through rerollers or furnaces leads to conservation of iron ore, coal and energy.

This industry cannot be wished away. But at the same time strict vigilance of the work of ship breakers is called for. The government should also nudge them to use modern fuel based torches, mechanical cutters, detonation charges for handling very thick metal and cranes for transfer of steel and other materials. Why should the workers be pressured to carry heavy metal plates endangering their lives? Every time a ship is to be broken, it must have a comprehensive dismantling plan from the superstructure to the hull.

SOUTH ASIAN SCRAPPING BEACH UNDER SCRUTINY BY U.S. OFFICIALS

BP’s SCHEME TO DUMP TOXIC SHIP ON SOUTH ASIAN SCRAPPING BEACH UNDER SCRUTINY BY U.S. OFFICIALS

28 October 2010. Seattle, USA. – According to the toxic watchdog organization Basel Action Network (BAN), a U.S. flagged oil tanker named Prince William Sound, one that is part owned by BP and formerly was used to haul BP oil, is about to be sold for scrapping on the notorious shipbreaking beaches in South Asia. The ship, built in 1975 and whose namesake and owner are all too familiar reminders of recent environmental disasters, is likely to contain toxic wastes such as asbestos, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other hazardous substances, and as such poses a threat to workers and the environment should it be exported to a developing country.

The vessel is reportedly moored now in a BP shipping depot in Malaysia, and its transfer is imminent. If the U.S. government fails to quickly intervene, the ship could be run up on the beaches of India, Bangladesh or Pakistan within days, where impoverished laborers break down ships by hand, subjecting them to explosions, accidents and occupational disease from exposure to toxic substances. This “beaching” method of scrapping ships is also devastating to local environments due to pollution and mangrove forest destruction undertaken to make room for the ships.

According to officials at the United States Maritime Administration (MARAD), the sale must first be approved by them based in part by a determination by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the export will not violate the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) or other environmental laws. They have been notified by the ship’s owners (it is 25% owned by BP) of their intent to sell the vessel for scrap to a cash-buyer, a middleman who allows companies like BP to both sidestep controversy and avoid direct sales to Asian shipbreaking yards and also make a large profit by avoiding responsible and more expensive ship recycling in the U.S. or another developed country.

“BP is proving once again a callous disregard for people and the environment,” said BAN’s Green Ship Recycling Campaign Director, Colby Self. “The EPA and MARAD must step in now and prevent what could be another BP-sponsored environmental disaster.”

Unlike BP, Chevron opted this year to recycle two of its tankers in Brownsville, Texas, in accordance with strict U.S. environmental and labor protection laws. Chevron’s environmentally responsible ship disposal decisions in 2010 generated U.S. green recycling jobs at a time when U.S. jobs are much needed.

Due to the year of construction, the Prince William Sound likely contains PCBs, asbestos of other hazardous materials within its construction. The EPA has noted, “Although no longer commercially produced in the United States, PCBs are most likely to be present in vessels deployed before the 1979 PCB ban." [1] The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), in force since 1979, prohibits the export of PCB contaminated material for disposal purposes. However, the U.S. EPA has long struggled to enforce TSCA against shipping industry violators, particularly when vessels operate outside U.S. waters and beyond EPA jurisdiction.

MARAD is required by law to authorize the foreign scrapping and reflagging to foreign registry of all U.S. flagged vessels; but in past years, BAN’s protests have revealed that MARAD’s review neglected to consider the potential violation of laws that were enforceable by agencies outside MARAD’s jurisdiction. As a result, many U.S. vessels were reflagged and sold or scrapped abroad in violation of TSCA. Now, MARAD and EPA have established a new process of review in which MARAD seeks EPA judgment to ensure compliance with TSCA prior to any reflagging or foreign scrapping authorization.

“The new Maritime Administration should be applauded for promising to more carefully monitor ship sales to prevent violations of U.S. environmental laws,” said Mr. Self. “But this is the test case. It’s time to take a stand and uphold environmental and labor protection laws for everyone, everywhere. We urge MARAD and EPA to halt this sale as a matter of urgency.”

For more information, contact:

Mr. Colby Self
Green Ship Recycling Campaign Director
Basel Action Network
+001 206 250 5652

[1] National Guidance: Best Management Practices for Preparing Vessels Intended to Create Artificial Reefs, http://www.epa.gov/owow/oceans/habitat/artificialreefs/documents/pcb.pdf

17/10/2010

Death of a Alang Worker & New Draft Code on Safe Ship Breaking/Recycling

To

Dr Dalip Singh
Joint Secretary
Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Shipbreaking
Ministry of Steel
Government of India
New Delhi

Subject-Death of Alang Worker & New Draft Code on Regulations for Safe and Environmentally Sound Ship Breaking/Recycling

Dear Sir,

This is with reference to the death of Janardhan Choudhary, a 28 year old ship breaking worker, working in M/s Bansal Infra Co. Ltd. at yard no.154 Alang Shipbreaking yard, who died as a result of a fatal accident at work on October 12, 2010 at about 3.00 pm.

While he was working as a helper, scrap material from the ship fell down in the open wing tank manhole of the ship. He was shifted to hospital at Bhavnagar, 50 kms away from Alang and Sosiya ship breaking yards, where he died. Janardhan was a migrant labour from Siddhartha Nagar, an impoverished district of Uttar Pradesh. Why is the hospital 50 km away?. Does Ministry of Steel's Draft Code on Safe Ship Recycling address it adequately? Why has Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) not been held accountable for its acts of omission and commission and why its structural competence to supervise secondary steel production through ship recycling has not been examined so far.

Even as the Steel Ministry is seized with the issue of 58 page Draft Code on Regulations for Safe and Environmentally Sound Ship Recycling prepared in compliance of the Supreme Court's order dated September 6, 2007 to improve the situation, each such death underlines the fact of non-improvement on the Alang beach. Since January 2010 alone, 17 workers have died while at work. Most of the workers are poor migrants from poor areas of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, Chattisgarh and Jharkhand and work for meagre wages in a hazardous and toxic working environment. Approximately 50 workers per year are killed on the Alang beach.

I wish to congratulate the central government’s team led by Mr S. Machendranathan, Additional Secretary & Financial Adviser and you for having visited Alang Beach, Bhavnagar, Gujarat on 17th September, 2010. The death of workers after your visit demonstrates the significance of such an initiative.

IMC’s site visit under Mr Machendranathan merits appreciation for it has issued strict directions to GMB and Shipbreakers to sort out the issue of housing facilities for workers in the shipbreaking industry within three months. Such sensitivity on the part of IMC is rare and environmental and labour groups are encouraged to expect similar action in the matter of enviro-occupational hazards.

Prior to your visit in Alang, there was a visit by Prof. Okechukwu Ibeanu, UN Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Human Rights Council on the adverse effects of the movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment of human rights. I wish to draw your attention towards the statement of the UN Special Rapporteur after his visit to India. Prof. Ibeanu during his 10-day mission, from 11 to 21 January 2010, assessed the progress made by the country in minimising the adverse effects that hazardous activities, such as shipbreaking have on the human rights of countless individuals working in these sectors or living close to the places where these activities take place. He visited a number of shipbreaking yards as well. His statement is attached.

Prof. Ibeanu has noted that in India, ships are currently dismantled on the beach, a method commonly referred to as “beaching”, and its actual impact on the surrounding environment and the livelihood of local communities relying on agriculture and fishing for their subsistence continues to be debated. “In order to ascertain the environmental impact of the shipbreaking industry, I recommend that an independent study be carried out to assess the actual and potential adverse effects that may be caused by the discharge of hazardous material into the natural environment, as well as the level of risk”, he said.

On behalf of the ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), I had accompanied the UN Special Rappartour and Stefano Sensi, Human Rights Officer, UN Human Rights Council during their visit.

The Special Rapporteur has finally noted that he was “shocked by the extremely poor conditions in which most workers live in Alang and Mumbai”. Semi-skilled and unskilled workers live in makeshift facilities lacking basic sanitation facilities, electricity and even safe drinking water. “I call on Governmental authorities to provide appropriate plots of lands, and facilitate the construction of adequate housing facilities for those who work in the yards. Adequate sanitation and drinking water facilities should also be put in place”. His report will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council.

As you are aware I have been in correspondence with the Steel Ministry and other concerned ministries. This letter is with reference to the current ship breaking/ recycling matters. I wish to draw your attention towards five specific issues:-

1. Having read the Chapter 10 of Annual Report of the Steel Ministry pertaining to shipbreaking and the minutes of the IMC meetings, I wish to submit that the minutes of IMC meeting held after 5.10.2009 are not available on the ministry's website as yet.

2. Although Hon'ble Supreme Court through its order dated October 14, 2003 mentions that an Inter-Ministerial Committee be set up for ship breaking comprising of labour and environmental organisations besides members of Ministry of Shipping, Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Ministry of Labour, Gujarat Maritime Board, Gujarat State Pollution Control Board, Central Pollution Control Board, Steel Scrap and Ship breakers Association etc, the same has not been done so far. More than 6 years have passed since the setting up of IMC but it has not invited workers and environmental groups to make their presentations and testimonies.

3. Although there is need for further modifications in the 58 page Draft Code on Regulations for Safe and Environmentally Sound Ship Recycling, having studied the Draft it is matter of relief that Ministry of Steel is making sincere efforts to comply with the Supreme Court order of 14th October, 2003 and 6th September 2007 to protect the fragile coastal environment of Alang Beach and the most vulnerable workers involved in the shipbreaking activity. While I will send a detailed comment on the Draft Code, I wish to submit few very crucial issues for your consideration.

