ALIAĞA – Asbestos, that is especially hard to track in ships, often causes lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis. The team investigated several shipbreaking yards, including Kılıçlar in Turkey, where workers are exposed to the deadly substance without adequate protection. 

The installation of asbestos in ships has been prohibited 2011, however the issue remains problematic: the project sheds light on the current situation.

Shipbreaking is still a costly activity, so it is much more convenient for shipowners to carry out in countries such as Bangladesh, India or Turkey. 

In May 2023, the EU’s Directorate-General for the Environment approved Kılıçlar ship breaking yard as a suitable recycling facility despite known asbestos issues. Alarmingly, such breaches in Aliağa, a shipbreaking hub, are widespread, with reports of several fatal accidents even in EU-approved yards. Videos show them mishandling these hazardous materials, and an expert predicts they will develop lung diseases within a decade.

Asbestos inhalation can lead to severe respiratory problems, including cancer, emphasising the need for specialized protection. The EU claims that asbestos causes 78% of occupational cancers. Despite this, many industries, especially shipbreaking, often neglect safety standards.

The EU established a list in 2013, restricting European shippers from using unapproved ship breakers, but inspections are easily predictable. Workers not only risk asbestos exposure but also face threats from other toxic substances. Activists are pushing the EU to increase oversight and ensure safer shipyard working conditions.

Beside the impact on health, the asbestos in the shipping industry is problematic for the environment, given the difficulties of recycling.

The cross-border investigation on ‘Asbestos in Ship’ is coordinated by Investigative Reporting Denmark, editorial coordination is done by IRPIMedia from Italy. Investigations is done by IRPIMedia, The Black Sea, Investigative Reporting Denmark, Ostro in Croatia, Reporters Foundation from Poland, Saleem Samad from Bangladesh and panorama story is edited by Katharine Quarmby. 

Photo credit: Vedat Örüç

Team members

Mašenjka Bačić

Mašenjka Bačić is a freelance journalist covering geopolitics in the Balkans.

Carlotta Indiano

Carlotta Indiano is an Italian investigative journalist based in Rome.

Carlotta Indiano

Nils Mulvad

Nils Mulvad is an investigative journalist, affiliated with Investigative Reporting Denmark. 

Fabio Papetti

Fabio Papetti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy, started writing about police violence in the Balkan area.

Fabio Papetti

Ante Pavić

Ante Pavić, is a journalist and editor in numerous Croatian daily and weekly newspapers.

Ante Pavić

Katharine Quarmby

Katharine Quarmby is an experienced and award-winning journalist, writer and editor, based in the UK.

Giulio Rubino

Giulio Rubino (1980) is an Italian journalist.

Zeynep Sentek

Zeynep Sentek is a Turkish journalist based in Portugal.

Zeynep Sentek

Craig Shaw

Craig Shaw is a British journalist and editor of The Black sea Project.

Craig Shaw

Krzysztof Story

Krzysztof Story is a journalist based in Poland.

Krzysztof Story

Vedat Örüç

Vedat Örüc is a freelance journalist based in Istanbul.

Vedat Örüc

Lorenzo Bagnoli

Lorenzo Bagnoli is co-director, journalist, editor and coordinator of international projects at IrpiMedia.

Lorenzo Bagnoli


A group of independent investigative journalists from the four Visegrád countries created VSquare, a regional collaborative platform where they could present their investigations to an international, English-speaking audience.


IRPI Media

ITALY - Investigative Reporting Project Italy (IRPI) is unique as the only nonprofit publisher of investigative journalism in Italy. 

IRPI Media


A center for investigative journalism that was established (in Slovenia) to fill a growing void in the media environment of the Adriatic region. It is an independent, not-for-profit and uncompromising institution.


Investigative Reporting Denmark

Investigative Reporting Denmark conducts investigative reporting in Denmark and cooperates with journalists internationally. The centre is member of GIJN, works together with gravercenter.dk and is registrated as a mass media in Denmark.

€21.120, allocated on 23/02/2022



  • The EU
  • Turkey
  • Bangladesh

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