Impact of Ship Breaking on the Bay of Bengal

Ship Breaking:

The disposal of ships for separating parts for the purpose of either selling or reuse, or to exploit raw materials, mainly scrap, is known as ship breaking or ship dismantling. It permits the ship materials, mainly steel to be recycled and further used for new products  (Wikipedia, 2020).

The Bay of Bengal:

The Bay of Bengal, the largest basin in the world, possesses a region of 2,172,000 km². Shape of Bay of Bengal is funnel shaped triangular geographic setting. The bay is surrounded by the most part by India and Sri Lanka toward the west, Bangladesh toward the north, and Burma (Myanmar) and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands toward the east (Bluebird Marine Systems, 2020).



Map: Region of Bay of Bengal

Source: Bluebird Marine Systems, 2020

Palk Straits, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Mottama Bay, Manar Bay, Mergui Islands, Andaman Sea, and part of the Malacca Strait are located here. Science in the 10th century, after the name of Bengal it has been known as the Bay of Bengal. The Bay is encircled by 13 Ramsar destinations from five nations (Bhandari & Nakamura, 2016).


Ship Breaking Activity on the Bay of Bengal:

In South Asia, ship breaking is concentrating in three places, Alang and Sosiya on the west coast in the State of Gujarat, India; Chittagong on the shores of Sitakund on Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh; and Gadani in Karachi, Pakistan. The shipbreaking industry of Bangladesh has caught the 1st position in the worldwide market by destroying around 47.2% of world vessels. Three nations, Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan, represent 70–80% of the global recycling market for maritime vessels. As indicated by the report, in 2018, India destroyed 25.6% and Pakistan 21.5% of maritime vessels (Hussain, 2019).


Impact of Ship Breaking on the Bay of Bengal:

Although ship breaking has gained a good reputation for being a profitable industry in developing countries it annoys the least Environmental hazards and human health. Shipbreaking activities contaminate the coastal soil and ocean water environment primarily through the release of ammonia, burned oil spillage, floatable grease balls, metal rust (iron), and numerous alternative disposable refuse materials alongside high muddiness of ocean water (Hoq et. al. 2011).

Pollutants Discharged from Ship Breaking and Their Impacts on the Bay of Bengal:

Shipbreaking industry is one of the most profitable in developing countries but t but it has many health and human dangers. In reality, it depends on the size and function of the vessel. Ship scrap usually weighs between 5000-40000 tonnes. From a yard, the owner can get 95% steel, 10 to 100 tons of paint, tin, arsenic, zinc, cadmium and chromium. Not only does the vessel create our assets but also tons of massive asbestos waste of various kinds, thousands of conditioner oils also contain up to 1,000 cubic meters of stretched oil. Most of these resources have been identified as unsafe waste. Vessels containing these supply-cut materials, on open beaches, are creatures without any consideration of the activities of a safe and environmentally friendly waste disposal organization. This activity is a real threat to public health and the marine environment (Jobaid, Khan, Haque, & Shawon, 2014).

Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP’s): Persistent Organic Pollutants are harmful to the environment, population, and wildlife the chemicals are very toxic and long-lasting for the environment. It has also biologically distributed and accumulates in the whole fat tissue of the living organism. Doctors and physicians have realized that these pollutants can adversely affect the human body and increased cancer (Jobaid, Khan, Haque, & Shawon, 2014).

Asbestos: As a heat insulator asbestos was used in old ships. At some point, we may think that asbestos is not in the disposal procedure but during the scarping there are workers around asbestos fibers. Exposure to this fiber is very harmful and can even lead to cancer. It is true that asbestos flies around the shipbreaking beaches and that workers take this chemical out with bare hands. In addition, it has been proven to be one of the most lethal, as inhaled asbestos fibers can guide a wide range of pulmonary complications such as asthma and asbestos and can also be the direct cause of mesothelioma (Jobaid, Khan, Haque, & Shawon, 2014).

Heavy metals: Heavy metals are derived from many parts of the vessel such as in coatings, paints, coatings, positive electrode devices, and positive electrode devices. They are used outside without defensive measures in place and reused. The result is skin cancer, lung cancer, bowel, liver, kidney, or bladder. It may also cause damage to blood vessels (Jobaid, Khan, Haque, & Shawon, 2014).

