Manila warned against putting up shipbreaking industry

Published by rudy Date posted on March 26, 2009

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines was warned against establishing a shipbreaking industry since its operations involve the disposal of toxic substances harmful to both humans and the environment.

If approved, the proposal to put up local shipbreaking facilities “will expose Filipino workers to danger and leave our coastal environment poisoned with toxins,” environmental group Ban Toxics said in a statement.

Although shipbreaking – also known as ship demolition – involves recycling some vessel parts, it nevertheless may lead to “toxic dumping.”

“Ships utilize various toxic materials in their structure,” Richard Gutierrez, executive director of Ban Toxics, said. “So when they get scrapped the toxins get scrapped as well.”

Overall, the proposal is “a bad deal,” the group said.

Gutierrez added that “these are the very investments and industries that it was concerned with regarding the Japan-Philippines Economic artnership Agreement.”

“Our government should not be fooled by this offer. End-of-life essels are toxic wastes,” he added.

The group was prompted to issue this statement after Japanese hipowners were reported to have proposed a shipbreaking industry during a meeting last week in Manila.

Japan has some 5,000 vessels and operators are considering scrapping five to ten percent of their fleet, estimated to reach 300 vessels, the group  claimed.

Harmful substances found on ships include cancer-causing asbestos which is usually found in engine rooms; waste oils and fuels which threaten birds and mammals; polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a human carcinogen found in paints, gaskets, and wires; and heavy metals which are neurotoxins found in batteries and electrical compounds.

At least one worker a day dies from explosions or accidents in shipbreaking yards, the group claimed.

The world’s top shipbreaking countries are South Asian countries, like India and Bangladesh. – GMANews.TV

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