The Greenpeace sailing vessel the Rainbow Warrior is currently anchored off the coast of Alang, India. Alang is the site of the world's largest shipbreaking yard. Greenpeace is planning to conduct "toxic patrols" of ships which are here waiting for scrapping. A team of experts will do a survey and take samples to determine what type of toxic materials are on board before the ships are beached and the actual scrapping starts. Shipbreaking is an enormous danger for people and the environment. Greenpeace is the only organization in the world fighting for the 100,000 people working in this industry and for the environment they live in.
Rainbow Warrior on Toxic Patrol in India
On the 14th of October the highest court in India decided that
the responsibility for clean scrap (shipbreaking) lies not just
with the shipbreakers, but also, and more importantly, with the
ship owners. This Court Order says that all ships must be
toxic-free before the scrapping actually begins. If the Greenpeace
"toxic patrols" show that ships arriving in India for scraping
still contain toxic substances, we will demand that the Indian
government enforce the Supreme Court Order and take action against
the owners of these ships.
International Maritime Organization
Greenpeace is also lobbying the Indian government to take a
strong position in the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)
with the other shipbreaking countries (Bangladesh, China, Pakistan
and Turkey). The IMO is the only party, within the United Nations,
which can make international rules for the ship owners. At the
moment they have only proposed voluntary guidelines for the
shipbreaking industry. Greenpeace believes that only a mandatory
international law can effectively regulate the ship owners. At this
stage there are many ruses that ship owners can use to subvert
these the rules and regulations. If India is the only country that
has strict regulations on shipbreaking then ship owners will go
elsewhere to find lax regulations.
Scrap yard Alang
The Alang shipbreaking yards started scrapping ships in 1983 and
is now the world's biggest. Alang contains 184 plots which employ
40.000 workers. Current shipbreaking methods pose a serious danger
to both people and the environment. Most of the toxic waste ends up
in the ocean. The workers inhale toxic substances, such as
asbestos, 24 hours a day: at work and, because they live right next
to the yards, at home. They are not provided with any protective
clothing or safety equipment nor are they provided with any
training on how to deal with toxic materials. There are regular
accidents in the yards which often cause the deaths of many people.
In the past three months there have been 4 explosions in which 25
people died. On top of all this most workers are paid on average
US$1 per day and have no system of worker's medical insurance or
What Greenpeace wants
Greenpeace is not against shipbreaking or the shipbreakers.
Greenpeace wants a mandatory international law requiring that all
ships must have an inventory of all toxic materials on board.
Locations of materials must be clear. A plan must be made to remove
all these toxic materials before the ship goes for scrap and before
the ship gets scrapped it must be made fuel-free to avoid future
Check out the crew weblog from
the Rainbow Warrior, with daily updates from the ship.