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ISSN: 2161-0525
Journal of Environmental & Analytical Toxicology
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Overview of Ship Recycling Industry of Bangladesh

Khandakar Akhter Hossain*
Chief Naval Architect and Marine Engineer, BN GuidedMissile Corvette Project, Wuchang Shipbuilding Industry Co Ltd, Wuhan, China
Corresponding Author : Khandakar Akhter Hossain
Chief Naval Architect and Marine Engineer
BN GuidedMissile Corvette Project
Wuchang Shipbuilding Industry Co Ltd
Wuhan, China
Tel: 0086-18251320510
E-mail: [email protected]
Received June 06, 2015; Accepted July 27, 2015; Published July 31, 2015
Citation: Hossain KA (2015) Overview of Ship Recycling Industry of Bangladesh. J Environ Anal Toxicol 5:312. doi:10.4172/2161-0525.1000312
Copyright: © 2015 Hossain KA. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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This paper deals with the status of ship-recycling industry in Bangladesh in compare to world and which has received considerable attention during last two decades. The social and environmental impacts of the ship recycling in Bangladesh have also been covered. Considering its positive economical contribution as well as some negative effect like lack of occupational health and safety standard, the research has made to address whether Bangladesh should continue supporting this business on their soil. Few very viable and important statistics, fact and figure has shown and analyzed for local recycling industry as a whole. Some viable recommendations are made at the conclusion.