In Chapter 3 of the Code at Section 3.1.2 there is mention of "dry dock" method for ship recycling among others. And in Chapter 6 of the Code at Section 6.6.1 (a) there is reference to Coastal Regulation Zone-1991 which has decreed the following regulation on 19th February 1991 under the reference Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, “For regulating development activities, the coastal stretches within 500 metres of the high tide line of the landward side are classified into 4 categories. Paragraph 2 of the Notification lists out the 'Prohibited activities and exceptions' The activities declared as prohibited within the CRZ, namely, Para 2 (ii) states, " manufacture, handling, storage or disposal of hazardous substances as specified in the 'Notifications of the Government of India in the Ministry of Environment and Forests' No. S.O. 594 (E) dated 28th July 1989, S.O. 996 (E) dated 27th November 1989 and G.S.R. 1037 (E) dated 5th December 1989. Para 2 (v) states, “discharge of untreated wastes and effluents from industries, cities towns and other human settlements."

It has been obvious to the vast majority of ship recycling experts and waste management authorities that the methodless process of “beaching" whereby ships are run aground on 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:

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;

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;

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

Fourthly, 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 operations inevitably will result in causing avoidable death and pollution. No amount of band-aid guidelines and criteria can cure the malignancy inherent in beaching operations. To expect prevention of adverse effects to human health and the environment from massive toxic ships on an intertidal beach already makes the fulfillment of such objective impossible.

The worst outcome is that by not drawing a clear line at the outset, this fatally flawed beaching operation will get legitimized, millions might be spent into trying to mitigate the inherently inappropriate and dangerous working platform and the Code will have succeeded in perpetuating death and pollution for many years to come.

4. In the Draft Code there is reference to IMO Convention on Ship Recycling, I wish to submit that a vast body of civil society environmental, development human rights, and labor organizations besides the ship breaking industry itself have come together to condemn this Convention as a historical failure, if it cannot muster the political courage to cease the scandalous pretense that scrapping aged ships containing hazardous wastes and oils on ocean beaches in the intertidal zone might be somehow a viable way to achieve the safe and environmentally sound recycling of ships.

The Draft Code and its planners cannot remain “method neutral” as such a statement is “science deficient” in the matter of beaching operations. Such a stance of the Draft Code is morally deficient -- for to be “method neutral” is to be neutral on actual matters of life and death. How many of these deaths could have been prevented were proper equipment such as cranes, fire fighting vehicles, and ambulances been made accessible to the fallen workers?

The fact that countries such as Norway, member States of the EU, the USA, and Japan can pretend that this method is viable is in fact the height of hypocrisy, as such operations would be banned in those countries in an instant for violations of coastal zone management laws, occupational safety and health laws, and hazardous waste management laws.

The Code must include the following text:-"Ship Recycling Facilities authorized by the concerned government agency shall establish and utilize procedures to ensure that ship recycling operations taking place on intertidal flats, or ocean beaches or other working platforms which prevent: rapid access to ships by emergency equipment; the ability to utilize cranes and lifting equipment at all times alongside vessels; and the possibility of full containment of pollutants during all cutting and stripping operations, are prohibited";

Additionally, the Code's Safety Health Environment (SHE) policy should include provisions for technical assistance to GMB with an aim to direct funds toward phasing-out beaching based ship breaking operations and replacing it with dockside, slip, or dry dock platforms as a matter of urgency and responsibility. "Dry dock" does find mention in the draft Code as well.

5. I wish to draw your attention towards the unpardonable and unacceptable act of rampant forgery of documents in the ship breaking industry. The matter of dumping of Platinum II (MV Oceanic, SS Independence), a US ship on fabricated documents illustrated it in the most explicit way. Pursuant to my earlier communications, I got a letter from Director, Union Ministry of Environment & Forests dated 16 December, 2009 in response to my letter dated 10th December, 2009 "regarding "Platinum -II" raising certain issues relating to the ownership and port of registry of the ships arriving at Alang for breaking purposes."

I had argued that most of the ships which entered Indian waters post September 6, 2007 order of the Supreme Court in likelihood came on fake documents. Director, Union Ministry of Environment & Forests wrote to me, "Since Ministry of Steel is the nodal Ministry for shipbreaking activities in the country, your representation has been forwarded to the Ministry of Steel (copy enclosed for ready reference)." I wish to know whether there has been any probe in the matter of ships that have entered Indian waters on fake documents in general and in the particular case of Platinum –II.

6. The Draft Code does not take cognisance of the fact that Basel Convention on was signed by India on 15th March, 1990 and ratified on 24th June, 1992. In keeping with the same, the Code should refer to the recommendations of High Powered Committee headed by Prof. M G K Menon, incorporate Basel Convention's Technical Guidelines for the Environmentally Sound Management of the Full and Partial Dismantling of Ships (attached), Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)'s Technical Guidelines on Ship breaking and reproduce the ship breaking specific directions of the Supreme Court dated 14th October, 2003 (repeated ad verbatim in the 6th September, 2007 order).

The apex court's order reads, "(16) At the international level, India should participate in international meetings on ship-breaking at the level of the International Maritime Organisation and the Basel Convention's Technical Working Group with a clear mandate for the decontamination of ships of their hazardous sub-stances such as asbestos, waste oil, gas and PCBs, prior to export to India for breaking." One of the fourteen Terms of Reference on which the High Powered Committee was to give its report and recommendations "Decontamination of ships before they are exported to India for breaking.” The apex court's order endorsed Basel Convention. (Order is attached)

The CPCB states in its 'Environmental Guidelines for Shipbreaking industries', "Old vessels containing or contaminated with substances such as PCBs, waste asbestos dust and fibre, lead and lead compounds are accordingly classified as hazardous materials. The customs authority and /or the concerned State Maritime Board should ensure this and issue a certificate to this effect that the vessel is free from prohibited materials." So far IMC has not been able to make Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) comply with such guidelines.

I have learnt that GMB misled this Supreme Court’s Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Ship breaking into visiting Alang Beach on a holiday because 17th September was a Vishwkarma Puja Day, a holiday to assess the workers living and working condition. In the aftermath of the workers death on October 12, GMB and other concerned agencies must be made to face exemplary punishment

In view of the beleaguered marine environment of the beaches and desperate workers,
I am hopeful of a positive outcome from the deliberations of the IMC.

While the vital steps that I have proposed will be helpful, you may refer to relevant case laws at: http://www.basel.int/ships/relevcaselaw.html as well.

I will be glad to share more information. I will send a detailed comment on the 58 Draft Code shortly.

Thanking you


warm regards
Gopal Krishna
Convener
ToxicsWatch Alliance
Focal Point, Platform on Shipbreaking
Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI)
New Delhi
Mb: 9818089660
Skype id: witnesskrishna
E-mail: krishna2777@gmail.com
Blog: imowatch.blogspot.com
Web: www.toxicswatch.com

Cc/

Shri S. Machendranathan, Additional Secretary & Financial Adviser, Ministry of Steel
Sh L Siddhartha Singh, Director, Ministry of Steel
Dr Saroj, Director, Ministry of Environment & Forests

16/10/2010

Yet Another Worker dies at Alang Beach

Since January 2010, 17 workers died at work at Alang beach. Most of the workers are poor migrants from poor areas of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand and Gujarat and work for meagre wages in a hazardous and toxic working environment.

Janardhan Choudhary, a 28 year old ship breaking worker, working in M/s Bansal Infra Co. Ltd. at yard no.154 Alang Shipbreaking yard, died as a result of a fatal accident at work on October 12, 2010 at about 3.00 pm.

While he was working as a Malpani (helper), scrap material from the ship fell down in the open wing tank manhole of the ship. He was shifted to hospital at Bhavnagar, 50 kms away from Alang and Sosiya ship breaking yards, where he died. Janardhan is a migrant labour from Siddhartha Nagar, an impoverished district of Uttar Pradesh. He is married and his family stays at his native place.

Mr. Ram Patel, Vice President of Alang Sosiya Ship Recycling & General Workers Association (ASSRGWA) along with colleagues rushed to the hospital.

The ASSRGWA demanded strict action against the employer and the Labour Department for non-enforcement of safety measures on the yards statutory compensation and dues to the family members of the deceased worker.

The ship breaking industry in Alang and Sosiya employs over 55,000 workers. Despite the number of deadly accidents and hundreds of workers' death, a full-fledged hospital is 50 kms away.

According to a survey published by International Metalworkers' Federation in 2007, on average 50 workers per day get injured and some of them seriously.

Source: http://groups.google.com/group/shipbreaking?hl=en

13/10/2010

Ship-breaking Update

The shipbreaking site located on the Alang beach, Bhavnagar on western India's Gujarat state, scrapped about 350 vessels in the 2009-10 fiscal year, producing about 3m t of scrap.

In India, pursuant to Supreme Cout order, a Draft Code on Regulations for Safe and Environmentally Sound Ship Recycling (As on 30.09.2010) IMC Members are requested to send their comments/suggestions by e-mail to mfsteel@nic.in (Kind attention:-Under Secretary,MF Desk,Ministery of Steel,Udyog Bhawan,New Delhi 110107)(As on 30.09.2010)

In Pakistan, construction and engineering industries depend on the steel re-rolling industry, which acquires its raw material from ship-breaking or imported scrap.

