Skip Navigation

Tox Town - Environmental health concerns and toxic chemicals where you live, work, and play
Shipyarden español

What is a shipyard?

A shipyard is a facility for shipbuilding, repair, maintenance, and shipbreaking. Some shipyards also manufacture offshore oil and gas drilling platforms. Shipyards are dangerous construction zones with many worker hazards. Shipbuilding and ship repair activities include painting, surface preparation, tank cleaning, and all aspects of marine construction. Routine ship engine maintenance requires handling engine fluids such as oil, antifreeze, and hydraulic fluids. A ship may be repaired or maintained while afloat or may be hauled into a dry dock area out of the water. Before repairs, a ship’s ballast and bilge tanks may be emptied of dirty water into the surrounding waters. New ships are built in dry docks. 

Because shipyards are located on the water, pollution created by shipyard activities can fall into the water directly or be carried in by runoff. Shipbuilding and ship repair use toxic chemicals including chromium, copper, nickel, and lead

When large ships are cleaned, a process called dry-abrasive blasting is used to remove contaminants and prepare the surfaces. Ship surfaces are treated with antifoulant materials to clean barnacles and other organisms from the hull and coated to preserve their steel. Cleaning and coating activities use chemicals that include heavy metals, solvents, copper, and hazardous or flammable materials. They release lead, particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, zinc, and other air pollutants. 

Shipbreaking is the breaking down or dismantling of a ship for scrapping or disposal at the end of its useful life. It can be extremely hazardous work and is often done in countries with little environmental oversight or worker protection. Shipbreaking can involve removing hazardous materials, such as preservatives, paints, fuel and cargo residues, and insulating materials, including asbestos.

This description is based on the information found in the Web links listed with this topic.

Web Links from MedlinePlus (National Library of Medicine)
Occupational Health

More Links
Aerial Lift Fall Protection Over Water in Shipyards (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) (PDF — 879.76 KB)
Ship Building and Repair (California State Compensation Insurance Fund)
Shipbuilding and Ship Repair (Occupational Safety and Health Administration)
Shipyard Employment eTool (Occupational Safety and Health Administration)

Chemicals and Shipyards
Are these chemicals in MY community?
Carbon Monoxide
Crude Oil
Ethylene Glycol
Nitrogen Oxides
Particulate Matter
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)
Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs)
Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Last Updated: August 16, 2016

Interactive Graphic Neighborhoods City Farm Town US Border Regions Port US Southwest