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Global coalition calls for halt to Vancouver Island shipbreaking operation

Belgium-based group joins lobby concerned about the demolition of old ships in Union Bay
Deep Water Recovery Ltd. owns a ship-breaking company in Union Bay. File photo

A global coalition that advocates for clean and safe ship recycling has penned a letter to authorities in B.C. and Ottawa, as well as rural directors in the CVRD, calling for a halt to activities at Deep Water Recovery in Union Bay.

Based in Brussels, Belgium, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform represents 17 human rights and environment organizations worldwide.

“We do not consider that the landing of vessels onto shores that are unable to contain the many hazardous materials onboard and embedded within the ships’ structures, as currently happening at Union Bay, is a sustainable or acceptable way of recycling ships,” states Ingvild Jenssen, executive director of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform. The Jan. 11 letter is co-signed by Jim Puckett, executive director of the Basel Action Network, an advocate for environmental justice.

They say shipbreaking activities conducted without full containment can pollute land, water and air because ships invariably contain harmful materials in their paints, gaskets, flooring, insulation and fire retardancy materials, and need to be emptied of residue oils.

“Recent studies have shown how unregulated scrapping can cause carcinogenic air pollution, loss of marine biodiversity and soil contamination. Furthermore, lack of proper infrastructure and access to emergency equipment puts the lives of workers at risk in case of an accident during the dismantling process.”

The letter also notes the proximity of scrapping activities to homes in Union Bay, and to the ecologically sensitive area of Baynes that contains shellfish, birds and herring.

“It is clear that Deep Water Recovery Ltd. is not operating in line with international requirements for the safe and environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes. Vessels can only be recycled in a safe and environmentally sound manner at proper industrial sites that ensure a contained environment with impermeable flooring and drainage systems.”

READ: Concerned Citizens of Baynes Sound want answers about shipbreaking

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