The Ship Breakers

Modern steel-hulled ships are built to last for several decades at sea before repair becomes uneconomical. After their useful life is over, more than 90 percent of the world's ocean-going container ships end up on the shores of India, Pakistan, Indonesia, or Bangladesh, where labor is cheap, demand for steel is high, and environmental regulations are lax. The ships are driven right up onto shoreline lots set aside for ship breaking, then attacked by hammer and blowtorch until all usable material has been stripped away to be sold or recycled. The work is extremely difficult, and low-paid workers face significant risks from the dangerous conditions and exposure to materials like asbestos and heavy metals. Environmental groups have raised alarms for years over the continued release of toxins into the environment from these shipyards. Gathered here are images from these yards taken over the past several years.

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