Kontakt oss

Telefon: 22 03 31 50
E-post: post@framtiden.no
Mariboes gate 8

Støtt arbeidet vårt

Liker du arbeidet Framtiden i våre hender gjør? Med din støtte kan vi gjøre enda mer.
Bli medlem nå!

Ja til miljørabatt!

Kutt moms på reparasjon og utleie av klær, utstyr og elektronikk!
Les mer

Vi jobber for en rettferdig verden i økologisk balanse

×

Advarsel

JUser: :_load: Kan ikke laste bruker med id: 2212

Our glory and power

Asia has become the world's waste dump for discarded ships. 70-90% of all demolition of ships takes place in India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. The reason is cheap labour and lack of enforcement of environmental regulations, if they exist at all.

NW has come across a list which proves that 11 ships from acknowledged Norwegian shipping companies have been sold to Asian ship-breakers. According to the shipping companies, none of the ships were cleaned up before they were sent away.

Norwegian authorities think that the ships cannot be considered as waste as long as the ships are still running and have the necessary certificates, even though they are about to be sent to Asia to be demolished. Denmark has a different view, and has put a state-owned ferry company under investigation for having sold two boats to Indian ship-breakers.

Artikkelen er mer enn to år gammel. Ting kan ha endret seg.

Asia has become the world's waste dump for discarded ships. 70-90% of all demolition of ships takes place in India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. The reason is cheap labour and lack of enforcement of environmental regulations, if they exist at all.

NW has come across a list which proves that 11 ships from acknowledged Norwegian shipping companies have been sold to Asian ship-breakers. According to the shipping companies, none of the ships were cleaned up before they were sent away.

Norwegian authorities think that the ships cannot be considered as waste as long as the ships are still running and have the necessary certificates, even though they are about to be sent to Asia to be demolished. Denmark has a different view, and has put a state-owned ferry company under investigation for having sold two boats to Indian ship-breakers.


By Øsgeir Johansen,
Norwatch

The demolition of ships not only threatens the environment in the countries in question, but also the workers. In Alang in India, which alone represents 60% of the demolition of ships in the world, some reports estimate that between one and two workers die every week. Many of these accidents could have been avoided if most of the poisonous substances had been cleaned out of the ships before they were sent away.

The list, which NW now makes public, shows the Norwegian export of ships to Asian countries in the period 1997 to 1998. The following Norwegian shipping companies are represented on the list: Solstad shipping, Bergesen D.Y. ASA, Wilh. Wilhelmsen, Bulls Tankrederi, Sejersted-Bödtker, Knutsen Shipping, K.G. Jebsen, and United European Car Carriers. The ships were not cleaned up before they were sent to India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, China, and Turkey.

For a country which has signed the Basel convention, and which is a member of the OECD, it is illegal to export environmentally hazardous waste to both India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and China.

Illegal export?
According to the Basel convention, which Norway has signed, and according to the regulations of the OECD, there are many indications that this export is illegal.

The objective of the Basel convention is to regulate international transport and disposal of hazardous waste. The convention says that "the parties of the convention shall take appropriate measures to prevent export of hazardous waste and other waste to a country, or a group of countries,  which belongs to an economically and politically integrated organisation, especially developing countries, which in its legislation has prohibited all import, or if the party has reason to believe that the waste in question will not be handled in an environmentally secure way[...]."

The convention also states that "each individual party shall demand that hazardous and other waste which is to be exported, must be handled in an environmentally safe way in the importing country and elsewhere."

The breaking-up of ships is criticized all over Asia, and on several occasions it has been demonstrated that the industry does not handle its waste in an environmentally secure way. A report from the Indian Coastal Development Planning Centre and the Dutch Centre for International Co-operation and Appropriate Technology on the conditions in Alang, states that the coastal environment is not taken into consideration, and that it is polluted by waste oil and other chemicals, and by remainders of steel from the demolished ships.

Nonsense
The reaction of the representatives of the shipping companies with whom NorWatch has spoken, was disbelief. Some of them characterized NorWatch's questions as nonsense. Some of the reactions were quite strong:

- Well, well, go on with your rubbish, said Johannes Solstad from Solstad Shipping as he hung up.

All those we have spoken with agreed that no shipping companies cleaned up their ships before they were delivered to be broken up, and many pointed out that the ships could not sail to Asia with empty tanks. The shipping companies do not take responsibility for cleaning up the ships before they are broken up, and some of them thought it was India's responsibility to enforce their own regulations.

