Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Should Tyne Be Brought to Life? Tyneside's Historic Swan Hunter Yard Could Be Soon Home to Shipbreaking. Here, Chief Reporter ADAM JUPP Has a Look at What Is Involved in the Dismantling Proces

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Should Tyne Be Brought to Life? Tyneside's Historic Swan Hunter Yard Could Be Soon Home to Shipbreaking. Here, Chief Reporter ADAM JUPP Has a Look at What Is Involved in the Dismantling Proces

Article excerpt

Byline: ADAM JUPP

SOME of the world's most famous ships were built on the Tyne.

Generations of Geordies worked in the yards that lined the banks of the river, until the demise of heavy industry led to their closure.

Industrialists have been plotting what to do with the large swathes of land left behind and the accepted vision for the future appeared to have been a movement into the renewable energy sector.

Now, in an ironic twist, it has emerged talks are taking place over a contract to dismantle, rather than manufacture, ships at what is arguable Tyneside's most famous yard of all.

Bringing shipbreaking work to Swan Hunter would mean, at least in the short term, job creation.

But there are concerns the deal would also have a number of negative consequences for Wallsend and the surrounding area.

Talk of so-called "ghost ships" immediately casts the mind to the controversy surrounding the Able UK site, in Hartlepool, where environmental campaigners protested against ships deemed too toxic to be dismantled overseas being sailed into the region.

The concerns surround some of the substances found inside end-of-life vessels when they are broken up.

The vast majority of the materials making up a ship, particularly the steel can be recycled and have a high scrap value, which explains why the work is done in the first place.

But ships now reaching the end of their lives now also contain hazardous materials such as asbestos and waste oils which need to be disposed of safely.

In recent years, a large number of decommissioned ships have been broken up on beaches in Asia, where laws protecting workers and the wider environment are now deemed unacceptable.

That has led to the UK Government developing policies to encourage private ship owners to dispose of their vessels responsibly, while all naval and publicly-owned ships are supposed to be dismantled to the highest health and safety and environmental standards. …

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