Under the new policy the steel production target was set at 10 million tonnes by the year 2015 and 15 million tonnes by the year 2020. The present capacity of steel production is four million tonnes as against demand of over 6 million tonnes per annum, showing a gap of 2.5 to three million tonnes, that is, being met through import. The steel production units are functioning bellow capacity because of raw material shortage and slack demand.

To expand the steel sector huge amount is needed that Pakistan cannot afford. Besides, other elements like security of investment, foreign experts and continuous availability of raw materials at reasonable prices, uninterrupted supply of electricity is also required that lacks in Pakistan. Moreover, the steel sector is directly linked with the international market where iron and steel prices are on the rise and Pakistan has to follow the trend, as it cannot stand alone.

The steel re-rolling industry of the country is presently facing numerous problems as it is not getting raw material in sufficient quantity and utilising only 40 percent capacity against normal use of 80 to 90 percent. Moreover, due to slowdown in the construction activities, sale of steel products has decreased. For instance the production capacity of the re-rolling mills in Karachi was 5,000 tonnes per day, but the demand was only 2,000 tonnes per day.

Due to the shortage of raw material and other problems the prices of steel bars in the domestic market had at a time reached Rs 87,000 per tonne, which are now available at Rs 55,000 per tonne. The price was the lowest at Rs 40,000 per tonne last year when the scrap ships prices were at $250 per tonne to $280 per tonne in the international market.

The scenario of the steel sector in Pakistan indicates that this industry has a bright growth potential. The per capita consumption of steel in Pakistan is only 38 kilogrammes (kgs) as against global average of 175kg. If very modest increase in per capita steel consumption took place and reached 80kg in the next 10 years, the steel demand would be 16 million tonnes per annum for a population of about 200 million by the year 2020.

However, a 26.9 percent negative growth rate was recorded during July-March 2009-10 in steel products. Among the major factors behind this was the financial crunch in Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM).

World over the unprecedented economic slowdown started in 2008. It caused crash of steel products market in terms of both price and quantity wise and the production of steel industry had suffered very badly during 2008-09, which continued during 2009-10

Pakistan is an importer of basic raw materials of steel and due to the above situation PSM has suffered huge losses of Rs 26.5 billion in 2008-09, even it has not been able to import basic raw materials, iron ores and coal, as per its requirement. During July 2009 to February 2010, capacity utilisation was at 43 percent only.

Future plan: The domestic consumption of steel products is around 5.6 metric tonnes per year. Expansion in the production capacity of Pakistan Steel to three metric tonnes per year or above was planned. The plan would be implemented in two phases and completed in the next three to five years.

Pakistan Steel has also started an indigenisation programme to replace costly imported iron ore by locally available material and it is expected that 250,000 metric tonnes local iron ore will be arranged for PSM this year, which will be enhanced to 500,000 metric tonnes within the next three years.

Ship-breaking industry: The ship-breaking industry played an important role in developing steel industry in Pakistan. This industry started in 1970 and reached to its peak in 1980s.

The ship-breaking industry is an indispensable part of the economy for developing countries since it requires a small amount of investment and being mainly dependent on manual labour and is a good source of employment for the locals. From the point of ship owners, it provides a cash flow for the renewal of fleet, by disposing irreparable ships.

Ship breaking is perhaps as old as the shipping industry itself. It is the process of dismantling of an obsolete ship’s structure for scrapping. The scrapped metals, steel or iron, are used by the respective re-rolling industries as raw material whose products are used by the construction and engineering industry in Pakistan.

A ship’s life lasts for an average of 25 to 30 years after that it is supposed not safe to sail. About 95 percent of these ships are dismantled to recover steel. Scrapping a ship can make the owner an earning of about $1.9 million. However, the ships built before the 80’s have tonnes of extremely toxic substances, hazardous to human and environmental health.

Conducted at a pier, dry dock or dismantling ship includes a wide range of activities, from removing all gear and equipment to cutting down and recycling the ship infrastructure. The activity is a challenging job due to complexity of the ships and the environmental, safety and health issues involved.

In the early days wooden ships condemned were often burned or even carefully ‘lost’ in some convenient spot. Today the ship-breaking industry is run on scientific lines, and nothing is wasted. Sooner or later, every ship that sails into the sea is going to make its last voyage and the odds are that final journey will last at one of the ship-breaking yard on the coast of India, Pakistan or Bangladesh. The term ‘ship-breaking’ is slowly being replaced by ‘ship-recycling’.

In the 1970’s ship-breaking was done in the docks of Europe. It was supposed a highly mechanised industrial operation. But as European countries became more environmentally conscious they started taking health and safety measures, which escalated costs of scrapping. Therefore, about 90 percent of the ship-breaking industry moved to Asian countries, like India, Bangladesh, China, Pakistan and Turkey, as these countries were less environmentally and health conscious. Every year about 600 to 700 ships die and are brought to the beaches of Asia for scrapping.

From early 1980s to maximise profits ship owners sent their vessels to the scrap yards of India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Philippines and Vietnam where wages, health and safety standards were minimal and workers were ready to accept minimum wages. It was estimated that over 100,000 workers were employed at ship-breaking yards worldwide. Of them about 45,000 ocean going ships in the world about 700 (1.55 percent) are taken out of service every year. At the end of their sailing life, ships are sold so that the valuable steel, about 95 percent, of ships mass can be reused.

21/09/2010

Two ship-breaking yards sued in Bangladesh

The Department of Environment (DoE) sued two ship-breaking yards at coastal belt of Sitakunda upazila, Chittagong yesterday for dismantling ships without DoE clearance and polluting environment.

DoE investigator Saiful Ashraf filed the cases against -- Mak International and MM Ship-breaking Industry of Shitalpur and Jahanabad with Sitakunda Police Station and the Environmental Court.

Saiful alleged that the yards were set up without environment clearance or required mitigation measures and facilities for removing liquid and solid hazardous waste during cleaning and dismantling the ships.

“None of the ship-breaking yards of Sitakunda have clearance certificates by the DoE,” he said.

Owners of Mak International dismantled two ships -- MV Badri and MT Bow on September 16 one of which was dismantled at a rented yard of MM Ship-breaking Industry, informed DoE Director Md Zafar Alam.

“A portion of the MV Badri was found in a dismantled state,” he said adding, “Process is under way to seize both the ships to provide evidence for the cases”.

The accused individuals in the case against Mak International include the yard owners Joynal Abedin, Jamil Abedin, Mohammad Alauddin and the manager Firoz Ahmed.

In another case the accused include three owners of Mak International and owners of MM Ship-breaking, Monwara Begum, her husband Abu Mohsin and manager Jahangir Alam.

Nine out of 122 ship-breaking yards of Sitakunda coastal belt were sued since April 21 this year.

http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=155357

Beaching of vessels in Bangladesh Starts Again?

As news began to filter through of the success of a recycler beaching two vessels in Bangladesh this week, prices in India shot up by about USD 10 to USD 20 per tonne as many in the industry began to anticipate a return of the big hitters to the bidding tables. This very anticipation unexpectedly drove prices up this week as a total of seven market units were committed to Alang buyers.

However, the reality on the ground in Bangladesh remains slightly different and the extreme resistance in the wake of the beachings is expected to place into jeopardy, subsequent attempts to import and beach vessels. Consequently, we expect little activity from Bangladesh until the rest of the local yards open up, which is still expected to take some time.

Meanwhile, based on the extremely high prices of some purchases this week, it appears some cash buyers are taking positions with their fixtures. On the other hand, others remain on the conservative side, possibly due to a healthy dose of inventory already on hand. As a result, differences of almost USD 40 per tonne have been seen between those looking to take positions (perhaps with the Bangladesh angle in mind) and those inclined to stay on the more cautious/realistic side.

At the time of writing, high profile Avin, Tanker Pacific and Great Eastern vessels were being negotiated and the spread of levels was of some mystery to both owners and brokers alike.

Finally, Turkey too jumped in on the action this week and managed to take home single decker M/V KOBZAR I of 1,870 LDT at a firm price of USD 295 per LT LDT.

For week 38, GMS demo rankings for the week are as below:


Country Market Prices GEN Cargo Sentiment Tanker Prices

India Bullish USD405/ltldt USD445/ltldt

Pakistan Steady USD395/ltldt USD430/ltldt

China Bullish USD380/ltldt USD400/ltldt

Bangladesh Bullish N/A N/A


Per LDT

(Sourced from GFMS)

20/09/2010

Environmental & Labour Groups Denounce IMO’s Treaty & FTAs


Press Release

Environmental & Labour Groups Denounce IMO’s Treaty & FTAs

Alang workers live & work in Guantánamo Bay like condition

UN Special Rappartour Shocked by Dumping of Obsolete Ships on Gujarat Beach & Workers’ Plight

Gujarat Maritime Board takes Central Team on Shipbreaking for a ride


New Delhi 20/9/2010- A central government’s team led by S. Machendranathan, Additional Secretary & Financial Adviser and Dr Dalip Singh, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Steel visited Alang Beach, Bhavnagar, Gujarat on 17th September evening on a Vishwkarma Puja Day, a holiday to assess the workers living and working condition. Notably, Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) misled this Supreme Court’s Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Ship breaking into visiting Alang Beach on a holiday! A Round Table on “Ship Owners Liability for Enviro-occupational Exposures on Alang Beach & Global Shipping Industry” on 15 September held in New Delhi took note of the IMC’s visit to Bhavnagar and Alang and issued statement seeking removal of ship breaking industrial operations from the Alang beach. (Statement of Labour & Environmental Groups on Shipping Industry attached)

While IMC’s site visit merits appreciation for it has directed strictly to GMB and Shipbreakers to sort out the issue of housing facilities for workers in the shipbreaking industry within three months and report to IMC. It has taken serious note of inaction by the GMB and shipbreakers with regard to housing, hospital facilities, sanitation and occupational health rights of workers, the unregulated industrial operations in the fragile coastal environment is unpardonable and unacceptable. IMC is also seized with the issue of ship owners’ liability and rampant forgery of documents in Alang in the aftermath of the dumping of Platinum II, a US ship on fabricated documents.

