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BRUSSELS: January 30, 2019. According to the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, 744 large ocean-going commercial vessels were sold to scrap yards in 2018. Of these, 518 were broken down on tidal mudflats in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, amounting to a record-breaking 90.4 percent of the gross tonnage dismantled globally.

The Platform said at least 34 workers lost their lives when breaking apart beached vessels last year with 14 dying in Alang, India, 20 in Bangladeshi yards and one in Pakistan.

The “worst corporate dumper” in 2018 was South Korean company Sinokor Merchant Marine that sold 11 ships for breaking on Asian beaches in 2018 - eight in Bangladesh and three in India. Norwegian Nordic American Tankers (NAT) was “runner up” with three vessels sold to Alang for breaking and five in Chittagong.

shipbreakingOther companies that sold their vessels for the highest price to the worst breaking yards last year included Chevron, Costamare, H-Line, Louis plc, Seabulk, SOVCOMFLOT, Teekay, Zodiac Group and CMB, according to the NGO.

"Clean and safe solutions are already available. Responsible ship owners, such as Dutch Boskalis, German Hapag Lloyd, and Scandinavian companies Wallenius-Wilhelmsen and Grieg, recycle their vessels off the beach. The EU maintains a list of clean and safe ship recycling facilities. More ships need to be diverted towards these sites," said Nicola Mulinaris, NGO Shipbreaking Platform Communication and Policy officer.

The organisation has also recorded an increase in offshore units that have gone for scrap with 96 out of 138 ending up on the beaches of South Asia in 2018. They included 81 small-sized tug/supply ships and 33 semi-submersible platforms dumped by companies including Noble Corp, ENSCO, Tidewater, Diamond Offshore and Petrobras, it said.

"The figures of 2018 are shocking. No shipowner can claim to be unaware of the dire conditions at the beaching yards, still they massively continue to sell their vessels to the worst yards to get the highest price for their ships,” said NGO Shipbreaking Platform founder and executive director Ingvild Jenssen. “Ship owners have a responsibility to sell to recycling yards that invest in their workers and environment," she added.

The Platform said shipowners are now facing increased pressure from investors and credit providers to stop selling their ships to beaching yards. In early 2018, Scandinavian pension funds KLP and GPFG were the first to divest from four shipping companies due to their beaching practices.

From December 31 last year, EU-flagged commercial vessels above 500 GT must be recycled in safe and environmentally sound ship recycling facilities that are included on the European List of approved ship recycling facilities.

"For too long, EU vessels have been dismantled in poor environmental and social conditions. This is not acceptable any longer." declared European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella. "The full entry into force of the EU Regulation on ship recycling is a milestone for this sector, as it provides for the first time clear and specific rules on how EU-flagged vessels should be recycled. Like other recycling activities, ship recycling can be carried out sustainably, in a way that is good for workers, the environment and the economy. We count on all actors in the sector to work constructively with us to make it happen," 

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