NGOs accuse shipping line of flaunting international hazardous waste laws

Greenpeace and the Basel Action Network (BAN) have accused Container shipping company, P&O Nedlloyd of breaking European hazardous waste laws by scrapping ships containing hazardous wastes in developing countries.

“For the shipping industry it is cheaper to demolish ships in developing countries than to process the hazardous waste adequately in the country of origin. Europe and all OECD countries must take responsibility over their hazardous wastes and not simply avoid the problem or even make money out of it by dumping it on Asia”, said Claire Tielens of Greenpeace.

Ships-for-scrap, unless cleaned of hazardous substances, such as asbestos, lead paint, PCBs and heavy metals, are considered `contaminated metal scrap’ and therefore subject to the Basel Convention which controls the transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal. The export of hazardous waste from OECD-countries to non-OECD countries is banned under the convention. This export ban has entered into force for all EU countries in January 1998.

According to Greenpeace, since March this year P&O Nedlloyd has sold seven ships to be scrapped in India, Bangladesh and China, and these ships are scrapped in crude working conditions and any useful material sold for recycling.

P&O Nedlloyd told edie it considered it was meeting legal requirements, but has arranged a meeting with Greenpeace on Tuesday 23 November to discuss the situation.

BAN has sent a representative from India, Ravi Agarwal, to present the company with details on the real story of workers and environmental contamination in Alang (India), the world’s largest scrapping site for ocean going ships and past destination of P&O Nedlloyd vessels. In Alang, it is normal practice to remove the carcinogenic asbestos with bare hands and without any breathing protection. Workers torchcut steel covered with centimetre thick paint layers, without protection against the fumes containing heavy metals. A large part of the toxic substances also end up in the sea and in the agricultural hinterland.

Greenpeace calls for an independent toxic inventory of all ships owned by EU-based companies that are planned to be sold for scrapping in Asian countries.

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