There were a total of 227 ships broken in the third quarter of 2017. This brings the total for the first three quarters of 2017 to 617. More than half of these vessels ended up on the beaches of South East Asia for dirty and dangerous demolition.
Since the beginning of the year 2017, 6 workers have died at the Chittagong shipbreaking site and 2 have lost their lives at Alang. In 2016 19 workers were killed at shipbreaking sites worldwide. These workers are earning approximately 30 pence per hour for this dangerous employment.
In fairness to Bangladesh, since 2011 they have adpoted specific rules on shipbreaking and recycling which includes specifications with regard beaching clearance, waste management and also safe working conditions in the shipbreaking sites. Before that around 50 fatalities a year were recorded in the Bangladesh yards.
At present the prices offered for ships are high in South Asia. Monsoon rains caused a shortage of local product being available to the domestic steel mills and have, therefore, driven prices for end-of-life ships up. Whilst a South Asian beaching yard can pay about $400/LDT, Turkish yards are currently paying slightly less than the $250/LDT offered by Chinese yards. This obviously encourages shipowners to send their vessels to South East Asia for recycling.
A high percentage of these ships end up at the Indian shipbreakers at Alang where standards for workers are far worse than for those in Bangladesh.
Efforts to counter the shipping industry’s crave for cash at the detriment of workers and the environment in South Asia are being brought to the attention of enforcement authorities and Courts. In Bangladesh, the Platform has been successful in taking legal action to halt the breaking of the FPSO North Sea Producer, which was illegally exported from the UK in 2016. Moreover, German authorities have been asked by the Platform to hold ACL, a subsidiary of Italian Grimaldi Group, liable for the illegal export of two ships, the Cartier and the Conveyor, to India.
Internatuonal pressure needs to be brought to ensure that ship recycling is safe and more rewarding for the workers.