Waste Management World – Database Logs Ships Beached at Substandard Recycling Yards in Asia

(Written by Ben Messenger)

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17 June 2013 - Over 1000 shipping companies which sent end-of-life vessels for recycling at breaking yards on the beaches of South Asia have been listed on a new data-driven website developed by the NGO, Shipbreaking Platform.

The organisation said that the site lists all of the ships that have been sent to such facilities in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan since 2009.

According to the NGO it is well documented that shipbreaking on the South Asian beaches causes labour rights violations and severe environmental degradation.

The www.offthebeach.org website is the backbone of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform’s OFF THE BEACH! campaign, which it said aims to raise awareness on harmful shipbreaking practices and to promote clean and safe ship recycling.

Shipbreaking Platform said that the campaign is not only targeted at ship owners, but also at consumers and cargo owners to enabling them to choose responsible operators to carry their goods around the world.

The database documents more than 2600 ships that were scrapped in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan since 15 May 2009, the date when the International Maritime Organization’s Hong Kong Convention was adopted by the international community.

Hong Kong Convention not working

“It is obvious that the Hong Kong Convention does nothing to prevent the dangerous beaching practices widely used today, nor does it have the aim to prevent such practices in the future,” Shipbreaking Platform said in a statement.

“In fact, more ships have been beached annually since Hong Kong was adopted,” the organisation added.

The OFF THE BEACH! database includes information on the shipping companies that the NGO claimed have sold these vessels to substandard shipbreaking facilities, including an overview of their operational fleet (more than 14,000 ships).

However, the NGO also noted that some of the shipping companies listed for having sent ships to substandard facilities since 2009 have meanwhile changed their recycling policies.

“Despite the rhetoric to the contrary, the vast majority of shipping companies continue to dump their old toxic ships on the beaches and labourers in South Asia, a practice which would, for instance, never be allowed in Europe, the U.S., Japan or China where most ship owners are based,” commented Patrizia Heidegger, executive director of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform.

EU Legislation in doubt

According to a recent report by the Wall Street Journal, European effort to outlaw the use of substandard facilities in South Asia has run into trouble. (See WMW Story)

While the European Parliament has approved measures that would ban the beaching of vessels and fine EU ship owners for violations, under pressure from South Asia, the European Council has opposed the ban on beaching.

The report noted that approval by the council, which includes the heads of EU member states, is necessary to ratify the legislation, and that politicians from the European Parliament lawmakers and the council are due to meet to discuss the situation.