Ship Breaking

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Ship breaking or ship demolition is a type of ship disposal involving the breaking up of ships for scrap recycling, with the hulls being discarded in ship graveyards. Most ships have a lifespan of a few decades before there is so much wear that refitting and repair becomes uneconomical. Ship breaking allows materials from the ship, especially steel, to be reused. Equipment on board the vessel can also be reused. Until the late 20th century, ship breaking took place in port cities of industrialized countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States. Today, most ship breaking yards are in Alang in India, Chittagong in Bangladesh, Aliaga in Turkey and near Karachi in Pakistan, due to lower labor costs and less stringent environmental regulations dealing with the disposal of lead paint and other toxic substances. Some "breakers" still remain in the United States which work primarily on government surplus vessels. There are also some in Dubai, UAE for tankers. China used to be an important player in the 1990s. It is now trying to reposition itself in more environmentally friendly industries. In addition to steel and other useful materials, however, ships (particularly older vessels) can contain many substances that are banned or considered dangerous in developed countries. Asbestos and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are typical examples. Asbestos was used heavily in ship construction until it was finally banned in most of the developed world in the mid 1980s. Currently, the costs associated with removing asbestos, along with the potentially expensive insurance and health risks, have meant that ship-breaking in most developed countries is no longer economically viable. Removing the metal for scrap can potentially cost more than the value of the scrap metal itself. In the developing world, however, shipyards can operate without the risk of personal injury lawsuits or workers' health claims, meaning many of these shipyards may operate with high health risks. Protective equipment is sometimes absent or inadequate. Dangerous vapors and fumes from burning materials can be inhaled, and dusty asbestos-laden areas are commonplace. Aside from the health of the yard workers, in recent years, ship breaking has also become an issue of major environmental concern. Many ship breaking yards in developing nations have lax or no environmental law, enabling large quantities of highly toxic materials to escape into the environment and causing serious health problems among ship breakers, the local population and wildlife. Environmental campaign groups such as Greenpeace have made the issue a high priority for their campaigns. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]







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