|Photo by Adam Cohn - www.adamcohn.com - Ship Breaking Detritus, Alang Shipyards, 2015|
Brussels April 28, 2016 - Tomorrow, European ship owners, government representatives of France, Germany and Belgium, and the European Commission will visit the Alang shipbreaking yards. Despite several indications that NGOs, including the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, would be part of the delegation, no NGO was invited to join in the end.
“We were clearly not welcome to join this visit. Critical civil society voices are not wanted in Alang – neither by ship owners, nor by the yards – this confirms the lack of transparency under which the yards in Alang operate,” said Patrizia Heidegger, Executive Director of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform.
The delegation will also not meet trade union representatives or workers, and will only visit a selection of very few yards. The visit is organised by industry association ECSA (European Community Shipowners’ Association) that represents the interests of European ship owners. It is an attempt by both ship owners and certain yards in India to convince European policy makers that yards in Alang should be approved for the upcoming EU list of accepted ship recycling facilities. However, under the European Ship Recycling Regulation and the recently published technical guidelines on the requirements for ship recycling facilities, it is clear that beaching facilities do not qualify for the EU list.
With regards to tomorrow’s visit, local environmental groups have raised several concerns related to the deplorable working conditions, poor downstream waste management and continued pollution of the coastal waters in Alang.
“We share the Gujarat-based NGOs’ concerns and demand that European ship owners do not settle for double standards. European ship owners should only use facilities that operate at a level which is accepted in the European Union. The low-cost method of beaching will not feature on the EU list,” said Heidegger.