Hazardous ship-breaking | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 13, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, October 13, 2010

Editorial

Hazardous ship-breaking

HC directives must be complied with

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It is a double edged culpability being perpetrated with impunity. In the first place, ship-breaking yards have been operating without having obtained environment clearance certificate (ECC) from the Directorate of Environment (DOE). This has been going on despite an earlier HC directive to the government not to allow such uncertified yards to run.
We are aware of ship-breaking yards doing business without formal registration so that it has been difficult to bring them within the fold of discipline. They have carried the two-some stigma in terms of use of child labour in extremely hazardous conditions, sometimes causing fatalities. Basically, they are guilty of breaking contaminated ships as scraps much to the peril of the environment around.
Now, a High Court bench on Monday, in response to a petition filed by Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers' Association (BELA) has issued some fresh directives to the government. It has asked the authorities not to issue any no objection certificate (NOC) for importing scrap ships into the country without environmental clearance and decontamination certificate issued at source. Actually it has directed the government to ensure submission of proper decontamination certificates in accordance with Basel Convention which treats old ships themselves as hazardous wastes. That is because they come with built-in toxic substances. Cleaning ships is a difficult exercise involving huge cost. So the insistence on the importers to procure decontamination certificate from the exporting party is so very relevant. It is only on satisfaction of such documentation will the environment authority allow any scrap ship into our territory and not before that.
In fact, the Supreme Court's directive of August 22nd to Bangladesh Ship Breakers Association (BSBA) was quite specific on the subject: it asked BSBA 'to execute the HC order to get all scrap ships decontaminated at source and outside Bangladesh territory'.
Whatever maybe the industrial demand for scrap iron, there are ways to meet our requirement by following the best practice method as is done in other neighbouring countries. Why should be allow our yards to be a dumping ground.

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