Bangladesh Supreme Court Toughens Up on Ship Breaking Yards

By MarEx 2012-11-19 11:42:00

The Supreme Court of Bangladesh has recalled a decision stemming from a lower court last week that lifted a ban allowing ship breaking yards to continue operations through October and are reevaluating the case, Reuters reports.

Ship breaking in Bangladesh is a $1.5 billion industry that activists purport is extremely dangerous not only for the environment, but for the workers involved as well.  Activists are fighting for a year-long ban on the ship recycling industry in Bangladesh, which is the top ship recycling nation from 2004-2008. 

Currently the Bangladesh government is cracking down on the pollution-intensive practice that typically takes place in developing countries due to less stringent environmental regulations.  To instill tougher safety and environmental rules on dismantling vessels, the government placed a ban on breaking for a year.  However, a court overturned that ban after the industry had vowed to adopt stricter rules, including a worker age limit of 18, proper training and safety gear, and cleaning the ships of toxic materials before arriving to the yard.

Ship breaking near Chittagong, Bangladesh

Following the lift of the ban, the Supreme Court recalled the lower court’s file and has placed it under review for July 28. 

As scrapped ships are the main source of steel for impoverished nations like Bangladesh, the government hopes the Supreme Court will uphold the lower court’s decision to lift the ban, despite opposition from activists.