Ships for Scrap IV: Steel and Toxic Wastes for Asia – Greenpeace Report (June 2001)

Abstract

“Western companies are using Asia, including China, as a dumping ground for ships whose working lives have expired. Greenpeace decided to investigate the conditions at the Chinese shipbreaking yards. Greenpeace’s investigations covered four yards: two located on the Yangtze River and two on the Pearl River delta.
1. Chang Jiang Shipbreaking Yard,operated by the China National Shipbreaking Corporation in Jiang Yin,on the Yangtze river, China;
2. Zhangjiagang Yuanwang Iron & Steel Co. Ltd,Deji, on the Yangtze river, China;
3. Gujing Shipbreaking Company, Xinhui City. Guangdong Province (Joint venture by Xinhui City and China State Shipbreaking Company), on the Pearl river delta, China;
4. Shuangshui Shipbreaking Company, Xinhui City. Guangdong Province,on the Pearl river delta, China.

Greenpeace’s investigations focused on the environmental and working conditions at the shipbreaking yards, paying particular attention to the handling of hazardous substances. The study also involved sampling and analyses of sediments from the vicinity of the yards to indicate the extent of contamination due to shipbreaking activity. The objective of the study was to get an impression of working and environmental conditions on Chinese yards and a first indication on the levels of contamination caused by breaking ships.

The study finds that workers’ health and the environment at the Chinese yards are constantly put at risk by toxic substances from the ships and the unsafe working conditions on the premises. Generally, insufficient protection is provided for workers and no real measures are in place to prevent environmental contamination. Compared with OECD standards, the working and environmental conditions in Chinese yards are unacceptable.”