Remains of ships delivered to IMO as strong appeal for clean shipbreaking

Greenpeace appeals to IMO to adopt legally binding guidelines on shipbreaking to protect lives and the environment

Press release - 14 July, 2003

Greenpeace activists deliver a sculpture, 2 by 5 metres, made from the remains of ships taken from Indian shipbreaking yards to delegates attending the International Maritime Organisation in London.

Greenpeace today delivered a sculpture, 2 by 5 metres, made from the remains of ships taken from Indian shipbreaking yards to delegates attending the International Maritime Organisation in London. The sculpture was made from the funnels of five old ships, one of which, the Greek owned Amina,[1] exploded in the yard, killing 9 people and causing over a dozen serious injuries. The sculpture serves as a reminder of the human and environmental toll caused by current shipbreaking practices.

The Marine Environmental Protection Committee of the IMO will this week address the current practice of dealing with end-of- life vessels. Even today old ships are being sent to Asia and to other developing countries containing hazardous substances which routinely risk the lives and health of local people and destroy their environment.

With this sculpture we want to make clear that this lethal business of sending toxic ships to Asia and elsewhere without cleaning them first is a lethal business that needs to stop. Currently voluntary measures proposed by the IMO will not protect the people or the environment in Asia. Some ship owners and others in the shipping industry have told Greenpeace that they too want mandatory rules to provide a level playing field. We call on the IMO to establish a legally binding regime to deal with this business, which is a form of waste trade said Ramapati Kumar, from Greenpeace India.

The ships sent for scrapping often contain substances such as asbestos, PCB s and oil known to damage human health and the environment. In addition the presence of other substances, such as fuel or gases in tanks increases the risk of explosion and other accidents putting the safety of workers at risk.

The ship owners currently continue to send vessels for breaking as is . This means full of hazardous substances, which would normally not allowed to be traded according to the international waste trade laws established under the Basel Convention. Greenpeace believes that unless the ships are decontaminated prior to their arrival at shipbreaking yards, the shipping industry is, in practice, breaking established principles of international law.

According to Greenpeace, current voluntary proposals are not enough to prevent pollution or to improve the dangerous working conditions in shipbreaking yards. Effective prevention of pollution takes place only when hazardous substances are removed from end-of-life vessels, which needs to be mandatory and consistent with international waste trade laws.

Instead of trying to throw Greenpeace out of the IMO [2], delegates should get down to the real business at hand to protect of life and the environment from the worst impacts of the shipping industry , added Paul Horsman, Head of the Greenpeace delegation to IMO.

VVPR info: Photos and video of the action available from Greenpeace International, Photo desk John Novis Mob: +31653819121; Video Hester van Meurs, Mob: +31629001135

Notes: (1) Amina exploded in Alang on February 2003 killing 9 workers and injuring more than a dozen people. The ship contained hazardous gas and other toxic substances. The Greek owner, Chandris, still refuses to take any responsibility for the way the ship was delivered. (2) At the most recent meeting of the Council in April the IMO announced it was revoking the Greenpeace consultative status, however, following a procedural question, this decision has been deferred to the full Assembly meeting in November 2003.