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India's huge ship-breaking industry is destroying its workers' health

India's ship-breaking industry takes a major toll on the environment and its workers.

by Shawn Killebrew and Angad Singh
Mar 4 2018, 1:45pm

For the fifth year in a row, India is the top destination for ship-breaking or decommissioning ships. But there's a huge cost to workers and their families.

Alang-Sosiya is the largest ship-breaking yard in India, where on average between 30 percent to 40 percent of the world's ships are sent to be dismantled every year. The sprawling ship yard brings in nearly a billion dollars a year for India.

But the industry has been criticized as a form of "toxic colonialism" for taking a huge toll on the environment and exploiting unskilled workers. Decommissioned ships are rife with hazardous compounds like asbestos and diseases like tuberculosis.

"Water is the most important change. If the water is good, all is good. There will be less sickness," ship-breaker Sri Ram Yadav told VICE News. "After working for six months here, I thought my health was ruined."

This segment originally aired February 23, 2018 on VICE News Tonight on HBO.