Newsroom Web feed icon

How We Poison Bangladesh with Toxic Ship Carcasses

Ecologist  |  February 23, 2010  |  Share  |  Source article

Workers are dying in Bangladesh’s shipyards because the west's shipping industry - including UK companies - is not taking responsibility for the disposal of ageing vessels.

They are known as ‘cutters’: men who enter the tanks of huge ships, armed with a blowtorch, sunglasses and a rag to cover their mouths. Their job is to cut slabs from ships’ hulls that are sent to steel mills for re-rolling. 

The 50 or so cutters working in Bangladesh’s ship-breaking industry who entered the 275 metre long Agate on a December morning last year had been told by their bosses that the ship was ‘clean’ - free from dangerous oil and gas residues. 

But when sparks from their cutting equipment hit the bottom of the tank, there was a massive explosion.

‘It was the main gas tank in the ship. Its size was huge. I was to cut one side of the tank. Other workers also started cutting the tank. After some time the tank exploded with a tremendous bang and the tank burst into flames. I was knocked out and don’t know what happened afterward,’ said Noor Alam (pictured), one of the injured workers.

A 'hell on earth'

The Agate burned for eight hours, killing eight and leaving 13 others with horrific injuries. But for the 30,000 or so workers who make their living dismantling ships on the...

For more: follow the link above or go to the Ecologist website

Videos »

Our site uses the YouTube player, which requires that your browser be able to play Adobe Flash objects.

If you are seeing this message on an Apple iPhone, you can view this video on the YouTube site, which will launch the iPhone YouTube player.