Ship sales for recycling fell significantly in 2022
According to new data released by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, 443 ocean-going commercial ships and offshore units were sold for scrapping in 2022.
Of these, 292 large tankers, bulkers, floating platforms, cargo- and passenger ships ended up for dirty and dangerous breaking on tidal beaches in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.
Whilst the South Asian shipbreaking yards experienced the lowest turnover in over a decade, with a significant drop in terms of the number of ships scrapped, they remained the preferred destination for end-of-life vessels, dismantling 80% of the global end-of-life gross tonnage.
The reasons for the plunge in the number of vessels scrapped in 2022 are multiple, with high ocean freight rates that made it profitable to continue operating older vessels and banks� shortages in providing credits to companies for the purchase of end-of-life assets identified as the main drivers.
�Companies have a duty to eliminate the negative impacts that their commercial decisions have on the environment and people. End-of-life vessels are hazardous waste, and taking them apart on tidal beaches is by far the worst industrial practice�, Ingvild Jenssen, Executive Director and Founder of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, told Hellenic Shipping News.
In South Asia, workers � often exploited migrants � are exposed to immense risks. Dangerous working conditions, including fires and falling steel plates, kill or seriously injure numerous workers. Many more are sickened by exposure to toxic fumes and substances that can be found within the ships� structures. Coastal biomes, and the local communities depending on them, are devastated by toxic spills and air pollution due to the lack of infrastructure to contain, properly manage and dispose of hazardous materials.
In 2022, at least 10 workers lost their lives and 33 workers suffered injuries when breaking apart vessels on the beach of Chattogram, Bangladesh. Local sources also reported three deaths in Alang, India, and three injuries in Gadani, Pakistan. Some of these accidents took place onboard vessels owned by well-known shipping companies, such as Berge Bulk, Sinokor and Winson Oil.
The 2022 worst country dumper was China. Chinese owners sold 28 ships for scrapping in South Asia, most of which were beached in Bangladesh. Russia, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and Greece follow with more than a dozen ships beached each.
Major dry bulk carrier Berge Bulk, which has figured amongst the worst corporate dumpers several years in a row, reached the top in 2022. The company scrapped four carriers in Bangladesh and India, reaching a total of 24 vessels beached in the last ten years.
Berge Bulk�s scrapping practices stand in evident contrast with the company�s declared commitment to sustainability and safety. According to local sources, three separate accidents, causing injuries to three workers, occurred during the cutting of the Berge Kangchenjunga at Ferdous Steel yard in Bangladesh.
On 3 March, Amirul broke his leg after a fall. On 27 April, an iron piece suddenly hit Sedan Das on his spine. On 2 August, Motin suffered burn injuries due to a fire. Shipping sources link cash buyer GMS to the sale of the BERGE KangchenjungA, re-named JENGA prior beaching.