Ship recycling; Breaking; Dismantling; Socio industrial safety; Environmental hazards
Dismantling of old/scrap ships at break-yard or suitable site under ship recycling facility to recover components/materials for reprocess/ re-use including storage and treatment on site with taking care of hazardous materials, known as Ship Recycling (SR). From statistic it’s observed that ships used to be scrapped after 25-30 years for safety reasons. In 1998 - a bumper year - a total of 673 ships or 27,254,525 DWT were scrapped. The average age of recycled ship is 30 years and there are 95,000 ships over 100 DWT in the world fleet as per Lloyd’s register. We could estimate that, the average future recycling demand would be around 3166 ship per year (=95000/30). But such approximation are simplistic as neither consider all ship types nor consider all ship sizes and moreover consider the same market dynamics over time. However, it could be estimated with some assumption that, the average of annual scrapping is about 1000 vessels. We must remember that, old ship if not recycled, will be occupied valuable space and seriously hazard to the environment [1,2].
Information and data collection of this industry was a challenge. However, through field survey was not easy as these industries are very restricted for common people [3]. However, the authors managed to convince some of the owners of ship breaking yards to extend their help for this study. Visiting some renowned ship breaking yards, the working conditions were observed; physical data was collected and analyzed to understand the real life scenario. Since a good database on such industry was not available, data was also collected from various print media, NGO reports, private and government organizations.
Location of Ship Breaking/Recycling Industry
Most of the ship breaking is carried out in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan where the high tides are especially conducive to heaving the ships up onto the beach. Over 300 ships a year are now being processed at Alang in India; which has demolished about 2,500 ships since its inception in the early 1980. On the other hand, given the fact that this work is carried out in these low income countries, one would not want to deprive these workers, of what little income they can earn (even if it appears too little by Western standards). To the 200,000 who work at Chittagong (Fauzdarhat to Kumira), in Bangladesh and the 200,000 reportedly in Alang in India must be added all those indirectly affected or benefiting from the industry. Figures 1 and 2 have been explained the ship recycling activities around the world and status of Bangladesh [4-6].
Reasons for Ship Recycling/Breaking Industry in Few Developing Countries
Obviously, the only safe way to demolish a ship would be in a shipyard. However, the last ship to be scrapped in the UK was near a half century ago. Useable facilities still exist in Spain, Turkey and Australia has undertaken a feasibility study to establish a facility. The EU is also doing a study [7]. China which until 1993 undertook half of the scrapping in the world, dropped out of the market when stricter environmental laws were introduced and her economical condition improved tremendously. Although a ship can be scrapped in two weeks in a yard as opposed to over six months on a beach, it is unlikely that industrialized countries will move back into the business. Recycling is cost-effective only in few developing nations who have natural yard, cheap labor, and high demand for recycled goods [8].
History of Bangladesh Ship Recycling Industry
In 1964, a stranded Greek vessel scrapped at Shitakundo in Chittagong by a local scrap-yard named as ‘Steel House’. In 1974 - ‘Al Abbas’, a salvaged Pakistan Navy vessel sunk during liberation war was scrapped in a Bangladeshi scrap-yard in Chittagong. However, other salvaged ships of liberation war boosted the scrapping industry. Finally in the year of 1984, Bangladesh appears as a major ship breaking/ recycling nation in the world (Table 1) [9].
It’s not Aladdin’s lamp miracle who make Bangladesh as a paradise of ship recycling industry. It’s Almighty and nature makes so. There are few distinct reasons for the development of ship recycling industry in Bangladesh:
• Availability of long beach with combination of soft sand and muddy ground
• Perfect slope for beaching
• Large tidal difference
• High demand of recovered goods
• Abundance, availability and low cost of labor
• Almost 100% materials reused locally
There are few definite reasons for choosing present location at Chittagong (Fauzdarhat to Kumira), for ship recycling industry in Bangladesh [10] (Tables 2 and 3). Those are as follows:
• Availability of a long unused beach suitable for Beaching Method
• Availability and suitable to support a heavy industry
• Availability of linkage industries within a reachable distance
• Having direct road communication with linkage industries
• Non existence of any sensitive area around
• Availability of perfect slope for beaching
• Found naturally large tidal difference
• Availability and low cost of labor
Contribution of Ship Breaking/Recycling Industry toward Socio-economical Development of Bangladesh
Ship recycling industry has distinct impact on socio-economic development for the country. That has been shown below.
• In the absence of iron ore, scrap ship ensures the sustainable economic development of the nation.
• About a million people are directly and indirectly related to the industry.
• Annual revenue earning from the industry is more than US$ 130 million.
• Provide raw materials for linkage industries like inland shipbuilding industry, construction industry, re-rolling mills, steel mills, oxygen plants, cable, ceramics, furniture factories etc.
• Supports local shipbuilding by providing steel plates, machineries, equipments, boats, navigation aids, electrical and electronics materials, fire fighting and life saving equipment, deck fitting and fixture, hundred of seamanship items, etc. Tables 4 and 5 will define the contribution of local ship breakyard industry.
• More than 60% materials and machineries for local shipbuilding come from local ship breaking/recycling industry. Inland and some extend coastal shipbuilding will be cripple without local ship breaking/recycling industry.
• Ship breaking/recycling industry indirectly supporting another two million people who are related to local shipbuilding industry [11].
• Provides about 35000 tons of processed wood and furniture annually and henceforth preventing de-forestation (Figures 3 and 4).
• Efficient utilization of coastal area as an economic/commercial area.
• Created serge barrier, prevented erosion and provided reclamation of land.s
• Contribution to the national economy is about US$ 2 billion.
• If local ship breaking/recycling industry will collapse, than three million people and entire national economy will suffer severely and that will reduce the GDP and will hinder entire national development process (Tables 2 and 3).
Negatives Impact of Ship Breaking Practice in Bangladesh
Specific wastes that come generally from the ship breaking yard are asbestos, Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), bilge and ballast waters, oils and fuels residues. Also, metal cutting process generates large amounts of fumes and particulate matter that pollute air. It also initiates small fires when oil or sludge is ignited by the torch. The improper storage or disposal of scrap metal and other waste generated from metal cutting may result in soil and / or water contamination, primarily from lead and other compounds. Paints and preservative coatings that can be found on both interior and exterior surfaces of a ship may contain toxic compounds such as PCBs, heavy metals and pesticides. In many ship breaking yards in Bangladesh, workers are not using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as skin, eye or lung protection. Appropriate PPE for working in specialized areas, such as respiratory protective equipment for work in conditions where there is a risk of oxygen deficiency, is also generally not used. There is usually no equipment for machine safety, fire safety, chemical safety and water safety, and when such equipment exists, these are poorly maintained. With a few exceptions, the vast majority of workers do not receive any information on the hazards or risks to health and safety, nor do they receive any training on how to minimize risks to health and safety at work. Improper storage and disposal of scrap metal and waste contaminate the soil and groundwater resources, causing acute and long-term pollution [12]. Most of the ship breaking yards have neither any containment to prevent pollution of soil, air, marine and freshwater resources, nor the technology needed to ensure the environmentally safe management and disposal of hazardous wastes and materials (Table 4).
