The little known west African state of Guinea Bissau, sandwiched between Senegal and Guinea, includes the Bijagos Archipelagos. The islands are home to a huge range of wildlife and are an internationally recognised wildlife reserve and important local fisheries. Sounds like a fabulous place to dump toxic ships, doesn't it?
Ship breaking yard in India. The problem of ships containing toxic waste is exported to poor countries.
The archipelago has been protected as a UNESCO biosphere reserve
since 1993. It is known for a diverse range of wildlife, including
sea cows, hippopotamus, otters, six species of sea turtles and two
species of salt-water crocodiles. There are 700,000 migratory birds
and numerous local bird species living in and around the
archipelago. Fishing is the major source of income for locals in
Guinea Bissau. Despite this ecological heritage Spanish shipping
companies want to develop the island of Bolama as a scrap yard for
The company DDY De Comercio Exterior SA has a preliminary
agreement with the Guinea-Bissau government to build the scrap yard
alongside the two national parks on the island.
Our toxic campaigner, Marietta Harjono has seen first hand what
happens at scrap yards in Asia: "A shipbreaking yard will bring
some of the most dangerous substances known to science to Guinea
Bissau, and put the lives and environment of local people at
serious risk. We know from experience in India, Pakistan and other
developing countries that scrap ships contain hazardous materials
and oil residues. The shipping industry must not be allowed to send
hazardous waste to developing countries, and especially to a site
of such environmental importance."
While the companies involved claim the development will be
'sustainable', local groups say the companies chose Guinea Bissau
because it has not signed an international treaty to control the
export of hazardous waste to developing countries. Hardly bodes
well for the companies promises when they chose somewhere where
rules can be evaded.
If these companies are serious about a sustainable solution for
scrapping ships then they should be supporting regulations under
discussion at the International Maritime Organisation to ensure
ship owners clean and decontaminate ships before scrapping. That's
a lot more sustainable than looking to exploit developing countries
and pollute the environment.
UNESCO now to tell it to protect the islands against the threat
of the scrap yard.
Are you connected to the shipping industry, a shipspotter, a
harbourmaster, a crew member or in any other way able to know the
positions of ships? We need
Find out about the problems
of shipbreaking and the solutions. Also in Francias,