GreenPort Magazine – South Asia to stop toxic import

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8 October 2013 – The NGO Shipbreaking Platform is calling on India, Pakistan and Bangladesh to stop the import of the damaged and presumably toxic vessel, ‘Hansa Brandenburg’.

It is thought that the owner, Germany’s Leonhardt and Blumberg Group, has sold the vessel for breaking in South Asia – most likely to India.

The container ship caught fire in July and was later towed to Port Louis in Mauritius. Mauritian authorities dealing with hazardous waste confirmed to the NGO that the vessel is still in Port Louis, but said it could soon leave as the country refused to handle the burnt containers and cargo, which are thought to contain a significant amount of hazardous materials.

“If the Hansa Brandenburg is sent to India, this would be another typical case of bad practice where a wealthy shipping company rids itself of its environmental and social responsibility by dumping waste in a substandard yard in South Asia – just because it is more profitable,” said Patrizia Heidegger, executive director NGO Shipbreaking Platform.

“We are not the dumping ground for the toxic vessels of the ship-owning countries. The Indian authorities must halt the import of the Hansa Brandenburg and make sure our workers and our environment are not exposed to toxic substances which cannot be treated adequately,” added Ritwick Dutta, environmental lawyer, Indian NGO Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE).

With around 4,000 merchant ships, Germany owns the world’s largest commercial shipping fleet. NGO says it is also one of the worst dumpers of toxic ships with 58 German-owned vessels beached in South Asia in 2012, and another 34 already sent between January and June 2013.