Brussels/Chittagong — In October, the „Peace Happiness and Prosperity shipbreaking yard“ received a Statement of Compliance with the Hong Kong Convention by the Italian classification society RINA. such a labelling sets a dangerous precedent for the further green-washing of the Chittagong beaching yards. Workers and the environment are not protected as long as ships are broken on the beach and as long as fundamental labour rights and proper infrastructure are not secured, trade unions in Bangladesh as well as the NGO Shipbreaking Platform’s member Bangladesh Institute for Labour Studies are concerned.
Despite some investments in the PHP yard to concrete parts of the upper beach, the severe deficiencies in infrastructure for the containment of toxics renders any statement of compliance with pollution prevention standards ludicrous. When vessels are cut in the intertidal zone, toxics are inevitably released in the sea. The entire Chittagong area is heavily polluted, and there is no means for any beaching yard to handle and dispose hazardous waste, such as oil residues, heavy metals and asbestos, in a safe and environmentally sound manner.
According to NGO Shipbreaking Platform, the Hong Kong Convention’s ship recycling requirements stop at the gate of the yard, therefore the fact that Bangladesh still has no waste treatment facility for general waste, let alone for the toxic materials coming from ships, is completely overlooked by the Convention. Statements of Compliance with the Hong Kong Convention are clearly no guarantee that the environment and workers are protected from the many risks connected to the heavy and hazardous industry of ship recycling.
“That a beaching yard in Chittagong is able to comply with the Hong Kong Convention tells us a lot about the extremely low standard set by the International Maritime Organisation”, said Ingvild Jenssen, Director and Founder of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform and added: “Any ship owner looking for a safe and clean location for the recycling of their ship will be wise to disregard the very misleading Statements of Compliance with the Hong Kong Convention, and instead consult the upcoming EU List of approved ship recycling facilities.”
Source: NGO Shipbreaking Platform