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North Sea Producer ship breaking, Bangladesh

Violating international law, Maersk ship containing radiation ends up on the beach of Bangladesh for breaking purposes; import and export being investigated by United Kingdom and Bangladesh authorities


The conflict arose due to importation of a ship called North Sea Producer for breaking purposes to the coast of Bangladesh in Sitakunda.  In addition to other toxins, a ship as that of North Sea Producer is bound to contain asbestos and radioactive materials in the form of NORM- naturally occurring radioactive materials, the management of which is clearly beyond the capacity of the country.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:North Sea Producer ship breaking, Bangladesh
State or province:N/A
Location of conflict:Sitakunda
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Waste Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Ship-breaking yards
Specific commodities:Industrial waste
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The vessel North Sea Producer (IMO NO 8124058) was jointly owned by an equal share of Danish Shipping Giant Maersk and Odebrecht. It was built as oil tanker in 1984 at Odense Steel Shipyard-Odense, Denmark. In 1996-97, the ship was converted into a Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel. After serving for more than 33 years, the vessel was sold off in 2016 as MT. Producer to Janata Steel Corporation (Ship Breaking Yard), Chittagong, Bangladesh breaking purposes.The vessel weighed 52,000-tonne and was sold to the yard owner in a record price of $ 6,169,971.

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Level of Investment:6,169,971 USD
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:300,000
Start of the conflict:22/11/2016
Company names or state enterprises:Maersk from Denmark
Janata Steel Corporation from Bangladesh
Relevant government actors:Ministries of Industries, Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Commerce,
Labour and Employment; Bangladesh Atomic Energy, Bangladesh Chittagong Port Authority; Department of Environment; Department of Explosives; Bangladesh Coast Guard; Office of the Deputy Commissioner, Chittagong district; Chittagong Customs; Chief Inspector of Factories & Establishment; Mercantile Marine Department
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA)
NGO Shipbreaking Platform
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local ejos
Forms of mobilization:Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Oil spills, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Other Environmental impacts
Other Environmental impactsSince the vessel contained NORM and the breaking of it already started, it is very much possible that the laborers and surrounding area were exposed to radiation contamination.
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Malnutrition, Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Other Health impactsWhat health impacts are inflicted on the laborers who were engaged in breaking the ship before the same was stopped vide court order on...are yet to be known
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Court decision (undecided)
Application of existing regulations
Project temporarily suspended
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:The legal battles are not over yet. Again, it will be argued by the importer that since the vessel has been beached and partly dismantled, sending it back to the exporter is not the most practical solution. Also, in the absence of proper address, finding out the agency that has certified the vessel to be clean and safe for import and hence imposing sanction on such dubious and perhaps non-existent entities will be very difficult.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Atomic Energy Regulation Act, 2012;
[click to view]

Bangladesh Nuclear Safety and Radiation Control Rules, 1997;

The Ship Breaking and Recycling Rules, 2011;

The Hazardous Wastes and Ship Breaking Wastes Management Rules, 2011;

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, 1989;

Import Policy Order, 2015-2018
[click to view]

The Right to Information Act, 2009;
[click to view]

The Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act, 1995 (Act No. I of 1995);
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

The Daily Star
[click to view]
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Syeda Rizwana Hasan, Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA), [email protected]
Last update18/08/2019
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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