There is a grave apprehension that most of the end-of-life ships that entered Indian waters after the Supreme Court’s order of September 2007 (Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice S H Kapadia Bench) have indulged in forgery of documents that merits high level probe. Letters requesting for the same has been sent to the Home Minister.
The migrant causal workers of Alang who come from Bihar, UP, Jharkhand and Orissa live and work in conditions akin to the detainees of Guantánamo Bay Military Detention Centre of US who exist like slaves with no human rights. If Alang beach and its industrial operations are made accessible to media, it would emerge that the war against slavery is far from over.

Earlier, the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Human Rights Council on the adverse effects of the movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment of human rights, Prof. Okechukwu Ibeanu during his 10-day mission, from 11 to 21 January 2010, the Special Rapporteur assessed the progress made by the country in minimising the adverse effects that hazardous activities, such as shipbreaking have on the human rights of countless individuals working in these sectors or living close to the places where these activities take place. He visited a number of shipbreaking yards as well. (Prof Ibeanu’s statement is attached.)
Prof. Ibeanu noted that in India, ships are currently dismantled on the beach, a method commonly referred to as “beaching”, and its actual impact on the surrounding environment and the livelihood of local communities relying on agriculture and fishing for their subsistence continues to be debated. “In order to ascertain the environmental impact of the shipbreaking industry, I recommend that an independent study be carried out to assess the actual and potential adverse effects that may be caused by the discharge of hazardous material into the natural environment, as well as the level of risk”, he said. ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA) accompanied the UN Special Rappartour and Stefano Sensi, Human Rights Officer, UN Human Rights Council during their visit. The Special Rapporteur has finally noted that he was “shocked by the extremely poor conditions in which most workers live in Alang and Mumbai”. Semi-skilled and unskilled workers live in makeshift facilities lacking basic sanitation facilities, electricity and even safe drinking water. “I call on Governmental authorities to provide appropriate plots of lands, and facilitate the construction of adequate housing facilities for those who work in the yards. Adequate sanitation and drinking water facilities should also be put in place”. His report will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council.

The Supreme Court’s committee on Shipbreaking comprises of members from Ministry of Shipping, Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF), Ministry of Labour, Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB), Central Pollution Control Board, Indian Steel Scrap and Ship breakers Association of India (ISSSAI) etc. for the implementation of court Orders and other related functions. The apex court had asked for the inclusion of labour and environmental groups in the committee but the same has not been done till date.

The participants of the Round Table were severely critical of the free trade agreements, role of GMB, Ministry of Shipping and UN’s International Maritime Organisation (IMO)’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) that has been working at the behest of the ship owners from developed countries. IMO has misled the ship recycling counties to adopt an International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships.*

Environmental and labour groups of India in particular and South Asia in general have called for the boycott of this anti-environment and anti-labour treaty. Even the shipbreaking industry is opposed to this treaty and is beginning to see the merit in the Basel Convention and its Basel Ban Amendment.

So far the Convention has been signed, subject to ratification or acceptance, by France, Italy, the Netherlands, Saint Kitts and Nevis and Turkey. Turkey, one of the five major ship recycling nations in the world, has signed this regressive treaty. The Round Table underlined the double standards of European countries like France and the Netherlands who appear to be hand in glove with countries like Japan to promote unregulated free trade in hazardous wastes through Free Trade Agreements by undermining Basel Convention and Basel Ban Amendment and becoming party to IMO’s treaty that allows ongoing contamination of South Asian beaches of Alang, Chittagong (Bangladesh) and Gadani (Pakistan).

Environmental health groups are opposed to Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) including one with the European Union (EU) and Japan that allows status quo to continue with regard to hazardous waste trade. Government of India is highly secretive about the agreements with Japanese government and EU. These groups have been campaigning against the India-Japan FTA and India-EU FTA that entails such free trade. The Round Table welcomed the order of Bangladesh’s High Court Division dated 11 May, 2010 requiring pre-cleaning/decontamination of vessels imported into Bangladesh for breaking purposes. The earlier orders and the order of 11 May, 2010 in specific required that all vessels to be imported for breaking must be decontaminated at source and outside the territory of Bangladesh. Following the Court’s order the Import Policy Order was amended to ensure that the pre-cleaning certificates are produced by the authorized agents of the exporting state. This amendment was changed on request from the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) that purported to allow ships to enter Bangladesh with in-built, poisonous and cancerous substances for the safe disposal of which Bangladesh does not have minimum facilities. With blessings from the MoEF, the ship breakers continued to import dirty ships that eventually had to stop by virtue of the order of 11 May, 2010. In India, in the last session of Parliament, Jairam Ramesh informed that he has written to the Ministries of Commerce and Finance seeking their assistance in regulating the hazardous waste trade but so far there has been no progress and hazardous waste trade continues to be promoted by the Commerce Ministry, which is quite disturbing.

It is noteworthy that Japan launched a new waste initiative and venue at the G8 summit in 2004. The aim of this initiative is contrary to the prime objectives of the Basel Convention that sought minimization of transboundary movement of hazardous waste, Japan’s 3R Initiative calls for lifting of trade barriers for waste and for the free movement of recyclable materials, including toxic wastes, within a regional context. Using its financial muscle it has dictated the agenda of the 3R Initiative to promote regional waste trade schemes. Its interest in hazardous waste treatment facilities and ship-breaking yards at Alang Beach is illustrative of the same.
Japan is on a prowl to kill the Basel Convention through its Economic Partnership Agreements. In 2008, it signed ASEAN-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement to promote waste trade hold in the region. ASEAN is 13 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The same is being replicated in India. At the last Conference of Parties to UN’s Basel Convention on Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes, Japan proactive role to stop the crucial Ban Amendment, 1995 from coming into force was intriguing. With the unfolding of Japan’s FTAs with other Asian countries, it is clear that it wants to re-define toxic waste as non-waste. It’s a case of linguistic corruption. A similar Partnership Agreements has been challenged in the Supreme Court of Philippines.

It has reliably been learnt that the Commerce Ministry will seek the Cabinet's approval soon for the India-Japan free trade agreement (FTA) likely to be signed during the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's forthcoming visit to Tokyo in October although its anti-environment. Japan-India FTA and India-EU FTA will makes it difficult for India to impose a trade ban on toxic wastes which is an expressed right enjoyed by any sovereign state and is acknowledged by the Basel Convention. India must ratify Basel Ban Amendment instead of making itself vulnerable to toxic waste imports.
The participants of the Round Table included trade unions, environmental groups, lawyers, researchers and media persons.

For Details: Gopal Krishna, ToxicsWatch Alliance, Mb: 9818089660,
E-mail:krishna2777@gmail.com, Blog: imowatch.blogspot.com,
Web: www.toxicswatch.com

P K Ganguly, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), Mb: 9968214082

H Mahadevan, All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Mb: 9818120885

Ashim Roy/ Rakhi Sehgal, New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI), Mb: 9911599955

Manicandan, International Metal Worker’s Federation, Mb: 9868319261

Grazia Cioci, Platform on Shipbreaking, Mb: +32 (0)495 832441

Note: IMO treaty will enter into force 24 months after the date on which 15 States, representing 40 per cent of world merchant shipping by gross tonnage, have either signed it without reservation as to ratification, acceptance or approval, or have deposited instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession with the IMO’s Secretary-General. The combined maximum annual ship recycling volume of those States during the preceding 10 years must constitute not less than 3 per cent of their combined merchant shipping tonnage. It’s an industry sponsored treaty.

19/09/2010

Central Team Visits Bhavnagar & Alang

A Round Table on “Ship Owners Liability for Enviro-occupational Exposures on Alang Beach & Global Shipping Industry” discussed the visit of the Supreme Court constituted Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Ship breaking to Bhavnagar and Alang on 17th September among other things. The visit was facilitated by Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB). The apex court had asked for the inclusion of labour and environmental groups in the IMC but the same has not been done till date.

The IMC team led Bhavnagar/Alang by S. Machendranathan, Additional Secretary & Financial Adviser and Dr Dalip Singh, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Steel comprised of officials from other ministries as well. (in Picture)

The Round Table took stock of the developments at the international and national levels besides the acts of omission and commission of ship owners, ship-breakers and the government agencies. The participants included trade unions, environmental groups, lawyers, researchers and media persons.

13/09/2010

Ship Owners Liability for Enviro-occupational Exposures on Alang Beach & Global Shipping Industry

A Round Table on “Ship Owners Liability for Enviro-occupational Exposures on Alang Beach & Global Shipping Industry” is planned in New Delhi on 15th September.

