|TOXIC TRADE: Shipbreaking in Pakistan. Photo credit, NGO Shipbreaking Platform 2012.|
An NGO reports the following:
Each year, approximately 800 ocean ships reach the end of their service life and are broken down to recover steel. Yet only a fraction is handled in a safe, sustainable manner. More than 80% of all end-of-life ships are simply run ashore on tidal beaches in developing countries such as Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, where unscrupulous shipbreaking companies exploit minimal enforcement of environmental and safety rules to maximize profits.
On the beaches of South Asia, poor and unskilled migrant workers are deployed by the thousands to break down the ships manually. The ships are full of toxics such as asbestos, lead, PCBs and heavy metals and little care is given to worker safety or protection of the environment. The toxic wastes sicken the workers and ravage coastal ecosystems, and because the muddy sand and shifting grounds of tidal beaches cannot support heavy lifting equipment or safety gear, accidents injure or kill hundreds of workers each year.
The statistics are alarming….