Other arguments were that sales of ships could not be classified as export, while others, again, maintained that condemned ships could not be defined as waste.

One of the employees of the shipping companies with whom NorWatch has had contact, said that we were dreamers and asked us to put our ears to the ground and be practical.

- If these ships are not broken up, what are we to do with them? Sink them?, he says.

"Ships of death"
The ships which arrive at Asia's scrapping sites often contain large amounts of poisonous substances, and not only remainders of freight, but also substances which are part of the ship's structure. These include asbestos, which was not prohibited in ship construction until in the 1980s. Other dangers which threat the workers in the ship-breaking industry, are PCB (Polychlorinated biphenyl), lead, and toxic chemicals. That the environment around these sites is also threatened by pollution has been stated in several independent reports.

The Basel convention's definitions of waste do not mention discarded ships. However, this does not imply that ships are not covered by the definitions. Both according to the basic regulations of the Basel convention, and to the OECD, ships which are to be demolished can be classified as waste because of the chemical composites and quantity of chemicals which they contain. In addition to this comes the metal, which, indeed, is recycled. According to Greenpeace International and Basel Action Network, discarded ships are covered by the regulations of the Basel convention, and its definitions of waste.

Jim Puckett in the American organisation Basel Action Network (BAN), says:

- How can a ship on its way to being demolished, filled with asbestos, PCB, waste oil and so on, be considered as anything but toxic waste?

BAN has, along with Greenpeace International, worked against the American Marines' sales of discarded ships to Asian ship-breakers.

Norway's view
Norwegian authorities apparently disagree with this view. A reply from the pollution division of the Ministry of Environment says:

"[...] a ship which is still running (in the sense that it still has all necessary certificates for legal sailing) is not considered waste according to Norwegian regulations, even if the shipping company intends to condemn the ship (i.e. send it to India for scrapping)."

Ellen Hambro in the Ministry of Environment (MD) says to NorWatch that the MD has not had to come to a decision on this in an actual case, but that the reply is the MD's interpretation of laws and regulations.

- On the ship question we follow international regulations, says Hambro.

The MD's reply further says:

"If Norwegian regulations of transport of waste are to apply, they must concern waste which is exported from Norway. A Norwegian registered ship which is taken out of service and condemned outside of Norway, and later exported as waste to a third country, is not covered by Norwegian regulations, but by the regulations of the country from which the 'waste' is exported."

- For the regulations to apply, the waste must be transported across the Norwegian border, irrespective of where the owner is, says Hambro. In other words, the exporting country is defined as the country in which a ship, which is to be demolished, is when it is sent away for scrapping.

Indeed, the reply given from the Ministry of Environment to NorWatch does say that even if the shipping companies follow all the formal rules in the countries to which ships are sold, they should take on part of the responsibility, and the moral responsibility, if they know that their activity leads to serious environmental problems.

- In this case, two different international sets of regulations meet: The regulations of the International Maritime Organization apply to maritime affairs, and the Basel convention regulates transport of wastes. Norway is now assessing the need for clarifying the demarcation line between the different sets of rules, Hambro ends.

Scandlines
Other parties have different interpretations. Svend Auken, Denmark's Minister of Environment, has launched an investigation of the Danish ferry company Scandlines' sale of two ferries to Alang, and of the company's plans of additional sales to Asia. The Danish Minister of the Environment reacted strongly when he was informed that such sales took place.

- This is unacceptable, Svend Auken said on Danish TV1 on 20 May after the programme "Operation Whitewash" asserted that Scandlines was fully aware of what would happen to the two ferries. If the investigation reveals that the company knew what would happen to the ferries, it is a case of export of environmentally hazardous waste.

Scandlines has refused to comment on the case.

Miljøstyrelsen, a body of the Danish Ministry of the Environment, informs NorWatch that Scandlines' sale is still under police investigation.

- We think that a ship which sails with the aim to be demolished, must be considered as waste, says Annette Schytz in Miljøstyrelsen. This is in accordance with the interpretation of BAN and Greenpeace.

The background of this view is the transport regulations of the EU, which prohibit the sale of certain categories of hazardous waste to countries which do not participate in the OECD co-operation, and to countries which have signed the Basel convention, in particular developing countries, as these often have difficulties in handling the waste in a proper way. As of 1.1.98, the transport regulations of the EU were made even stricter.

Alang
The largest and most well-known place where these tankers end up, is the Alang beach in the Indian state Gujarat. Several companies, which have specialised in a line of business which by many people has been called the perhaps dirtiest in the world, operate here.

