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Suicides aboard ships are rising at an unprecedented rate. Are we doing enough to help mariners in mental distress at sea?
Two workers at a Turkish shipbreaking yard have died following an accident dismantling a Carnival cruise ship, according to an industry watchdog.
The NGO Shipbreaking Platform reports that the accident occurred on July 12 as workers were dismantling the Carnival Inspiration at a ship recycling yard in Alia?a, Turkey. The group says that while details of the incident are unclear, the two workers were killed when they were “suddenly caught by flames” after the fire supposedly broke out in the engine room.
The Platform points out that the Carnival Inspiration was initially bought by Ege Çelik, a yard on the EU list of approved ship recycling facilities, although the ship was later moved to Metas, a ship recycling facility recently acquired by Ege Çelik but not yet part of the EU list.
“The recent tragedy is another sad reminder of how dangerous ship recycling can be,” the NGO Shipbreaking Platform said in a statement. “In the last ten?months, the Turkish ship recycling industry has been hit by other?serious accidents. Two workers lost their lives at two separate yards that are included in the?EU List of approved ship recycling facilities.”
According to the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, Alia?a has seen a sharp increase in the number ships being sold for scrap as shipowners shy away from South Asia’s beaching yards. Based on figures from the Turkish Environment Ministry, 714 ships have been dismantled in Alia?a in the last five years.
“The heaping up of ships in Alia?a must not compromise OHS management,” said Ingvild Jenssen, Executive Director and Founder of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform. “Platform Cruise ships are notoriously complex structures full of compartments and potentially deadly hazards that require a skilled workforce and time to take apart. To reduce the current pressure on Alia?a, the EU needs to boost additional capacity in the EU in line with the European Green Deal. There are many ships to scrap in the coming years and those seeking sustainable solutions need more options.”
Since 1992, when a big explosion cost the lives of seven workers at Ege Çelik, local NGOs?have reported?at least 47 occupational deaths in Alia?a, according to the Platform. Exposure to toxins, such as asbestos, is also a serious concern.
“The causes of the accidents have sadly remained the same over the last 30 years,” said Asli Odman, Academic and Volunteer at the Istanbul Health and Safety Labour Watch. “Workers, however, also fall sick and die of occupational diseases many years after being exposed to toxics. Cancer rates in Alia?a are much higher than the Turkish average.”
“Europe needs to take the lead in demanding higher standards and should no longer assume that conditions are satisfactory just because they are seemingly compliant on paper,” added Odman.
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