North Sea Producer ship breaking, Bangladesh

Violating international law, Maersk ship containing radiation ends up on the beach of Bangladesh for breaking purposes; import and export being investigated by United Kingdom and Bangladesh authorities


The conflict arose due to importation of a ship called North Sea Producer for breaking purposes to the coast of Bangladesh in Sitakunda.  In addition to other toxins, a ship as that of North Sea Producer is bound to contain asbestos and radioactive materials in the form of NORM- naturally occurring radioactive materials, the management of which is clearly beyond the capacity of the country.

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Basic Data
NameNorth Sea Producer ship breaking, Bangladesh
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Waste Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Ship-breaking yards
Specific CommoditiesIndustrial waste
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe vessel North Sea Producer (IMO NO 8124058) was jointly owned by an equal share of Danish Shipping Giant Maersk and Odebrecht. It was built as oil tanker in 1984 at Odense Steel Shipyard-Odense, Denmark. In 1996-97, the ship was converted into a Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel. After serving for more than 33 years, the vessel was sold off in 2016 as MT. Producer to Janata Steel Corporation (Ship Breaking Yard), Chittagong, Bangladesh breaking purposes.The vessel weighed 52,000-tonne and was sold to the yard owner in a record price of $ 6,169,971.

The vessel is now lying in the yard in Sitakunda Upazila in Chittagong district owned by one Janata Steel Corporation.
Level of Investment (in USD)6,169,971 USD
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population300,000
Start Date22/11/2016
Company Names or State EnterprisesMaersk from Denmark
Janata Steel Corporation from Bangladesh
Relevant government actorsMinistries of Industries, Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Commerce,

Labour and Employment; Bangladesh Atomic Energy, Bangladesh Chittagong Port Authority; Department of Environment; Department of Explosives; Bangladesh Coast Guard; Office of the Deputy Commissioner, Chittagong district; Chittagong Customs; Chief Inspector of Factories & Establishment; Mercantile Marine Department
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersBangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA)

NGO Shipbreaking Platform
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingInternational ejos
Local ejos
Forms of MobilizationInvolvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Oil spills, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Other Environmental impacts
OtherSince the vessel contained NORM and the breaking of it already started, it is very much possible that the laborers and surrounding area were exposed to radiation contamination.
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Malnutrition, Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
OtherWhat health impacts are inflicted on the laborers who were engaged in breaking the ship before the same was stopped vide court order on...are yet to be known
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (victory for environmental justice)
Court decision (undecided)
Application of existing regulations
Project temporarily suspended
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.The legal battles are not over yet. Again, it will be argued by the importer that since the vessel has been beached and partly dismantled, sending it back to the exporter is not the most practical solution. Also, in the absence of proper address, finding out the agency that has certified the vessel to be clean and safe for import and hence imposing sanction on such dubious and perhaps non-existent entities will be very difficult.
Sources and Materials

The Right to Information Act, 2009;
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Atomic Energy Regulation Act, 2012;
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The Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act, 1995 (Act No. I of 1995);
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Bangladesh Nuclear Safety and Radiation Control Rules, 1997;

The Ship Breaking and Recycling Rules, 2011;

The Hazardous Wastes and Ship Breaking Wastes Management Rules, 2011;

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, 1989;

Import Policy Order, 2015-2018
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The Daily Star
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Other Documents

MT Producer
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MT Producer (Ship Breaking)
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Meta Information
ContributorSyeda Rizwana Hasan, Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA), [email protected]
Last update17/12/2018