See you in India...

Feature story - 16 September, 2002
The trade in toxic waste is outlawed in many countries. However this trade still continues away from the public gaze or under another name. We teamed up with internet activists to expose a common form of toxic waste trade.

Ship being scrapped, Alang, Gujarat, India.

Every year, hundreds of ships are sent to scrap yards in Asia. These ships contain large amounts of toxic waste like asbestos and heavy metals. During scrapping these toxic substances pollute the environment. Asbestos fibres fill the air, oil and other poisons litter the once pristine beaches and pollute the sea around the yards. The working conditions in these shipbreaking yards are appalling, often with inadequate or non existent safety regulations or protective clothing.

We are working to ensure that ship owners in the developed world clean ships before being sent for scrapping, rather than dumping toxic ships in Asia. Shipowners sell old ships for millions of dollars. Part of this huge profit should be used to ensure toxic chemicals are removed and not left to endanger the lives of workers and the environment in Asia.

To pressure the shipping industry into cleaning up its act we created a website and asked for help from concerned people involved in shipping. We are receiving several useful tips a week and one has lead to the case of the 'Gerd'.

According to our sources this ship is heading for scrapping in Asia, it has been sold and renamed in recent months and owners have refused to provide a list of the hazardous substances onboard. We will be tracking the Gerd with help from tips through the website to see if it is heading for scrapping in India or elsewhere in Asia.

The 'Gerd' is one of the top-50 ships highlighted on the shipbreaking website. These vessels are likely to be scrapped soon on Asian beaches. We have informed the ship owners that we will be actively monitoring these ships and asking that ships be decontaminated of all toxic substances like asbestos prior to scrapping. By following the 'Gerd' to its final destination, we are demonstrating that these ship owners intentionally endanger workers and the environment by chasing big profits.