India recently sharpened the regulations which apply to the ship-breaking industry, but has so far not made the enforcement of them stricter. The industry has a turn-over of US$ 500 million a year, and produces 2.5 million tonnes of scrap metal, which equals 10% of India's total steel production. In Bangladesh, the ship-breaking supplies most of the steel demanded in the country.

According to Einar Straume of the broking firm Fearnley, rules that the ships must be cleaned up before they arrive at Alang do exist. However, it has turned out over and over again that this is not true, or that the rules are not complied with. All the Norwegian shipping lines whom NorWatch has spoken with have admitted that the ships were not cleaned up before they were sent to India. This is supported by statements from workers in Alang, and international environmental organisations.

In reality, Alang is nothing but a beach with a wide tidal range. This makes it possible for ships to sail all the way onto the beach. This makes both port and dry dock superfluous. Ordinarily, the breaking-up of ships shall take place in dry dock to protect the environment from asbestos, PCB, lead, and tin.

35,000 workers make a living in the various shipyards of Alang. The working conditions are deficient. The workers do not have access to protective equipment, and the work is mostly manual. Explosions in gas tanks and falling steel plates occur daily, threatening the health of the workers.

India's enforcement of the country's regulations is occasional at best, and the country is ridden by inefficiency and corruption. As a result, the owners of the many Alang companies can run the place as they like. Because there is no shortage of labour, the owners can pay low salaries, and they are not hindered by strict safety regulations and considerations for the environment. For example, the safety regulations of the state instruct the workers to wear helmets, safety straps, and protective masks, but countless eyewitnesses confirm that these rules are not observed.

Injured workers have no safety net. They are left to themselves, but many remain in the area, hoping for some compensation from the employers. The family of the workers who die at work are entitled to injury benefit, but in many cases this is not paid, or it is delayed. About 10,000 cases of this sort are being tried by the special court of labour in Bhavnagar, which is the closest town to Alang.
 
"How can a ship on its way to being broken up, filled with asbestos, PCB, waste oil and so on, be considered as anything but toxic waste?"
Jim Pucket in the American organisation Basel Action Network (BAN).

Reactions
Environmental and human rights organisations from various parts of the world have become involved in the campaign against export of Western waste to developing countries.

- Yes, India is poor, yes, we need jobs, but we find it detestable that we are offered the world's worst health hazards, the world's worst jobs, to improve the environment and health of the North to the detriment of our own, says Ravi Agarwal from BAN in India when asked what are his comments on Scandlines' ferry sales.

According to the Norwegian newspaper Bergens Tidende, the commissioner for the environment of the EU, Ritt Bjerregaard, thinks that export of discarded ships is a violation of both Norwegian legislation and the guidelines of the EU. She says that she will raise the issue within the EU.

Norwegian politicians have also reacted strongly to this matter, and a majority in the Norwegian parliament is now against the continuation of Norwegian export of ships for scrapping in Asia.
 
Export of ships with Norwegian owners or management for demolition in Asia
The following ships have been sent to Asia to be demolished. This export is probably illegal according to the Basel convention and the regulations of the OECD co-operation.

Ships: Construction year: Type: Sold: Destination: Owner/Manager:
Larina  1972 Dry Bulk Carrier 21.2.97 Pakistan Bergesen D.Y ASA
Berge Adria 1972 Dry Bulk Carrier  23.1.98 India Bergesen D.Y ASA
SGC Pioneer  1976 Ore Oiler 30.5.97 Pakistan Bulls Tankrederi
Heritage Express 1977 Containership 30.1.98 Bangladesh Knutsen OAS Shipping
Eagle Arrow 1974 Forest Product Carrier 1.4.98 China K.G. Jebsen
Richfield 1974 Forest Product Carrier 29.4.98 Pakistan  K.G. Jebsen
Kestrel Arrow 1974 Forest Product Carrier 29.5.98 Pakistan  K.G. Jebsen
Solborg 1972 Bulk Carrier 10.1.97 Bangladesh Solstad Shipping
Danyal Express 1975   15.8.97 Bangladesh Sejersted-Bödtker
Torino 1975 Oil Tanker 11.4.97 Bangladesh Wilh. Wilhelmsen
Autobahn 1972 Car transport 15.5.98 Turkey United European Car Carriers


This list is worked out for NorWatch by the Clarkson Research Institute in London. All the ships have been confirmed by the shipping companies, with the exception of Sejersted-Bödtker's ship Danyal Express. This is because the shipping company was unwilling to comment on the case

Norwatch Newsletter 15/98

- Annonse -