Icelandic shipping company Eimskip, one of the largest businesses in the country, used a notorious middleman to dispose of two huge container vessels in India. In doing so, it circumvented European regulation meant to ensure that ships are recycled with the least possible damage to the environment. At least 137 people have died breaking down old ships on the coast where Eimskip sent its old container vessels due to dangerous working conditions. Icelandic news program Kveikur investigated the case.
Once their life on the sea is over, ships are immediately classified as hazardous waste due to the materials they contain, such as asbestos, radioactive materials, heavy metals, and hydraulic oil. European ship recycling facilities have measures in place to ensure such materials are recycled or disposed of safely, with as little damage as possible to the environment and to workers. Such is far from the case in shipbreaking yards in Southeast Asia, where dangerous working conditions and environmental damage are par for the course. This is where Eimskip sent two huge container vessels, Goðafoss and Laxafoss.
The full program is available on Kveikur’s website with English subtitles.