The Oriental Nicety

Considering the grim process of dismantling a ship in Gujarat, India, the Oriental Nicety is an ironic name for an oil tanker. Even more so considering its former name: Exxon Valdez.

One of the guests on yesterday’s program was Mark Magnier. He is the South Asia bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times. I spoke with him after reading his article on the Oriental Nicety and the troubles it’s facing as it prepares for getting broken up for scrap. Ship-breaking is big business in Gujarat. It’s also a dangerous business. Workers are not just poorly paid. About 50 of them die each year doing it (official statistics reveal 372 deaths since 1983 said Magnier, but most believe the numbers to be much higher since a lot of deaths go unreported).

Aerial view of the Alang ship breaking yard in Gujarat, India (courtesy

We didn’t get to include for broadcast Magnier’s clear-eyed description of the ship-breaking yards in Alang. It sounds like hazardous and anarchic recycling at an industrial scale, but with a curious level of organization to the whole mess.


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