Oil pollution: When a ship has broken in the yard, the oil residue is damaged and mixed with seawater. This oil is actually very harmful to the environment and marine life. It can cause serious damage in different ways, such as reducing the intensity of light below the surface of the sea. Oil on seawater reduces oxygen and carbon dioxide in the marine interface. It also causes reduced birds in coastal areas. Therefore, frequent spills can cause widespread death among fish, mollusks, mammals, worms, crabs, and other aquatic organisms (Jobaid, Khan, Haque, & Shawon, 2014).

Impact of ship breaking on physiochemical properties of seawater:

Through it is clear that these shaving operations damage the environment in coastal areas. Because of that toxic ammonia concentration, marine organisms found in this area have an increase in PH levels. Higher DO and BOD are found with large amounts of floating materials (grease and oil film). In ship breaking areas, many reusable materials are discharged and spilled from the discarded vessels and often mixed with sand. The debris from the ship is placed in a confusing way at the coast. These activities together with the common mechanical and human activities take place as a routine work taking place in beach land behind its binding properties and this increases the rate of wear and tear. of the shoreline and increase the turbidity of water and sediments in the area (Jobaid, Khan, Haque, & Shawon, 2014)


Impacts of shipbreaking on biodiversity:

Shipbreaking activities pollute coastal and marine water environments and thus ecological settings. The problem is mainly related to ammonia discharge, burning oil spills, floating grease balls and metal rust (iron), and many other types of disposable waste material along with the high turbidity of seawater. The pH of seawater and soil is high may be due to the addition of ammonia, oil, and lubricant. In addition, oil spills can cause serious damage by reducing light intensity, inhibiting oxygen, and carbon dioxide exchange of sea-air interface and acute toxicity. As a result, the growth and abundance of marine life, especially plankton and fish, can be seriously affected. Therefore, the indiscriminate expansion of shipbreaking activities poses a potential threat to the coastal floodplain area and its habitat (Hossain and Islam, 2006).

  1. Primary productivity: Productivity is the basis of a marine food chain, supporting diverse marine life. Pollution caused by shipbreaking activities that severely hinder major productivity. Floating oil Extensive area of ​​light penetration inhibits photosynthesis. Reduction in photosynthesis results in lower primary productivity (Islam and Hossain, 1986).
  2. Phytoplankton: Phytoplankton is a major food producer of aquatic habitats and plays an important role in the food chain. Phytoplankton is often considered the best indicator of biology productivity. Phytoplankton makes their food by photosynthesis by sunlight. Phytoplankton under reduced light intensity, underneath the oil film, inhibits photosynthesis. Abundance and appearance in number as well as species is very poor in shipbreaking areas compared to the control area.

iii. Zooplankton: Small floating animals floating in the water are collectively called zooplankton and on it the entire aquatic life depends directly or indirectly. They are mainly governed by interactions of some physical, chemical and biological conditions of the ocean. Zooplankton is very sensitive to optimum conditions, so coastal pollution due to possible ship breaking activities have a profound effect on its existence and occurrence. Conducted an investigation to compare the appearance and distribution of affected plankton location and control of shipbreaking areas. The results show that the abundance is relatively low zooplankton in the affected area (Siddiquee, 2004).

  1. Benthos: The benthic organisms that play an important role in the food chain (such as fish food) are closely related to the benthic community. The richness and distribution of benthos are affected by soil properties as well as organic matter retained in the soil. A few organic matter is found in soil samples from ship breaking areas (DNV, 2001), as a result in the relatively low occurrence of benthos in the intertidal area of ​​the ship breaking area (Siddiquee, 2004).


  1. Impacts on fish species diversity: The area of fisheries resources seem to be affected by the ship breaking activities as revealed by increasing fishing effort, reducing species diversity, increasing the amount of waste fish (Siddiquee, 2004).


Expert Suggestions for Safe Ship Recycling:

Some expert views and suggestions regarding safe ship recycling and reducing the environmental hazards have been shown in Tables 1 and 2 below (Hossain, 2015).


Major risks Mitigation method/ suggestions
Exposure to Hazardous materials a. Use of personal protective equipment like gloves, goggles, apron, and mask.

b. Workers training on the safe handling of Hazmat.

c. Use of appropriate procedures and equipment.

d. Environmentally sound storage and management of Hazmat.

e. Health monitoring.

f. Training.

