Polish government-owned shipping company Polsteam is facing fierce criticism from European environmental organizations for its poor shipbreaking practices.
Being a member of the European Union, which disqualifies shipbreaking on tidal beaches as environmentally sound and safe, Poland is obliged to adhere to these principles.
However, as informed by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, Polsteam has already this year sold three end-of-life vessels to South Asian beaching yards. These included bulk carriers Armia Ludowa and Polska Walczaca that were sold to Bangladesh breakers where shipbreaking is globally acknowledged not to respect even minimum human rights and environmental standards.
As a result, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform and the European Environmental Bureau, and the more than 160 environmental, human and labour rights organisations they represent, together with Polish NGOs Fundacja Instytut na rzecz Ekorozwoju and Towarzystwo na Rzecz Ziemi, have sent a letter to Polsteam asking the company, and the government, to change its practices.
“As an EU Member State owned shipping company, Polsteam should set an example and adhere to a ship recycling policy that is in line with EU standards and legislation. It is a disgrace to have a Polish state owned company listed amongst the top dumpers of toxic end-of-life ships on the beaches of developing countries,” said Patrizia Heidegger, Executive Director of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform.
The shipping company is undergoing a fleet replacement and investment program for the years 2015 to 2020 and still owns at least 15 vessels built in the 1990s that are likely candidates for scrapping in the next couple of years.
“The NGO Shipbreaking Platform has constructively consulted with many responsible owners of vessels and has together with these companies identified sustainable solutions for clean and safe ship recycling. We would be glad to exchange with Polsteam about available solutions. Poland has lots of dormant capacity for ship recycling, its laid-down shipbuilding industry could be converted to modern ship recycling facilities ,” said Patrizia Heidegger.
Since 2009, Polsteam has sold 13 end-of-life vessels for dirty and dangerous shipbreaking in South Asia. None of the South Asian yards meet the requirements of the new EU Regulation on Ship Recycling.