Seventeen Greenpeace activists were arrested this morning after
unfolding a banner that said Stop Toxic Shipbreaking on board of
a Swiss ship, Star of Venice, which they had occupied at a
shipbreaking yard in Aliaga, Turkey. They demanded an end to the
poisonous practice of scrapping ships containing toxic materials,
including asbestos, on Turkish beaches. Before the Turkish police
made their arrest and confiscated one of the inflatable boats, the
activists painted a text that said No Toxic Ship Trade on a side
of another old ship, Best, which originated from Greece.(1)
Greenpeace investigation of the shipyards located close to Izmir
confirms that shipbreaking practice in Turkey is comparable to the
ones in China, India and Bangladesh, resulting in serious toxic
pollution, such as dioxin, endangering the workers and the
At least 50 percent of the ships being scrapped in Turkey come
from Western European operators. Greenpeace called for the European
Union (EU) to clean-up its own act by demanding its ship industry
remove hazardous substances from ships prior to their export at the
same time when it enforces high environmental and health standards
on the EU applicant countries, such as Turkey.
It is unacceptable that the shipping industry gets away with
passing hazardous waste to countries like Turkey leaving the people
and the environment exposed to the most dangerous substances known
to mankind. The EU is in a rather schizophrenic position as it aims
to enforce high environmental standards on EU applicants but
allows, at the same time, the dumping of toxic waste to its own
backyard´, said Erdem Vardar, Toxic Waste Trade Campaigner for
Greenpeace Mediterranean. Up to hundred ships are scrapped every
year in Turkey, which has so far failed to implement its ban on
imports of hazardous waste (3). Greenpeace is not against scrapping
of vessels but wants to ensure that their export is not used as an
excuse to dump toxic waste. Greenpeace demands that dumping of
toxics ships- for-scrap should be considered as a violation of the
international Basel Ban, which is currently being discussed in a
meeting in Geneva, Switzerland (4).
The situation in the shipbreaking yards on the beaches of
Turkey is not better than in India or China," says Marietta
Harjono, Greenpeace´s shipbreaking expert on board of Greenpeace´s
flagship Rainbow Warrior. We found materials containing asbestos
at the yard and at the open dumpsite, where villagers from nearby
settlements are searching for valuable materials. The health of the
people and the environment are at grave risk.
Greenpeace today launched a new website listing 50 ships
destined to sail to one of the shipbreaking yards in Asia in the
near future. Most of these ships belong to Swiss, Greek, Italian,
English and Scandinavian companies but the list includes operators
from almost all EU countries as well as Australian and US ones.
Greenpeace signalled to the industry that it intends to watch these
vessels and urge their owners to clean them before export.
Notes: (1) “Star of Venice”, company Pan Nautic (Switzerland) and “Best”, company Daglia (Greece) Greenpeace Report on Environmental, Health and Safety Conditions in Aliaga Shipbreaking Yards, Izmir, Turkey, can be downloaded from: http://www.greenpeace.org/~toxics/reports/shipbreaking.pdf Asbestos was often in ships because of the non-burning quality, isolation power and because it is chemically neutral. During breaking of ships asbestos is released. Even low concentrations of asbestos dust causes formation of scar-like tissues resulting in permanent breathing difficulties (asbestosis); it is also carcinogenic. Dioxin is regarded as one of the most toxic substances human has ever released into the environment, and it is highly carcinogenic. (3) With the “Regulation to Control Hazardous Wastes (27.08.1995 no. 22387) ”, Turkey banned the importation of hazardous waste in 1995. Under this Regulation the importation of ships-for-scrap containing hazardous waste is also considered as hazardous waste and is therefore violation of the ban (Ministry of Environment 2001). (4) The “Basel Convention on The Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal” and “Basel Ban” bans the export of hazardous wastes from OECD countries to non-OECD countries. Turkey has become a party to the “Basel Convention on The Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal” on December 20th 1994.