August 26, 2010
Despite intense objection by shipbreaking yard owners, the Supreme Court once again asserted its position requiring all ships coming to Bangladesh for dismantling to be pre-cleaned of all toxic materials prior to entering Bangladesh’s waters. Rizwana Hasan (Bangladesh, 2009) and her organization, BELA, have led this and other legal cases advocating for the health and safety of shipbreakers and for the environment. In an article by TIME, shipbreaking is described as “one of the world’s dirtiest and most dangerous industries,” leeching heavy metals and toxic chemicals into waterways and putting the lives of the shipbreakers at risk. It represents a significant business in Bangladesh, as well, with around 200 ships arriving to be dismantled annually.
The latest ruling requires that all ships have official documentation of decontamination issued by the environmental agencies in the nations of the parties selling the ships, a point that will inevitably be challenged by the shipbreaking industry. The Supreme Court will allow appeals to the decision after four months. Hasan and BELA will continue their fight.