- Middle East
WHERE SHIPS GO TO DIE
Most of large cargo ships from all over the world end up on the shores of the countries of the Indian Subcontinent after becoming no longer seaworthy and too expensive to operate. After being hauled onto the shore, those ships are disassembled into the pieces by manual force. Work in ship‐breaking yards is extremely difficult, while workers face risks from the dangerous conditions and exposure to materials such as asbestos and heavy metals. Among the biggest ship breaking yards in the world are those in Chittagong (Bangladesh), Alang (India) and Gadani (Pakistan). Ship breaking is a thriving sector in the countries of Indian Subcontinent where the major facilities involved in disassembly and recycling of disused vessels are located. Despite being the source of income for thousands of families, ship breaking has numerous negative sides reflected in its hazardous environmental impact and as well social due to the fact that it represents a high‐risk profession where the child labor is also largely present. The human costs and the environmental impacts of taking toxic ships apart on the South Asian beaches are devastating. Accidents kill or maim numerous workers each year. Many more workers suffer from occupational diseases, including cancer. Toxic spills and pollution cause irreparable damage to coastal ecosystems and the local communities depending on them. In addition to taking a huge toll on the health and lives of workers, shipbreaking is a highly polluting industry. In South Asia, ships are grounded before they are pulled and broken apart on tidal mudflats. On these once pristine beaches, coastal ecosystems and the local communities depending on them are devastated by toxic spills and other types of pollution caused by the breaking operations. As long as shipbreaking is done by way of beaching, the environment will suffer. As a consequence of the pressure against the companies that are involved in this business, access to the ship breaking yards became very difficult in recent years.