The Round Table will discuss the developments at the international and national levels besides the acts of omission and commission of ship owners, ship-breakers and the state government. The participants include trade unions, environmental groups, lawyers, researchers and media persons.

Headquartered in London UN’s International Maritime Organisation (IMO)’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) has been working at the behest of the ship owners from developed countries. In order top protect the interest of the ship owners, now it has misled the ship recycling counties to adopt an International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships. It will enter into force 24 months after the date on which 15 States, representing 40 per cent of world merchant shipping by gross tonnage, have either signed it without reservation as to ratification, acceptance or approval, or have deposited instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession with the IMO’s Secretary-General. The combined maximum annual ship recycling volume of those States during the preceding 10 years must constitute not less than 3 per cent of their combined merchant shipping tonnage. So far the Convention has been signed, subject to ratification or acceptance, by France, Italy, the Netherlands, Saint Kitts and Nevis and Turkey. Turkey, one of the five major ship recycling nations in the world, has signed this regressive treaty.

At the national level, in pursuance of the Supreme Court order in the matter of Hazardous Wastes/Ship breaking and at the request of Ministry of Environment and Forest, Ministry of Steel had set up an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Ship breaking under the Chairmanship of Additional Secretary with members of Ministry of Shipping, Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF), Ministry of Labour, Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB), Central Pollution Control Board, Indian Steel Scrap and Ship breakers Association of India (ISSSAI) etc. for the implementation of Supreme Court Orders and other related functions. The apex court had asked for the inclusion of labour and environmental groups in the committee but the same has not been done till date.

At the last IMC meeting issues such as Radiological study of works, Issue of gas free for hot work and other services under the Petroleum Rules, Security Concerns, Safety of workers, Spillage of Chemicals on Gujarat Shore, completion of trust hospital etc were discussed. For a better understanding of the various issues under consideration of the IMC, chairperson had expressed his desire to lead an Inter-Ministerial delegation to Alang. The IMC team led Bhavnagar/Alang by S. Machendranathan, Additional Secretary & Financial Adviser and Dr Dalip Singh, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Steel is due to visit Bhavnagar/Alang. There will be officials from other ministries as well. The Round Table will take stock of their proposed visit as well.

03/09/2010

Shipping Ministry & Goa's Oil Spill


Goa's popular beaches turned black on 30 August evening due to oil spill off the coast of Panaji. Beaches like Calangute, Siquerim, Candolim in north Goa and Colva, Betalbhatim and Sernabhatim in the south were covered with black tar balls. South Goa beaches are covered with black oil which has been washed ashore.

Union Shipping Ministry's incompetence has been revealed consistently. Most recently, collision of two merchant ships off the Mumbai coast on August 7 had caused a massive oil spill.

Goa government is downplaying the tar ball menace. Union Minister of Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh and the Shipping Minister has been asked to probe the matter.
of the oil spill. The oily trail across several beaches like Calangute, Candolim, Colva and Velsao and raised concerns about the success of the forthcoming tourist season.

The ships that pass along the coastline are the culprits. They discharge their waste which either surfaces before being deposited on the seabed or the waste gets erupted in monsoon.

One of the common causes for the tar ball phenomenon is careless dumping of used oil by a passing ship.

01/09/2010

Major ship breakers boycott IMO treaty

Major ship dismantlers such as India, Bangladesh and China are conspicuous by their absence

International Maritime Organization(IMO)'s Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships 2009 has now recognised for its anti-environment, anti-labour and anti-communities stance.

Ships from ship owning countries from US and Europe have connived at their movement away from their shores in tandem with the complicity of IMO and lethargy of UN's Basel Convention despite the fact that ships US ship Platinum ll (SS Oceanic, SS Independence), French ship Blue Lady (SS Norway, SS France) and Danish ship RIKY using corporate veils and gullible and corrupt officials of developing countries.

So far the Convention has been signed, subject to ratification or acceptance by France, Italy, the Netherlands, Saint Kitts and Nevis and now Turkey. The combined maximum annual ship recycling volume of those States must during the preceding 10 years, constitute not less than 3% of their combined merchant shipping tonnage.

The Hong Kong Convention, adopted at a diplomatic conference in May 2009 is aimed at ensuring that ships, when being recycled after reaching the end of their operational lives; do not pose any unnecessary risk to human health and safety or to the environment.

This convention is designed to ensure that not only are the conditions under which ship dismantlers work safe and environmentally acceptable but that all major issues surrounding ship recycling, including the fact that ships sold for scrapping may contain environmentally hazardous substances such as asbestos, heavy metals, hydrocarbons, ozone depleting chemicals are suitably addressed.

The text of the ship recycling Convention was developed over 3 year period with input from IMO Member States and relevant non governmental organizations and in cooperation with the International Labour Organization and the Parties to the Basel Convention and includes regulations covering the design, construction, operation and preparation of ships so as to facilitate safe and environmentally sound recycling without compromising the safety and operational efficiency of ships the operation of ship recycling facilities in a safe and environmentally sound manner and the establishment of an appropriate enforcement mechanism for ship recycling, incorporating certification and reporting requirements.

The Convention has been open for signature by any State from September 1st 2009 and remained so until August 31st 2010. Thereafter, it shall be open for accession by any State.

It will enter into force 24 months after the date on which 15 States representing 40% of world merchant shipping by gross tonnage have either signed it without reservation as to ratification, acceptance or approval or lodged such agreements with the IMO Secretary‑General.

11/08/2010

Shipping Ministry Dismal Performance is consistent

Press Release

Fragile Marine Environment in Indian Waters Facing Unprecedented Threat

Mumbai oil spill & chlorine gas leak underlines it


New Delhi/11/8/2010: Absence of a National Shipping Policy to ensure environmental security of Indian waters from ships of all ilk in the face of all too frequent accidents along with oil and chemical spills has become quite stark. Be it in the marine oil and hazardous and noxious substance (HNS) incidents like chlorine gas** leak, dumping of hazardous materials, war materials, end-of life ships or lack of radioactive radiation scanners or the transfer of harmful invasive species and pathogens via ships' ballast water unmindful of Marine Biosafety or the most recent case of collision between two ships which are registered in tax haven countries, it is noteworthy how the global shipping companies can mutilate rule of law in the Indian waters with connivance and indulgence from Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of UN’s International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

Intriguing silence of likes of G K Vasan, Minister of Shipping and Lakshmi Venkatachalam, Director General of Shipping & ex. officio Additional Secretary to the Govt. of India regarding the incident of the morning of 7th August 2010, container vessel MSC Chitra collision with another Merchant vessel Khailijia 3 near the Mumbai Port Trust merits attention. It is just doing a routine enquiry into the causes of the accident has been ordered. The oil slick has spread over an area of nearly five kilometres around the ship. The MSC Chitra was loaded with more than 2400 containers, 2600 tonnes of oil and 300 tonnes of diesel fuel, and a large number of these loaded containers had already sunk into nearby waters. Some of these containers were reported to include toxic materials such as sodium peroxide. A rather thick oil slick was surrounding the vessel. This ship had sailed to Mumbai from Dubai, and was outbound from Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) port facility when the collision occurred. The Khalija-3 was apparently towed into port after the incident. Admittedly, later as the listing of the ship (a ship that is leaning on one side or the other) increased, about 250 containers have fallen into the sea.

Survey of the main channel was got carried out by Indian Navy in the early morning of 8th August,.2010. On 9th August, 2010, the Navy started undertaking survey of some containers that have hit the bottom. To facilitate this, all ship movements have been stopped. The vessel has 2662 tons of heavy oil in its various tanks and 245 tons of diesel oil for its own use. Presently, there is an oil spill around the vessel. The Coast Guard and three JNPT tugs are spraying dispersants under the directions of Coast Guard. Some oil has reached ashore in Raigad District of Maharashtra.

While punitive and remedial action is required to prevent such incidents in future, it has been noted that concerned officials have filed maritime charges against the two captains of the vessels. Sources within the industry have expressed consternation at such misplaced charges because it is the pilot/captain of the port and not the captain of ship which is responsible in such matters.

In the present case as a result of the collision the hatch No.2 of MSC Chitra got damaged leading to ingress of water, as a result of which MSC Chitra started listing. Due to the impact of collision, three containers on deck dropped into the sea and about 200 liters of hydraulic oil leaked out.

Even though bow of Khailijia 3 was damaged, this vessel was safely docked at Ballard Pier (BPX) berth of the Mumbai Port Trust. The Mumbai Port Trust contacted the vessel agent and the insurer. The owner and the insurers P&I club, appointed M/s. Smit Salvage, Singapore for assessment and salvaging of the vessel. M/s. Smit secured the compartments and also dropped anchor, securing the vessel from drifting.

Earlier on 14 July 2010, one of the cylinders with liquid chlorine gas, stored at Haji Bunder area, which has been notified by Mumbai Port Trust for handling and storage of hazardous export/import goods developed a leak and chlorine gas dissipated into the atmosphere. “In all 118 persons were affected by the incident and were admitted to
various hospitals.” The Shipping Minister informed the Lok Sabha on 9th August that “no financial assistance has been provided to the affected persons.” Why isn’t there any law to ensure compensation these people for enviro-occupational exposure?

As in the case of the collision of ships, an enquiry was ordered into the causes of the incident, identify lapses and those responsible as well as to suggest remedial measures to ensure that an incident of this type does not recur. It was said that reasons of the leakage would be known after detailed enquiry. Several months have passed but has the Ministry of Shipping bothered to disclose the reasons?

