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Ship Breaking Yard

Bangladesh is very dependent on ship breaking for its domestic steel requirements. Along the southeast coast of Bangladesh these ship breaking yards are situated, where immense ocean freighters and tankers are torn apart by hundreds of gritty, lean, strong, bronze-skinned men--by sheer manual labor. The ship breaking industry is not subject to any environmental laws or health and safety regulations for workers. Chittagong ship breaking yards are polluting the coastal belt for more than 20 km. The number of accidents and casualties at the yards is believed to be the highest in the region.

High concentrations of oil and other toxics were found in water and sediments. Soil samples show high levels of toxic substances such as heavy metals, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and tributv1 tin (TBT). Most fishermen in the region were forced to change their profession due to economical and environmental reasons. They migrated or found a job in and around the ship-breaking yard.

Ship breaking yard workers come from different parts of Bangladesh. The workers work there day and night by shifts. Outside the yard there are some slum type dwellings for the workers. Every 2 hours they get 10 minutes break for tea. Some children from near villages come here to work to just get a square meal. High toxic levels and hard work make the shipyard people’s longevity shorter and health poorer.

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© All photograph right reserved by Naymuzzaman Prince.