17 September 2011- Ship-breaking is an industry that has enhanced our economic resources and also employment opportunities. But we have been observing that on many occasions foreign ships prohibited for plying for commercial purposes due to toxic cargo, are sent to Bangladesh for ship-breaking .
The latest such incident is that of a highly toxic Chinese ship, detected with at least 79 deficiencies since 2010, at different foreign ports, is now on its way to a ship breaking yard in Chittagong for dismantling.
The Asia Union, formerly MV Humber and also MV Cast Otter is due to enter the Bangladesh marine boundary by 17th September.
The Chinese ship is reportedly carrying hazardous substances including asbestos and other toxic paints and chemical residues having a wide range of effects on humans, flora and fauna, and the environment. The workers dismantling the ship suffer from exposure to poisonous substances.
The concerned authorities and NGOs have gone into action to prevent the ship from entering Bangladesh waters. The Department of Environment and Bangladesh Environment Lawyers’ Association have alerted the port authorities and coast guards about the hazardous ship asking them not to allow the ship to enter the port for dismantling.
The sale of the ship was brokered by a US company which undertakes such deals and sold it to RS Shipping, a Chittagong-based company.
A Paris-based environmental watchdog organization has reported that this 29-year old ship was in a very bad state, but was never detained by various Port State Controls despite detection of hazardous substances on board.
In this case corruption reigned supreme in purchasing of the vessel though false documents and we hear that 300 ships would be purchased very shortly by Bangladesh which has now become a leading ship-breaking country. It has become a dumping ground for old ships and vessels with hazardous substances.
The issue of ship-breaking is sensitive, and with import of such vessels this has now become a dangerous one. The government has to strictly monitor the purchase and entry of ships into Bangladesh for ship-breaking to save us from environmental poisoning.