There were strict directions issued to all the Major Ports to dispose off all the hazardous/inflammable cargo lying in port area since long time under section 61 & 62 of Major Port Trust Act, 1963. Has this order been complied with? As of 9th August, 2010, ports like Kolkata Dock System, JNPT, Tuticorin, New Mangalore, Mumbai, Kandla, Chennai hazardous substances like Sodium Aluminate Solution, Brass Ash (Waste Scrap), Metal Scrap slag & Ash of Nickel, Slag & Ash of Chrome, Slag & Ash of Nickel, Low Grade Nickel, Hydroxide & PCB Scrap, Old and used NI/CD, Battery, Waste oil, Methyl Monomer and War materials like empty shells cartages etc.

Notably, efforts have been made to destroy the material with the help of Police/Army /Bomb disposal squad. But no agency is coming forward to destroy the material.

With regard to Mumbai, the Shipping Minister gave vague information to the Lok Sabha saying “Different type of dangerous and Hazardous goods” are lying at Mumbai port from different
dates starting from March 1983 including empty chlorine cylinders. He did not name and specify these dangerous and hazardous goods.

As to “Methyl Monomer” lying at New Mangalore port, it has been stated that its there because of “Inadequate storage space in the factory premises of M/s BASF, Mangalore”, the importer. BASF is the world's largest producer of acrylic monomer. BASF is the largest chemical company in the world and is headquartered in Germany. BASF originally stood for Badische Anilin- und Soda-Fabrik (Baden Aniline and Soda Factory). It has close to 385 production sites worldwide. Its subsidiary, BASF India Limited is headquartered in Mumbai, with manufacturing facilities in Thane, Mangalore. BASF India Limited manufactures and markets expandable polystyrene, tanning agents, leather chemicals and auxiliaries including specialised metal complex dyes, leather dyes, textile chemicals, dispersions and speciality chemicals, acrylic polymers in primary forms and crop protection chemicals. BASF India Limited is also involved in the trading of chemicals including dyestuffs and related textile auxiliaries, and renders technical services to various industries. Is it convincing that such a company has “Inadequate storage space in the factory premises”?. This merits investigation by a high powered government agency.

A High level committee was also constituted to examine the cylinders/packages and advise on the measures to be taken/ methodology to be followed for neutralization of chemicals/gases and ultimate disposal of all the uncleared hazardous cargo lying in the Port. The report is still awaited.

Despite the opposition of human rights, labour and environmental organizations which got endorsed by ship breaking industry of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, Indian delegation was misled by the Ministry of Shipping into becoming a party to the adoption of IMO’s new convention on ship recycling although its a major step backwards from existing international and national environmental law. Unmindful of the fact that the IMO treaty will not prevent a single toxic ship from being exported and dumped on the beaches of India, Shipping Ministry refused to change its course although existing international law makes it illegal to export toxic waste to developing countries, to disproportionately burden the poor with pollution.
The reply of the Minister of Shipping with regard to “Installation of Radiation Monitor Portals at All Ports”, in Rajya Sabha on July 27, 2010 revealed that the “Government proposes to install Radiation Monitoring Portals (RMP) in all the Major Ports by 2012. At present steel junk imported is visually examined by Customs Department which is empowered to check the import-export cargo. The Radiation Monitor Portals will help prevent smuggling in/out of radio active hazardous materials only.” Visual inspection of such hazardous materials is ridiculous. This and the incidents above illustrate the sorry state of affairs in the Ministry of Shipping that merits immediate and urgent intervention.

For Details: Gopal Krishna, ToxicsWatch Alliance, Mb: 9818089660, E-mail-krishna2777@gmail.com, imowatch.blogspot.com, Web: www.toxicswatch.com

**Chlorine gas becomes more toxic as the pH level of the water drops and it becomes even more toxic when it is combined with other toxic substances such as cyanides, phenols and ammonia.

At different concentrations effects of chlorine on fish and aquatic organisms is different. At 0.006 mg/L, it kills trout fry in two days, recommended maximum for all fish and aquatic lifeat is 0.01mg/L at which it kills Chinook Salmon and Coho Salmon, at 0.01-0.05 mg/L oysters have difficulty pumping water through their bodies, at 0.2 mg/L Maximum Brook and Brown Trout can withstand, at 0.05 mg/L Maximum
amount that can be tolerated by young Pacific Salmon in the ocean, 0.1 MG/L ills most marine plankton, at 0.25 mg/L, only the hardiest fish can survive, 0.37 mg/L maximum fish can tolerate and 1.0 mg/L ills oysters.

On humans, its over-exposures can cause the following health effects:
coughing, labored breathing, sore throat, and potentially fatal lung disorders (chemical pneumonitis and pulmonary edema). Repeated chlorine over-exposures by inhalation can result in emphysema and erosion of teeth. The symptoms associated with specific Chlorine concentrations manifest themselves differently. It causes
irritation of the eyes and mucous membranes and irritation of the throat. Prolonged exposure may result in death. In addition, high concentrations of this gas mixture can cause an oxygen-deficient environment, especially if released in a poorly-ventilated area.

Individuals breathing such an atmosphere may experience symptoms which include headaches, ringing in ears, dizziness, drowsiness, unconsciousness, nausea, vomiting, and depression of all the senses. Under such circumstances of over-exposure, death may occur.

10/08/2010

Update on Ship Collision near Mumbai Port

In the morning of 07.08.2010, container vessel MSC Chitra collided with another vessel Khailijia 3 near the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) area. As a result of this collision the hatch No.2 of MSC Chitra got damaged leading to ingress of water, as a result of which MSC Chitra started listing.

Due to the impact of collision, three containers on deck dropped into the sea and about 200 ltrs of hydraulic oil leaked out.

Immediately, through the Mumbai Port Vessel Traffic Management System (VTMS), two tugs were requisitioned and were rushed to render assistance. 24 crew members of MSC Chitra were evacuated by the crew of the tugs. The Master of the vessel and five crew members were brought on shore at Mumbai, while the two tugs continued to remain stand by.

Even though bow of Khailijia 3 was damaged, this vessel was safely docked at BPX berth of the MbPT. The Director General (Shipping) [DG (S)] and Coast Guard were informed of the incident and relevant notices to mariners and warnings on VHF channel were promulgated to all concerned.

The MbPT contacted the vessel agent and the insurer. The owner and the insurers P&I club, appointed M/s. Smit Salvage, Singapore for assessment and salvaging of the vessel. M/s. Smit secured the compartments and also dropped anchor, securing the vessel from drifting.

Later as the listing of the ship increased, about 250 containers have fallen into the sea.

Survey of the main channel was got carried out by Indian Navy in the early morning of 08.08.2010. The channel was found clear at that time. Limited ship movements were carried during the day. On 09.08.2010, the Navy is undertaking survey of some containers that have hit the bottom. To facilitate this, all ship movements have been stopped.

The floating containers are being cleared with the help of tugs and floating cranes. They will be stored on the JNPT side of the channel. The Mumbai Port Harbour is likely to be cleared of floating containers in next two-three days.

Once the vessel stabilizes and is certified safe to board, the salvagers will board the vessel and remove the fuel from the various tanks into the barges to eliminate threat of pollution.

The vessel has 2662 tons of heavy oil in its various tanks and 245 tons of diesel oil for its own use. Presently, there is an oil spill around the vessel. The Coast Guard and three JNPT tugs are spraying dispersants under the directions of Coast Guard. Some oil has reached ashore in Raigad District.

The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board authorities have been alerted as also the agencies that draw water from Mumbai harbor. The State Disaster Management Authority is meeting today with the concerned agencies. All efforts are being taken by MbPT and JNPT in collaboration with salvagers, Coast Guard, Indian Navy and other authorities to ensure that the situation is normalized at the earliest. The situation is being closely monitored by the Ministry of Shipping.

An enquiry by the DG (Shipping) into the causes of the accident has been ordered and is underway.

The DG (S) has convened meeting of all agencies for monitoring the situation. MoS is also monitoring the situation on-line.

The CoS meeting of Cabinet Secretariat was held on 08.08.2010 and the situation was reviewed. It will meet again on the 10.08.2010.

Survey of the area carried out by the Navy this morning shows 10-12 containers in the channel. Hence shipping movement could not be resumed. Action is being taken to mark the submerged containers whereafter restricted shipping movements can be considered. Action is also being coordinated to tow the submerged as well as floating containers to the barge. Once the containers are removed from the channel, the area will be surveyed by the Chief Hydrographer and on his advice full shipping movements can be commenced.

The Coast Guard is co-ordinating action to contain the oil spill. Salvers will also be asked to assist in this work.

Fishing is not affected as there is general ban till 15th August 2010.

The Salvers will make an assessment tomorrow on the decision to ballast the vessel and turn it upright; otherwise action would have to be taken to debunker the ship by removing the oil into barges.

So far 17 vessels, 9 at JN Port and 8 at Mumbai Port have completed their operations on 8th and 9th August 2010 but could not be sailed out. 15 vessels were scheduled, 9 for JN Port and 6 for Mumbai Port, but could not be berthed.

http://pib.nic.in/release/release.asp?relid=64476

30/07/2010

Ministries hold meetings on affairs of Alang Beach

Sources have informed that K. Mohandas, Secretary, Union Ministry of Shipping and Rajeev Gupta, Joint Secretary, Union Ministry of Shipping and Ms. Jacinta. Jose, Deputy Secretary, Union Ministry of Shipping hosted an inter-ministerial meeting at Parivahan Bhawan,New Delhi on 21st July, 2010. It was attended by three representatives of the ship-breaking industry among others.

