The issue of safe ship breaking practices has come to the fore with the un ban on single hulled oil tankers coming into force from April 12, 2005. These tankers have a single steel layer separating their cargo from the sea and pollute more if the ship is damaged compared to those with double hulls.
The current phase-out under the amended un International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships is based on the ships' age. Those built before 1977 and with specific types of cargo tank structures were grounded from April 12. Others will go in the next five years as they reach the 26-year-old mark. By 2010, all will be abolished. Environmental group Greenpeace says the phase-out erroneously doesn't prescribe safe ship breaking procedures. Toxic vessels may be dumped on the beaches of India and Bangladesh, the world's biggest ship scrap markets. "Workers in India and China break up European vessels...with no protection from explosions, asbestos and a cocktail of toxic chemicals contained within the ships," it warns.
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