Ships are lined up here as at any port, but they’ll never leave. Instead, they’ll be dissected bolt by bolt, rivet by rivet, every piece of metal destined for the furnaces to be melted down and fashioned into steel rods. … Ships are built to float, not to be ripped apart, spilling toxins, oil and sludge into the surrounding seas.
This segment of “60 Minutes” aired in November and was the first extensive look on American television at the international crisis that surrounds dismantling old ships. Bob Simon traveled to the port city of Chittagong in Bangladesh and interviewed workers, shipyard owners and activists, exposing this growing labor and environmental crisis.
Tens of thousands of men tear apart some of the largest ships ever built with their bare hands. In the process, tons of asbestos and other toxins are dumped on the beaches of some of the poorest countries in the world.
Judges had this to say: “This piece has it all: compelling story, incredible videography, outstanding writing. The details and storytelling made this a feature that holds the attention from start to finish. Bob Simon has just the right touch in his interviews and delivery.”
This feature, which also involved the talents of producer Michael Gavshon, editor Paul Bellinger and cameraman Christopher Everson, gave viewers insight as to how our lives in the West are inextricably connected to those a world away.
Simon remarked that, even given his long history as a journalist in international reporting, he had “never encountered the kinds of conditions these men face every day. It was humbling to see people toiling away in such awful conditions, doing dangerous and dirty work and then returning to their dark dank barracks with no beds, just steel plates scavenged from the ships they break. Amidst all this they carried themselves with extraordinary grace and dignity.”