Monday, June 26, 2006

Where Ships Go to Die

I ran across this article today and came away wondering why we can't do this in a more safe way. I mean, if there are fleets of ships waiting around to be scrapped and recycled, there should be a way we could get into the action. I think about all the old 'rust belt' factories and steel mills shut down for lack of work, and how many of them are located in places with easy access to deepwater vessels. With steel prices rising, and booming markets across the globe looking for steel, we could put a lot of people to work. In shipyards scrapping instead of building, disposing of asbestos in much safer ways, and reopening some steel mills to turn the scrap into rolls ready for export.

I look at some of those pictures of ships sitting high above the tide lines, but none of them catch the full magnitude of the trade until you look at these sights from sattelite. That one is in India. This is in Bangladesh.


Fishplate said...

The reason we can't do this is because we have environmental laws and high-priced labor. There was an article in The Atlantic a few years back about this business. Life is cheap there...

Patrick Armstrong said...

That is true, but I don't think we'd have to sacrifice any of that to make some cash off these things. You'd think we'd be able to find a way to dispose of the environmental stuff through technology, and the low cost of the ships for scrap would offset labor costs. The end result would be re-smelting and recycling steel.

With 5/6 of the world currently at developing or third world status (and a good deal of such nations in the Western Hemisphere alone), they're going to need steel for construction when they hit point of takeoff. We already have the infrastructure to export cheaply and take advantage.