Falling from height a. Use of safety belt, harness, etc.

b. Training.

Heavy materials falling from a height on workers a. Ship recycling plan.

b. Communication of daily work plan.

c. Mark areas as off-limit where cutting work at height are carried out.

d. Use of PPE like the helmet, face shield, etc.

e. Avoid free dropping of objects from height using a crane.

f. Training.

Accidents related to confined space a. Ensure space is safe for entry.

b. Ensure confined space free of toxic gas.

c. Ensure the permissible level of oxygen.

d. Ensure adequate ventilation.

e. Ensure adequate lighting.

f. Training.

Fire and explosion a. Ensure the working area safe for hot work.

b. The area is appropriately ventilated.

c. Mark areas not safe for hot action.

d. Maintain gas-free and safe for hot work status until work is completed

e. Training.

Cuts and bruises a. Use safety shoes, gloves & other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

b. Use of magnetic crane for lifting.

c. Training.

Injury-related to torch cutting a. Ensure the area fit for hot work.

b. Remove flammable material before cutting.

c. Use protective goggles, shield, and gloves.

d. Use of torch with a long handle.

e. Training.

Table 1: Suggestions regarding health & safety issues.


Pollutants Mitigation/ Suggestions
Asbestos a. Wet asbestos and asbestos-containing materials before removal.

b. Remove in big pieces to minimize the formation of airborne particles.

c. Cover with suitable lick proof material.

d. Bury underground.

e. Training.

Ozone-depleting substances a. Collection by a trained contractor with an appropriate collector.

b. Store/reuse in a safe manner.

c. Training.

Polychlorinated hydrocarbon a. Incineration.

b. Training.

Radioactive material a. Store inadequate conditions by the appropriate authority.

b. Training.

Heavy metals a. Store in sealed lick proofed container.

b. Training.

Bilge and oily water mixture a. Separation of oil and water by using oil-water separator

b. Reuse/incinerate recovered oil.

c. Training.

Cargo residues a. Treatment depends on the nature of Cargo.

b. Training.

Sludge a. Recover with a mixture of sand and oil for reuse in the brickfield.

b. Relevant training

Table 2: Suggestions regarding the Handling of Hazardous Materials.



  1. (2020, June 9). Ship breaking. Retrieved June 20, 2020, from
  2. Bluebird Marine Systems. (2020). BAY OF BENGAL. Retrieved June 17, 2020, from
  3. Bhandari, B. B., & Nakamura, R. (2016). The Bay of Bengal: A Forgotten S. The Proceeding of the Symposium on the Bay of Bengal. Yangoon, Myanmar.
  4. Hussain, A. (2019, November 14). Bangladesh secures top position in ship breaking. Retrieved June 18, 2020, from
  5. Hoq, M.E., A.K. Yousuf Haroon and M.G. Hussain (eds.). 2011. Ecosystem Health and Management of Pollution in the Bay of Bengal. Support to Sustainable Management of the Bay of Bengal Large Marine Ecosystem (BOBLME) Project, Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute, Bangladesh. 84 p.
  6. Jobaid, M. I., Khan, M. M., Haque, A. K., & Shawon, I. A. (2014). Ship Recycling and Its Environmental Impact: A Brief Overview of Bangladesh. IOSR Journal of Business and Management (IOSR-JBM), 16(10), 32-37.
  7. M. Hossain and M. M. Islam. 2006. Ship Breaking Activities and its Impact on the coastal zone of Chittagong, Bangladesh: Towards Sustainable Management. Young Power in Social Action (YPSA), Chittagong, Bangladesh. pp ix + 54
  8. Islam, K.L., and Hossain, M.M.1986. Effect of Ship Scrapping on the soil and sea environment in the coastal area of Chittagong, Bangladesh. Mar. Poll. Bull,
  9. Siddiquee, N.A. 2004. Impact of ship breaking on marine fish diversity of the Bay of Bengal.DFIDSUFER Project, Dhaka, Bangladesh. pp 46
  10. Hossain KA (2015) Overview of Ship Recycling Industry of Bangladesh. J Environ Anal Toxicol 5: 312. DOI:4172/2161-0525.1000312

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