The meeting dwelt on pre-cleaning of end-of-life ships, responsibility of ship owners, prior consent of exporting country and IMO treaty among other things.

Dr Dalip singh, Joint Secretary, Union Ministry of Steel and Focal Point of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Shipbreaking was also present. Officials from Environment Ministry were also attended it as the ministry is the focal point for Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal. This UN treaty addresses cleaner production, hazardous waste minimization and controls on the movement of these wastes. India is a party to this treaty. Basel Convention Secretariat takes cognisance of the relevant national decisions with regard to ship dismantling. The Secretariat maintains a full-text collection of selected case law of national and regional courts on enviromentally sound management of ship dismantling. These are accessible here:http://www.basel.int/ships/relevcaselaw.html

Basel has Technical Guidelines for the Environmentally Sound Management of the Full and Partial Dismantling of Ships. These Technical Guidelines were adopted by the sixth Conference of the Parties in Decision VI/24. In that Decision, Parties and others were invited to use the Technical Guidelines and to report to the Seventh Meeting of the Conference of the Parties, through the Secretariat, on their experience and any difficulties or obstacles encountered in the application of the Guidelines, with a view to improving them as necessary and required.

Technical guidelines for the environmentally sound management of the full and partial dismantling of ships are available in Bengali, Hindi, Turkish and Urdu (Copyright, Part I, Part II)besides English.

The 21st July meeting was attended by A. Banerjee, Chief Surveyor-cum-Additional Director General. It was attended by Ms. Lakshmi Venkatachalam, Director General of Shipping as well.
DG Shipping is a Statutory Authority constituted under Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 whose major activities include ensuring safety of life and ships at sea and International Convention relating to maritime matters among other things.

There would be a preparatory meeting in Mumbai on 7th August to finalize India's position at the 60th Meeting of the IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC).

Sources have informed that Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC)on ship-breaking will hold its next meeting in Alang and Bhavnagar on 25th August, 2010. The general issue of control and management of hazardous waste has been under consideration in the Supreme Court in writ petition no. 657 of year 1995. The various State Governments/Central Ministries were affected in this case and Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) was the nodal Ministry.

During the course of deliberation, the Supreme Court issued the various orders, the first important order being on 14 th October, 2003. In pursuance of the Supreme Court order dated 14 th October, 2003, and at the request of Ministry of Environment and Forest, Ministry of Steel set up an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) vide order dated 12 -01-2004 followed by an addendum order dated 20-4-2004 under the Chairmanship of Additional Secretary and FA with members of Ministry of Shipping, Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF), Ministry of Labour, Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB), Central Pollution Control Board, Indian Steel Scrap and Ship breakers Association of India (ISSSAI), Mumbai Port Trust, Kolkata Port Trust etc. for the implementation of Supreme Court Orders and other related functions.

So far, IMC has held meetings on 5-2-2004*, 11-6-2004, 19-1-2005, 28-6-2005, 1-02-2006, 21-9-2006, 17-1-2007 & 9-8-2007*, 28-2-2008, 4-2-2009 and 5-10-2009; coopted members of other organizations; discussed various issues pertaining to ship breaking industries and issued a large number of directions in line with the Supreme Court Orders. There were meetings in 2010 as well but its proceedings are known so far.

Denmark & China. Maersk wants to end 'beachings'

06 July 2010
A.P. Moller - Maersk has a policy on responsible ship recycling at least five years before international requirements on workplace safety and environment enter into force.

A large part of the world shipping industry still uses once pristine tidal beaches in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan as a junk yard.

Between 60% and 80% of the world’s out-of-service vessels are sailed on shore there and cut to bits and pieces by thousands of workers, often barefooted, and often with no safety protection whatsoever. Accidents, explosions and deaths are commonplace in what is the world’s most dangerous work place, according to the UN’s International Labour Organization, ILO.

The scene is different at the China Changjiang Ship Recycling Yard in Jiangyin near Shanghai.

The yard, used by Maersk, lives up to stringent international standards for safety and environment. Standards that are now also part of the Group policy approved by Maersk’s Executive Board in January.

To date Maersk has successfully recycled ships in China without a single injury.

“When we sell a ship to be recycled in a responsible way, we often get USD 1 million less than what we could have obtained otherwise. But that’s the cost of being a responsible corporate citizen,” says Soren Andersen, Head of Maersk Line Vessel Management.

Traditionally Maersk has sold its ships long before the end of their operating life, but up until the mid-1990s a few of the Group’s vessels were nevertheless scrapped when no better alternatives were available.

Still, Maersk decided early on to invest in responsible dismantling methods and became one of the first movers in the industry. By 2008 the executive arm of the European Union held up Maersk as a good example.

“European ship owners can be expected to act in a spirit of corporate social responsibility. Practical examples for this exist already today,” The European Commission wrote in a strategy paper. The word “examples” referred directly to Maersk.

Now, international requirements are approaching within an estimated five years, and Maersk is making a business out of responsibility. A special unit for ship recycling takes in outside clients as well.

“Recycling is a very dangerous business, but it doesn’t have to be more dangerous than building ships. It’s the same thing, only in reverse,” says Tom Peter Blankestijn, Director of Maersk Green Ship Recycling.

Green organisations are indeed lauding Maersk for being ahead of the rest of the industry.
“We applaud Maersk for showing leadership and taking a stance against the dangerous and polluting practice of breaking ships on tidal beaches,” says Ingvild Jenssen from the NGO Platform on Shipbreaking.

Maersk Green Ship Recycling
From 2000 to 2010, the A.P. Moller - Maersk Green Ship Recycling has recycled more than 50 ships. In 2009 the team has supervised 20 ship recyclings in China, of which 7 were from third parties.

The yard in Jiangyin is ISO 14001 and OHSMS 28001 certified.

Maersk Green Ship Recycling monitors on a daily basis to ensure the yard lives up to requirements.

http://www.bymnews.com/news/newsDetails.php?id=71488

Fire mishap leaves one dead at Alang shipyard

Fire mishap leaves one dead at Alang shipyard
July 24, 2010
RAJKOT: A fire accident at Alang ship breaking yard in Bhavnagar district left one worker dead and four others injured on Saturday, official sources said.

The accident occurred at about 11:30 am at Alang ship breaking yard's plot number 78 when some workers were cutting a scrap piece with gas cutter near a ship's engine room. Though the fire was brought under control shortly, but by then it had claimed the life of Shamshaulla Sheikh (27), who died on the spot. The injured are being treated at referral hospital in Alang and Civil Hospital in Bhavnagar. The condition of the one of the injured being treated at the Civil Hospital is reported to be serious, sources said.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/rajkot/Fire-mishap-leaves-one-dead-at-Alang-shipyard/articleshow/6211783.cms

Ship Recycling Safety in Pakistan Explored at UN Workshop
Submitted by editor on July 23, 2010

In an effort to improve the health, safety and environmental standards in the ship-
recycling industry in Pakistan, the United Nations Environment Programmes
Secretariat of the Basel Convention convened a three-day international workshop on Ship Recycling Technology and Knowledge Transfer in Izmir, Turkey.

The workshop, which was held in cooperation with the Government of Turkey and the Ship Recyclers Association of Turkey, ended today with progress being made on strengthening the understanding of the Conventions role in the international regulatory regime of ship recycling.

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal has been involved in the issue of ship recycling since the late 1990s. While the Convention applies to the recycling of end-of-life ships, it has been difficult to enforce over the years due to its provisions.

In May 2009, the International Maritime Organization ( IMO ) adopted the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships. The Convention, which has yet to come into force, places specific requirements on ships from their design and construction to their operation and recycling.

The South Asian region, namely India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, dominates the global ship-recycling industry, currently occupying 70 to 80 percent of the market, with China and Turkey occupying much of the remainder.

A delegation from Pakistan attending the UNEP workshop was comprised of representatives of both Government and industry. They sought to learn from the improvements made in the ship-recycling industry in Turkey and implement the practical, regulatory and institutional changes back home in Pakistan.

The workshop has been an opportunity to assist the Government of Pakistan and its industry to improve its regulatory, institutional and infrastructural capacity to fulfill the requirements of the Hong Kong Convention and the relevant requirements of the Basel Convention in relation to ship recycling, particularly those dealing with the downstream management of hazardous and other wastes.

We believe that this workshop does not only address needs of individual countries or regions, but will also contribute towards defining the respective scopes of the two international conventions and will in this way enable a better and clearer international regulatory regime, said Dr. Nikos Mikelis of the IMO.

Speaking of the initiative in Izmir, Ms. Katharina Kummer Peiry, Executive Secretary of the Basel Convention, remarked: There is a real willingness on the part of the Pakistani Government and industry to make improvements to this important industry and bring about enduing changes to the prevailing safety, health and environmental conditions in Gadani. We are thus grateful to the Government of Turkey and the Ship Recyclers Association of Turkey for extending a helping hand at this crucial time of need.

