Toxic Trade News / 5 April 2006
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Scrapping of British ship: WWF wants damage assessed
by Maqbool Ahmed, Daily Times (Lahore, Pakistan)
5 April 2006 (Karachi) – WWF-Pakistan has asked the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) to investigate the amount of hazardous chemicals or asbestos thrown away in the environment due to the breaking of the Sir Geriant and other ships, Daily Times has learnt.

Quoting a report that appeared in the UK’s ‘The Sunday Telegraph’ on March 19 and follow-up reports published in Pakistani newspapers, Hammad Naqi Khan, director of the WWF-Pakistan Freshwater and Toxics Programme, said in a letter to the Pak-EPA DG that after the Sir Geriant was dismantled at the Gadani shipyard, a massive quantity of asbestos was found dumped along the coastal areas of Lasbella district in Balochistan.

Drawing the DG Pak-EPA’s attention towards what he termed “devastating activities” being carried out at the Gadani shipyard, Naqi said that the breaking of Sir Geraint was indirectly a violation of the Basel Convention to which Pakistan was a signatory. “We request the Pak-EPA to investigate the amount of hazardous chemicals or asbestos that was thrown away in the environment due to the breaking of the Sir Geriant and other ships. We also request the promotion of safe and healthy measures for people associated with the ship-breaking industry.”

The WWW-P director hoped that the Pak-EPA would take strong and appropriate action against the devastating ship-breaking activities. He also proposed a strategy on behalf of the WWF-P to work in close collaboration with the Pak-EPA to address the issues of international conventions and awareness among the Pakistan Ship-Breaking Association and customs authorities about environmental legislation.

He further proposed that only ships that are documented by the ship owner at the country of export be scrapped, besides awareness among workers on safety measures be created and workers capacity at the Gadani shipyard be enhanced to ensure safe work practices.

Naqi also proposed the formation of an independent committee consisting of stakeholders and trade union leaders to visit ship-breaking yards and present a report on the adequacy of the environmental and worker-welfare norms that are being followed there.

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