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CUT & DISK: We will fight to prevent the damage caused by asbestos

A ship containing asbestos waste poses threat to environment and working communities

Brasilian and Turkish trade unions made a joint statement about the warship Nea São Paulo. “Together, CUT and DISK declare that we will fight to prevent the damage caused by asbestos and the dismantling processes to workers, public health, and the environment.”

“A ship containing toxic waste is on the verge of being sent from Brazil to Turkey, where it will put the lives of workers and others in their community at risk. Workers’ unions CUT (Brazil) and DISK (Turkey) oppose this move and commit to intensify the fight…”

Building on the UN Human Rights Council Resolution (2021), which recognizes the right of human beings to live a life free from exposure to deadly toxins and the ILO’s plans to make the right to a safe and healthy work environment a fundamental human right, we express our concern about the presence of a ship loaded with asbestos and other hazardous chemicals.

The ship in question is the ex-warship Foch, used by the French Navy in the past and sold to Brazil in September 2000, changing its name to Nea São Paulo. Unused, the ship was acquired on May 12, 2021, by the Rio de Janeiro company Cormack Marítima, through an auction representing the Turkish ship-breaking company Sok Denizcilik, for a meagre price and is being prepared to be towed to Turkey with the aim of being dismantled at the İzmir Aliağa shipyard, in Turkey.

The ship contains large amounts of toxic material, such as asbestos and oil residues, the disposal of which must be carried out safely and in a manner which respects the environment. It is estimated that it contains 900 tons of asbestos, but the amount of toxic materials on the ship is not known with certainty. It is also unclear whether the buyers themselves have this information which is crucial to measuring the actual cost of its dismantling.

The İzmir Aliağa shipyard, where the Nea São Paulo ship is planned to be dismantled into scrap, does not have the conditions needed for this job, in addition to having poor working conditions, low wages, and inadequate safety measures at work. The Turkish government’s statements on the matter are vague and alarming, severely lacking in transparency. The people of Izmir, trade unions, professional organizations, and ecological movements are organizing protests against the arrival of the ship.

This is not the first time we have encountered this problem. The dismantling of Nea São Paulo’s sister ship, the Clemenceau, faced adverse reactions due to the risks it posed to the environment, human health, and the violation of relevant international conventions. It is clear that the dismantling of these ships causes severe damage to soil, water, and human health. Therefore, we must not allow such dismantling in Brazil, Turkey, or any other place where the necessary safety conditions for protecting people and the environment do not exist.

We are against the ship going to Turkey without it being adequately decontaminated, in line with what was agreed in the Basel Convention, to which Brazil is a signatory. Therefore, it is necessary for those responsible for the ship, as well as the government of France, which sold the ship to the government of Brazil, to be charged for proper disposal and to guarantee a safe decontamination process, before it can be taken to Turkey. This is the path to protecting the health of workers and the environment.

We have a clear position on banning asbestos and the correct disposal of its liabilities. Together, CUT and DISK declare that we will fight to prevent the damage caused by asbestos and the dismantling processes to workers, public health, and the environment. Furthermore, we will fight the greed of global corporations and the apathy of governments. Ending the commercialization of asbestos and correctly disposing of existing liabilities is a matter of guaranteeing the human right to life and preserving the environment.

We cannot accept that international shipping companies and certain governments want to turn Turkey and Brazil into scrap yards, enriching themselves at the expense of public health, workers’ lives, and the destruction of nature. Our struggle configures a political movement committed to the social transformation towards a more just, egalitarian, and sustainable society.

We reaffirm our support for the struggle of unions and social movements in both countries in defense of life and the protection of nature. In this sense, we call on governments to commit to carrying out impartial and transparent inspections and comply with international conventions.


Os riscos ao meio ambiente e à população turca em um navio brasileiro com 900 toneladas de amianto


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