Ships for Scrap III: Steel and Toxic Wastes for Asia – Greenpeace (2001)

Abstract

“In June 2000, Greenpeace took up on an official invitation by the Gujarat Maritime Board – the Government agency entrusted with regulating the Alang shipbreaking yards – to enter and take environmental samples from the yards in Alang, Gujarat. At the same time, Greenpeace also entered and took samples from the Mumbai (Bombay) shipbreaking yards with the permission of the Bombay Port Trust. The results of the analyses reconfirm the findings of Greenpeace’s October 1998 investigation of these yards. If anything, two years of inaction is likely to have heightened the extent of toxic contamination at the shipbreaking yards resulting in increased health risks to workers and communities exposed to the poisons released into the environment from the yards.”

“The Greenpeace investigation confirmed that shipyard workers are exposed to a deadly cocktail of toxic substances released during the course of shipbreaking. Heavy metals, asbestos, dangerous levels of organotins, and cancer-causing poly aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), contaminate the workplace. The levels of some of the pollutants such as organotins and PAHs in the soil and sediment in and around the yards are high enough to warrant the classification of these soils and sediment as hazardous wastes. Many of the poisons found will end up in the bodies of the workers and remain available in the local environment for long periods of time. Asbestos, the primary pollutant of concern, was found even in the living quarters of the workers. Given the casual manner in which large quantities of asbestos are stripped from the ships, and the proximity of the workers quarters to the shipbreaking yards, it is highly likely that the asbestos in the quarters are carried by air-borne dust and/or by the workers on their clothes.”