Mysterious boat cemeteries swell as hundreds of abandoned ships dump on UK beaches
Boats pile up in the “graveyards” of British ships – and the coastal dumps have grown so large they can be seen from space.
Hundreds of old ships have been abandoned on the coast, and a huge increase in sea tipping is expected over the next few years.
Most boats are plastic and fiberglass, and some are coated with toxic paint.
They pose a huge environmental problem, the leakage of harmful chemicals into the sea which can have a dramatic impact on wildlife.
A chemical in boat paint even changes the sex of mollusks.
In most cases, the last owners of abandoned boats remain a mystery – and it is difficult to trace the culprits.
A shocking BBC report explores the problem – saying that there is no registration system for boats like there is for cars, and that landowners and port authorities often find themselves with the burden of handling waste .
Phil Horton, from the Royal Yachting Association, told BBC: “There was a sharp increase in the manufacture of boats in the 60s and 70s and these will soon reach the end of their life. So now is the time to start looking for solutions before you start getting meaningful numbers out of them.
“The real problem with end-of-life boats is that the person who last owns the boat is the person least likely to afford to dispose of the boat properly.”
One of the largest ship cemeteries can be found at Plymouth’s Hooe Lake. It is believed that the ships remained there for centuries and, as PlymouthLive Reports, dozens of rotten carcasses lay on the waterbed.
Dr Andrew Turner, a marine scientist from the University of Plymouth, told the BBC that a boat in Hooe Lake, The Dignity, was discharging Tributyltin, an anti-fouling paint now banned due to its toxicity.
“One of the main things he did was sex-change shellfish in the marine environment when exposed to extremely low concentrations,” he said.
One of the main concerns are plastic and fiberglass boats, which take much longer to decompose than their wooden counterparts.
A European Commission report It is estimated that up to 130,000 pleasure craft reach the end of their life in Europe each year.
There are notorious ship cemeteries around the world – including extensive “ cruise ship cemeteries ” in Alang in India, Chittagong in Bangladesh, and the Aliaga shipbreaking yard in Turkey.
Although the work can be completed in the UK or the EU, more than two-thirds of the world’s ships end up on the beaches of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
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Workers face terrible conditions and risk their lives dismantling old ships.
A photographer who visited a ship cemetery in Bangladesh told the Mirror: “Old ships are imported without pre-cleaning or removing toxic gases and hazardous materials.
“Sometimes the gases explode and kill the workers. It also happens that workers are crushed by falling or falling steel parts. Sometimes workers fall from the top of ships they are working on without a safety harness.