(Written by Gary Howard)
7 July 2014 - Shipbreaking in South Asia has claimed the lives of at least 10 workers in Q2 with many others injured, according to NGO Shipbreaking Platform.
The deaths, which are missing numbers from regular shipbreaker Pakistan, include five separate incidents in which a single worker died, as well as an explosion at Alang that killed five workers in June. So far in 2014, 17 workers have died dismantling ships in South Asia.
Of the 286 vessels broken worldwide, 174 ended up on South Asian beaches, with 104 going to India, 27 to Pakistan and 43 to Bangladesh. Of those ships, 53 were owned by European companies and 10 were flying EU flags as they reached the beach.
Slight progress was made on the regulatory front as France became the third nation to ratify the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships (Hong Kong Convention). Belgium also voiced its support for the rapid entry into force of the recycling regulations as it dealt with the three-week detention of a car carrier, Global Spirit, which was due to be exported for scrapping in India while in violation of EU regulations.
The frequently-circumvented EU Waste Shipment Regulations are in place to prevent richer countries exporting their toxic waste to impoverished countries where the facilities to properly dispose of hazardous materials do not exist. The regulations are avoided by owners not declaring their intention to scrap the ship when leaving for the beaches.
The current state of recycling regulation hasits critics, with organisations such as NGO Shipbreaking Platform suggesting that among other measures, economic incentives are needed to promote susatainable recycling of vessels.