The 31,0000 ton oil carrier, Gulf Jash, a ship previously known as Probo Koala, was banned from entering Bangladesh for ship breaking for environmental safety reasons. The tanker is believed to contain hazardous asbestos, PCBs, toxic paints, and chemical residues. In 2006, Probo Koala caused the death of 16 people in Ivory Coast when it dumped toxic chemicals along the country’s coastline.A hazard inherent to ship-breaking is the tremendous risk of asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a highly toxic mineral fiber that was used in the building of boats throughout the 19th and 20th centuries The use of asbestos has been banned in most developed nations for causing such serious illnesses as asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma, a rare cancer of the protective lining of the body’s major organs and cavities. However, asbestos has not been banned in most Asian countries, making them popular breaking destinations for toxic boats.
Now it is feared that the Gulf Jash is headed for India’s Gujarat Port en route to the Alang ship-breaking yard. Dismantling ships is one of the most polluting industries in the world. Ship breaking workers are regularly exposed to carcinogens, and in Asia, they are rarely provided proper safety equipment. Inhaling asbestos on a daily basis is the sole cause of pleural mesothelioma, a cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, and a disease prevalent among shipyard workers.
Health and safety experts say that countries such as Indian and Bangladesh will continue to be the dumping grounds for toxic ships until laws are put in place requiring that all ships be dismantled in their country of origin