Materials Collect from Scraps Ship and their Re-use
It’s now well proven fact that, ship-breaking has earned a good reputation for being a profitable industry in developing countries. On the other hand, media well circulated that, there are a number of environmental and human health hazards in the industry. Depending on their size and function, scrapped ships have an unladened weight of between 5,000 and 40,000 tons (the average being 13000+), 95% of which is steel, coated with between 10 and 100 tons of paint containing lead, cadmium, organotins, arsenic, zinc and chromium. Ships also contain a wide range of other hazardous wastes, sealants containing PCBs, up to 7.5 tones of various types of asbestos and; several thousands liters of oil (engine oil, bilge oil, hydraulic and lubricants oils and grease). Tankers additionally hold up to 1,000 cubic meters of residual oil. Most of these materials have been defined as hazardous waste under the Basel Convention. But from practical experience and on ground data, totally different story found at Chittagong ship-breakyards in Bangladesh. Let discuss about few sample ships; which have been shown in below (Tables 5-7).
Challenges Ahead
• Establishment of hospital, ambulance and first aid nearby.
• Procurement of specialized vessel with oil spill prevention, fire fighting, first aid, rescue capacity, etc.
• Establishment of specialized shore Fire Service.
• Ensure protective clothing and washing area for handling asbestos in every yard.
• Procurement and use of gas detection equipment.
• Ensure provide reasonable comfort while at rest for labour.
• Ensure training of labour.
• Ensure handling Hazmat with care.
• Ensure ratify and follow Hong Kong Convention.
• Ensure labour safety and job security.
• Ensure rehabilitation of labour.
• Ensure monitory and medical help of the injured labour.
• Ensure infrastructure support (electricity, gas, medical, communication facility, etc) for the entire industry.
• Establishment of R&D centre and fund rise for R&D activities.
• Establishment of corporate management culture.
• Ensure uninterrupted gas and electricity supply.
• Establishment of Model yard.
Expert Suggestions for Safe Ship Recycling
Some consolidate expert views and few suggestion regarding safe ship recycling and handling hazmat has been shown in Tables 8 and 9 in below.
There are few important recommendations has been given below to improve the overall situation of ship re-cycling industry in Bangladesh [2,6].
• There need to be develop of ship recycling policy for Bangladesh.
• There may be joint cell of government and industry providing one stop service.
• Make ship recycling complaint to Hong Kong Convention.
• Establishment of viable training facilities
• Procurement of hazardous material (hazmat) detection, extracting equipments and relevant transport facilities.
• Procurement of specialized vessel/tug for antipollution, firefighting and rescue purpose.
• Establishment of specialized fire fighting station on shore near recycling sites.
• Establishment of hospital with adequate support system.
• Establishment of model yard for green ship recycling.
• Establishment of ship recycling economic zone.
• Development of regional forum with Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.
• Development of bilateral ship recycling treaty with shipping nations.
• Cases in the honorable court should be solved soon.
• Isolated initiatives by Government or NGO’s should be stopped.
• Ministry of Shipping (MoS) being the focal ministry should sit with other concerned ministries and stake holders for taking actions on:
• Adopt ship recycling policy in line with Hong Kong Convention.
• Take actions to ratify Hong Kong Convention.
• Undertake bilateral recycling policy agreements with flags.
• Take initiative to form regional cooperation.
• Take steps to create a ship recycling economic zone.
• Organize recycling policy as a green industry.
• Solve any dispute and misunderstanding among the related organization.
• Every concern should understand the socio-economic importance of the sector.
• Comply general requirements for ship recycling facilities.
• Stop import of warships, nuclear/ radioactive ships.
• Passenger ships should not to be imported till no asbestos.
• There should be system for submission of list of hazmat to the administration prior import of any scrap ship.
• Ship recycling plan need to be developed by facilities in consultation with owner as per capability of recycling facility.
• There should be system for supervision of administration during ship recycling.
• There should be incident and completion reports in the recycling area.
• There need to be certification system for break-yards for compliance to regulations.
• It needs to establish R&D centre for the improvement of the sector.
• It needs viable budget and allocation of fund for the improvement of the sector.
• For the purpose of workers safety and training:
• Ensure availability and use of personal protective gears and equipments.
• Ship break-yard need to have safety equipment such as: fire fighting equipment, rescue equipment and fast aid facilities.
• Regular health check up for workers
• Utilities and amenities for workers as per labor law.
• Ensure cargo tanks are gas free for hot work.
• Ensure labeling of all hazardous material on board.
• Training for workers, supervisors and managers.
• Stop employment of child labor.
• For the purpose of environmental Protection
• Recycling yard should not to be establish in or near environmental sensitive area.
• Recycling yard need to be established only in designated areas with the supervision of Government.
• Prior removal of hazmat to the extent practicable and as per the recycling plan.
• Asbestos and asbestos material should not to be recycled.
• Different type of waste and hazmat should not be mixed.
• Electric cable/cable insulation should not to be burnt.
• Ballast water to be changed in deep sea.
• Establish waste recycling facility in the recycling area.
Bangladesh is the paradise of ship breaking/recycling industry in the world. It’s Almighty’s blessing and nature makes so. Availability of long beach with combination of soft sand and mud ground; perfect slope for beaching; large tidal difference; high demand of recovered goods as almost 100% materials reused locally and finally availability and low cost of labor make Bangladesh the best ship breaking/recycling nation in the world. There can be no doubt that breaking/scrapping a ship that has been run up onto a beachhead qualifies as unsafe and dangerous work. But for a least developing or poor country like Bangladesh, where most of the population live just hand to mouth; such so called dangerous industry is nothing but blessing. About two lac of worker are directly and three million people are indirectly related to the industry. Annual revenue earning from the industry is more than US$ 130 million. This industry provide raw materials for linkage industries like inland shipbuilding industry, construction industry, re-rolling mills, steel mills, oxygen plants, cable, ceramics, furniture, machinery/tools factories, etc. The overall contribution of local ship breaking industry to the national economy is about US$ 2 billion. If local ship breaking/recycling industry will collapse, than three million people and entire national economy will suffer severely and that will reduce the GDP and will hinder entire national development process. This industry could contribute more in future if country can handle the industry with care.

Tables and Figures at a glance

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Table 6 Table 7 Table 8 Table 9

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  1. Dr Sharmin Hasan
    Posted on Feb 10 2016 at 9:05 pm
    An excellent article, so far I read on this subject. Nice and actual information was collected and analyzed by author. Congrats to author.

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