Safety Concerns After Workers Die Scrapping Carnival Cruise Ship

workers killed scrapping Carnival cruise ship
Cruise ships at Turkish scrap yard earlier in the scrapping proces (ISIG Meclisi)

Published Jul 27, 2021 5:15 PM by The Maritime Executive

A coalition of environmental, human, and labor rights organizations, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, is highlighting the recent death of two workers scrapping the cruise ship Carnival Inspiration in Turkey as another example of the unsafe working conditions in the industry and the future dangers. While the operations in Turkey are part of the approved list from the European Union of ship recycling operations, the NGO is calling for further enforcement of the safety regulations and expanding the approved list to handle a potential increase in ships being sent for recycling.

The Turkish occupational health and safety assembly watch organization ISIG Meclisi reported the details of the workers' death. A fire broke out during the scrapping operation aboard the former cruise ship Carnival Inspiration while at the ship recycling yards of Aliaga, Turkey. While the details of the incident remain under investigation, the fire and a possible explosion or flash are believed to have occurred in the engine room of the cruise ship. One worker, Yilmaz Demir, age 55, was badly burnt and died during the incident. A second individual, Oguz Taskin, age 30, died of his injuries three days later in a local hospital. 

Carnival Corporation went to great lengths a year ago to ensure that its former cruise ships would be recycled responsibly. Before selling the Carnival Fantasy and Carnival Inspiration, later followed by the Carnival Imagination, to the Turkish shipbreakers, the corporation retained maritime reclamation and recycling specialists to help guide the process. “After an intensive review of sustainable ship recycling facilities, Carnival Corporation selected Turkey-based Ege Celik and Simsekler based on their track records of compliance with key national and international environmental agreements and regulations,” the corporation said. Sea2Cradle was also retained to supervise the dismantling and recycling throughout the entire process at the demolition yards to ensure the highest health, safety, and environmental standards were maintained.

NGO Shipbreaking Platform is reporting that due to lack of dismantling capacity, Carnival Corporation later approved the transfer of the Carnival Inspiration from the Ege Celik yard to the neighboring Metas yard, a ship recycling facility recently acquired by Ege Celik but not yet part of the EU list of facilities that had been inspected and added to the approved list.

The recent tragedy is another reminder of how dangerous ship recycling can be said the NGO highlighting the incident. In the last ten months, they report that the Turkish ship recycling industry has been hit by other serious accidents. Two workers lost their lives at two separate yards that are included in the EU List of approved ship recycling facilities. Since 1992, the year when an explosion cost the lives of seven workers at Ege Celik, the group says local reports indicate at least 47 occupational deaths in Aliaga.

"The causes of the accidents have sadly remained the same over the last 30 years,” said NGO Shipbreaking Platform. “Workers, however, also fall sick and die of occupational diseases many years after being exposed to toxins. Cancer rates in Aliaga are much higher than the Turkish average.”

NGO Shipbreaking also expresses concern that as more ships are being sent to the Turkish yards that it puts additional pressure on the yards and their employees increasing the risk for accidents. 

"The heaping up of ships in Aliaga must not compromise OHS management,” said Ingvild Jenssen, Executive Director and Founder of the NGO. “To reduce the current pressure on Aliaga, the EU needs to boost additional capacity in line with the European Green Deal. There are many ships to scrap in the coming years and those seeking sustainable solutions need more options."