The Horizon Trader, a 42 year-old US flagged container ship that was acquired by New York-listed shipping company Matson when they purchased Horizon Lines in 2014 was beached at a notorious shipbreaking site in Alang, India.
The ship contains hazardous materials, making its export and final voyage from the US to India illegal waste trafficking under the United Nations Basel Convention, non-profit organisation Basel Action Network (BAN) said. Since the ship was built in the 1970’s before PCB-bans, the ship likely contains polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a persistent organic pollutant that accumulates in soil, water, and food webs.
According to BAN, the ship arrived in Alang on Dec 30, 2015, and was beached on Jan. 8, 2016.
“As for the Horizon Trader, together with the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, we call on the Government of India to refloat the vessel and repatriate the ship to the U.S. to uphold their obligations under the Basel Convention.
We also call on the US Government to disallow export to developing countries without a thorough PCB study conducted by the government, at the exporter’s expense,” BAN said.
Beaching yards in India are notorious for their poor working conditions jeopardizing workers’ health and safety. Workers are also exposed to a slew of toxins like lead, asbestos, oil sludge, bilge water, and PCBs.
Matson sold the vessel to Texas-based All Star Metals in January 2015 expecting that All Star would properly recycle it at their facility. However, Horizon Trader was authorized for export to the shipbreaking yards in India, despite initial agreement that stipulated that the buyer would responsibly recycle the vessel in the U.S.
Following the incident, Matson agreed to prohibit scrapping its vessels on the beaches of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan in the future. The company has 23 vessels in the Matson fleet that will require scrapping in the next few years.