Asian shipyards under pressure as many die breaking down ships

When it comes to jobs that workers in rich Western countries don’t want, there are few more dirty and dangerous than scrapping the world’s freighters, luxury liners and oil tankers.

Explosions and fires kill scores of poorly equipped workers each year in South Asia where most ships are broken apart. The region’s beaches are littered with rusting vessels, staining the sands with oils and other chemicals but companies are under growing pressure to protect workers and the environment. Governments will meet Monday in Hong Kong to consider approving the International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, which aims to make the industry safer and greener.
During the five-day meeting, countries are expected to agree on measures that require new ships to limit the amounts of hazardous materials they’re built with and require older ships to be broken down in yards that meet certain environmental standards. The convention is also expected to require recycling facilities to put in place measures that reduce explosions and other accidents as well ensuring workers are properly trained and provided with safety equipment such as gloves, goggles and face masks.

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