For More Information, Please Contact:

Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson/Head of Media, Nairobi, + 254-20-7623084; + 254-733-632755 ( m ); +41-79-596-5737 ( m2 ), e-mail: nick.nuttall@unep.org

Michael Stanley-Jones, Press Focal Point/Public Information Officer, Joint Services of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, + 41-22-917-8668; ( m ) + 41-79-730-4495,

e-mail: msjones@pic.int or SafePlanet@unep.org

Source: Media Newswire

Shipbreaking prices weaken, but still higher than year-ago

SteelGuru
21 Jul 2010

Despite declining in the last couple of months, prices paid for ships for scrapping remain about $100/tonne above where they were a year ago.

Russian ship engineer goes missing at Alang, search on
19 July, 2010

A Russian crew member of an LPG carrier beached at Alang Ship Breaking Yard in Bhavnagar district has gone missing. Now, even after 48 hours search by multiple agencies have proved futile.

LPG carrier Summerset, with a total of 19 crew, including four Indians, had beached on plot number 113 at the Alang Shipbreaking Yard around 9 pm on Saturday.

But by the time the vessel was beached, Russian crew member Yasil Yev was found missing.

The Bhavnagar police said: “Captain Keskov has registered a complaint with the Alang police station. Multiple agencies – the Local Crime Branch, Marine Police and Customs have launched an intense search.”

Bhavnagar police said shipping agent G M Bakshi Renu Gopal has said Yev is an electric engineer.

The police have ruled out foul play, but have said it is keeping all options open. There is the possibility of Yev having met with an accident too, the police said.

“For the same, we are undertaking an intense search of each and every part of the ship. On their part, the marine police are busy conducting a search between the shore and the vessel anchorage point,” said an officer.

Source: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/Russian-ship-engineer-goes-missing-at-Alang--search-on/649104

Worries grow over shipbreaking plan for Swan Hunter site

Jul 21 2010 by Adam Jupp, The Journal

(Dismantling work in progress of a Ghost Ship on Teesside)

CONCERNS have been raised that moves to bring shipbreaking work to the Tyne could hinder wider plans for a green industrial revolution along the river.

It has emerged North Tyneside Council is in talks over a contract that would see a decommissioned military vessel dismantled on the Swan Hunter site, in Wallsend.

Along with regional development agency One North East, the authority bought the yard for more than £9m in September.

Previous Ghost Ship stories

* Toxic ship court battle
* New twist in ships battle
* French carrier joins Ghost Ships in Hartlepool

The purchase was part of a larger strategy to turn the Tyne’s north bank into a world-leading centre of excellence in the offshore renewable energy sector.

A £500,000 study identified the future of Swans as a key component of that strategy and bosses as North Tyneside Council have previously signalled their intention to create a “learning village” on the site.

It is understood the council is talking to an environmental services firm currently bidding for the contract to dismantle the RFA Oakleaf, which was taken out of service by the Ministry of Defence last year.

If successful, the work would be done at Swans, creating around 40 jobs in the process, which North Tyneside mayor Linda Arkley says is something that “cannot be ignored.”

But critics have said the move hinders progress towards creating as many as 6,000 jobs through the green strategy.

North Tyneside Labour group leader Coun Jim Allan said: “This is not the kind of work we would have encouraged for Wallsend.

“We are interested in 6,000 jobs coming to the area in the renewable energy sector and we are concerned this will act as a deterrent to any new industry coming to the Tyne.

“We don’t want to be used as a scrap yard and I don’t think the people of Wallsend would want that.”

Around £50m of private and public money has been invested in turning the region into a hub for green energy.

Funding was given to American firm Clipper to locate in a new factory on the site of the former Neptune shipyard, on Walker Riverside, where they will make prototype turbine blades for giant wind farms set to be developed off the British coast.

Meanwhile, the New and Renewable Energy Centre (Narec) has secured a series of grants to test blades and full turbines at their site in Blyth.

Major players in the manufacturing of turbines – including Mitsubishi and Siemens – have signed agreements with the Government, stating their intention to bring their research and development and fabrication operations to the UK.

The North East is understood to be in competition with Humberside for the work and that has heightened fears that using Swan Hunter for dismantling a ghost ship could discourage investors from choosing the region.

Ms Arkley said: “We have very ambitious plans for the north bank of the Tyne.

“However, I believe it’s really important to consider any shorter term opportunities that could provide much-needed jobs for local people and a boost to the local economy.”

Any decision on the use of Swan Hunter must be agreed in writing by One North East.

A spokesman for the RDA said: “We are aware of potential interest in short-term uses for the site and will continue to discuss these with our partners at North Tyneside Council.”

Source:http://www.journallive.co.uk/north-east-news/todays-news/2010/07/21/worries-grow-over-shipbreaking-plan-61634-26894387/

Russian ship crew member goes missing
July 19, 2010

BHAVNAGAR: Officials of Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) and Alang police station have been put on alert ever since a Russian crew member of an international ship anchored at Alang ship breaking yard went missing on Saturday.

According to GMB and police officials, the crew member, identified as Vensiyevev Igwin, on board Summerset ship from Russia, was reported to have gone missing since Saturday night. "The ship was anchored at the yard on Saturday evening. At night, ship captain Keskoveserji had alerted GMB officials and police about one of his crew members having gone missing," said a GMB official.

The ship has the crew strength of 19. Igwin was serving as an electric engineer. Meanwhile, police have intensified the search for Igwin. When contacted, shipping agent JM Bakshi could not give a satisfactory answer. Police are also investigating whether the shipping agency had the idea about the missing crew and whether the information was deliberately concealed.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/rajkot/Russian-ship-crew-member-goes-missing/articleshow/6188739.cms

PSM wants law to ban rebars made from ship breaking plate cuttings

SteelGuru - 18 Jul 2010
Some unscrupulous builders are using poor quality mild rods in buildings and bridges, extracted from ship breaking scrap and this may cause fatal accidents.

Mr Imtiaz Lodhi the acting CEO of the Pakistan Steel Mill said that the company has asked the government to introduce a law banning the use of substandard mild rods in the country.

Mr Lodhi said that “There are no standards of construction here. Some unscrupulous builders are using poor quality mild rods in buildings and bridges, extracted from ship breaking scrap and this may cause fatal accidents. We want the parliament to pass a bill making use of quality bars obligatory.”

However, Mr Shamoon Baker chairman Karachi Iron and Steel Merchants’ Association said that there was no reason to believe that the mild rods produced from scrap was substandard. He said that “The strength of these rods gets restored after reprocessing and rerolling. Have you ever heard that gold has become scrap? It remains gold forever.”

Mr Baker said that the only raw material available in abundance is plates of broken ships and scrap.

The demand of mild rods in Pakistan is roughly 2.5 million tonnes per year and broken ships make up for a major chunk of this requirement which hovers around 70% or 1.7 million tonnes. There are more than 350 re rolling mills in the country while only two dozens mills were producing mild rods from billets.

(Sourced from the News.com)

GFMS weekly report on ship breaking industry for WEEK 27
14 July 2010

A busier week on the sales front saw a number of large LDT and high profile units committed to buyers in both Pakistan and India. Following on from the sale of the TMT controlled VLCC FRONT SABANG last week for USD 415/LT LDT to Pakistan, the local buyers there bagged another large wet unit with the Thai owned Aframax tanker SRIRACHA ENERGY achieving an extremely firm USD 420/LT LDT. This is the highest we have seen for a standard tanker since the markets tumbled by about USD 100/LT LDT recently, a sign perhaps that improvement is starting to hold.

India continued with its acquisition of a variety of units as the buying continued at pace even though sentiment for the week was down about USD 10 per tonne. With China struggling to achieve any continuity or firmness in its levels and Bangladesh still no nearer to resolving issues with the High Court, tine West Coast India - Pakistan range remains the focus for most sales and deliveries.

Meanwhile, tine Bangladesh saga continues and local recvclers remained eager but unable to acquire any tonnage. There were rumors that in the week ahead, a critical meeting is set for July 12, which would be significant in deciding the immediate future of the local recycling industry.

China levels stuttered again for the week having tumbled sharply over the past month and local buyers there have become hesitant to commit to vessels. As a result, with very few-recent sales, it is becoming increasingly hard to peg the reality on price. Failed deals and levels far from the competition in Pakistan and India have seen many vessels diverted away from the clutches of Chinese buyers recently.

Country Market Sentiment GEN CARGO TANKER
India Unstable USD375/ltldt USD405/ltldt
Pakistan Unstable USD360/ltldt USD410/ltldt
China Unstable USD335/ltldt USD360/ltldt
Bangladesh Unstable N/A N/A

(Sourced from GMS Weekly)

Emerging Environmental Requirements for Foreign Transfers of U.S.-Flag Vessels
14 Jul 2010, Blank Rome LLP
US Shipping Law
Summary

In general, the transfer of a U.S.-flag vessel to another registry and/or to a non-U.S. citizen owner requires the prior approval of the Maritime Administration (“MARAD”) under 46 U.S.C. § 56101 (which is the current codification of Section 9 of the Shipping Act, 1916, as amended). Specifically, subject to certain exceptions, Section 56101 prohibits the sale, lease, charter, delivery, or other transfer (and any agreement to do so) to a non-U.S. citizen of any interest in, or control of, a U.S.-flag vessel owned by a U.S. citizen and the transfer of a U.S.-flag vessel to a foreign flag. In addition, the prohibitions of Section 56101 apply to vessels whose last documentation was the U.S. flag.

The Convention also requires that each member state ensure that ship recycling facilities within its borders conduct ship scrapping in an environmentally ...

Source: http://ca.linexlegal.com/index.php?cid=905215