“The year 2012 witnessed an unprecedented peak in numbers of toxic ships sent for breaking on beaches in India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. At least 838 end-of-life vessels containing tens of thousands of tons of different hazardous wastes were broken down in substandard facilities in South Asia – that’s 70% of all ships dismantled last year. At least 365 of these ships belonged to European shipowners.
Mainly due to the fi nancial crisis, the overcapacity of ships all around the world is huge: scrapping is often more economical than keeping an idle ship. Shipowners, bankers, or fund managers make decisions quickly without due consideration of the impacts for workers, local communities, and the environment.
Despite the agreement of the international community that corporate entities also need to respect human rights when doing business, many shipowners still do not feel responsible for the clean and safe recycling of vessels from which they have economically benefited. Some reject criticism by saying that they have sold to a cash buyer who was then responsible for the ship; others bluntly deny any sale for demolition – even if there is clear evidence of the sale having taken place. The NGO Shipbreaking Platform and its members are convinced that the beneficial owner of a ship needs to be held responsible for environmentally sound and safe recycling and cannot disregard his responsibilities by selling a ship off to a middleman who transfers it to a scrap yard. (…)
Both regarding the reluctance of many shipowners to play a decisive role in the safe and clean recycling of their ships and the tendency of political decision-makers to fall behind established rules of international environmental law, the need for the NGO Shipbreaking Platform to continue to counterbalance such arguments is crucial.”