NGO Shipbreaking calls on EU to investigate fatalities at Turkish recycling yards

NGO Shipbreaking Platform is calling on the European Union to investigate incidents that claimed two lives at Turkish ship recycling yards that are included in the EU List of approved ship recycling facilities

Illustration; Image courtesy: NGO Shipbreaking Platform 2013

According to the NGO, on 3 October 2020, a worker lost his life during the scrapping of two Transocean offshore rigs at Isiksan yard. A handrail broke and fell, hitting the worker at the back of his neck.

Furthermore, on 4 February, another worker died when hit by a steel block which he was torch-cutting in the secondary cutting area of Simsekler yard, where a Carnival Corporation’s cruise vessel is currently being recycled.

As informed, both yards were quick to immediately involve the concerned authorities.

These tragic fatal accidents are a sad reminder that ship recycling is a heavy and hazardous industry that exposes workers to several safety risks. We are closely following the investigations of the yards, as well as those of Turkish authorities, and expect that full transparency is maintained,” says Ingvild Jenssen, Director and Founder of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform.

The EU Ship Recycling Regulation mandates for the EU-flagged vessels to be recycled in one of the currently 43 approved sites around the world. Seven out of the 22 yards operating in Aliaga have so far received EU approval.

They recycle only a smaller fraction of the world fleet but have attracted owners that want to recycle their vessels more responsibly than on the beaches of India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, where the vast majority of end-of-life vessels end up. 

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The European Commission must ensure that all EU-listed yards operate in line with the requirements of the EU Ship Recycling Regulation. Two serious accidents have taken place at two separate EU-approved facilities in Aliaga, and in both cases we have requested that the Commission takes appropriate action to understand whether these sites indeed operate in line with the Regulation,” says Jenssen.

The many risks involved in taking large vessels apart need to be managed at sites that can safely use heavy lifting cranes, contain pollutants and dispose of hazardous materials in line with international waste laws.

The accident at Simsekler should further prompt a serious evaluation of how mechanical cutting might contribute to reducing risk, including exposure to toxic fumes and release of slag caused by torch cutting.

Jenssen insists that there is enormous scope to improve ship recycling practices, both in terms of safety and environmental protection, as well as to boost recycling- and cost-effectiveness by the use of innovative technologies.