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Ferry owners accused of illegal ship-breaking

Another European passenger ship is alleged to have been sent to be scrapped in a non-OECD ship-breaking yard in contravention of EU regulations.

According to the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, the roll-on/roll-off ferry Princess left Katakolon in Greece in July and arrived on 22 August at Chattogram in Bangladesh, where it is expected to be beached.

‘Despite the fact that competent authorities were alerted in May that the ship was heading for scrap, the unit was allowed to leave European territorial waters,’ says the platform. ‘Before its departure, the new owners changed the flag of the vessel from Cyprus to Togo, and then from Togo to Comoros, in what is a typical preparatory step prior substandard breaking.’

Campaigners argue elderly vessels such as the Princess, which was built in 1974, typically contain hazardous materials including asbestos. Conditions at ship-breaking yards in Bangladesh are notorious, resulting in high incidences of worker fatality and injury and damage to local communities and the environment. It is also illegal.

‘According to the EU Waste Shipment Regulation, the Basel Convention and equivalent national laws, the export of end-of-life ships laden with asbestos and other toxic materials from Greece to non-OECD countries is banned,’ says Ingvild Jenssen, executive director and founder of Shipbreaking Platform. ‘We therefore urge Greek authorities to immediately call the vessel back for safe and environmentally sound recycling in line with Greece’s obligations under environmental legislation.’

The NGO says the Princess most recently performed ferry activities between Italy and Greece under the control of Greek company A-Ships Management. It claims Interpol has issued a formal alert to Bangladesh authorities not to allow the import of the ship. In Chattogram, a legal notice challenging the beaching of the vessel has just been issued by the Platform’s member organisation Bela.

Recycling International has asked A-Ships Management for a response.

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