Asbestos is cleaned from buildings in Europe because of the hazards to human health. But Europe still exports asbestos to Asia in the form of old ships full of hazardous waste which are scrapped on beaches by unprotected workers. We are acting to put an end to this practice.
Activists scale the EU building to call for an end to the export of hazardous waste in old ships to Asia.
To highlight this European double standard climbers scaled an EU
building in Brussels which has recently been cleaned of asbestos.
Our campaigner, Martin Besieux was at the scene: "We're
transforming this building to call for mandatory regulations to
oblige ship owners to clean their ships before sending them to be
scrapped in Asia. "While Europe cleans buildings like this of
asbestos to protect its own citizens, it allows European ship
owners to send the same toxic substance in their ships to Asia.
When the ships are scrapped, the asbestos pollutes the environment
and is a health risk to unprotected workers who remove it from the
vessels with their bare hands. Can Europe continue to uphold such
This is the culmination of a
three week tour of Europe by a delegation of people involved in
shipbreaking in Asia, to call for an urgent solution to the
environmental and health problems associated with the industry. The
shipping sector is still reluctant to assume the full liability for
the decontamination of their ships before they are exported. This
means shipbreaking countries are being polluted with known
hazardous substances such as dioxins, asbestos and PCBs. There have
been eight accidents involving contaminated ships at the Alang yard
in India alone over the past two and a half months, in which 20
people have died. Read about
the experiences on the tour and view the pictures.
We are calling on the EU to prevent pollution and protect
workers and Asian ship breaking yards by adopting mandatory
legislation to stop the shipping industry sending ships containing
hazardous materials to Asia for scrap without cleaning them
"The shipowners and shipping federations we've met during our
European visit have refused to take any responsibility or
individual efforts to clean their ships. So we've now come to
Brussels, the heart of European politics, to call for this much
needed initiative to help stop us being polluted by European
hazardous waste. If nothing changes we will continue to be exposed
to deadly toxics for many years to come," said Mr Salim, a
shipbreaker from Bangladesh.
Attempts to strengthen legislation in individual shipbreaking
countries - India, Bangladesh and China - have been undermined by
ship owners because they simply send their toxic vessels to another
country that does not have such regulations.
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