19 May 2009

Speech Given By the NGO Platform on Shipbreaking on the Beaching Method:

Thank you Mr. Chairman and good morning to you all.  

With this submission Greenpeace International and Friends of the Earth International submits to the Conference what has been obvious to the vast majority of ship recycling experts and waste management authorities. That is, that the “beaching method” whereby ships are run aground on ocean beaches for cutting and breaking apart in the intertidal zone can never be accomplished in a manner which is environmentally sound or protective of human health. 

Careful analysis of the intrinsic characteristics of beaching operations are conclusive that no amount of prescriptive improvements or protections can remedy the four fatal characteristics of intertidal beaching operations:

1.  First there is the impossibility of containing pollutants on a tidal beach where hulls of ships are often breached accidentally or by cutting, or toxic paints erode or are abraded sending persistent organic pollutants, heavy metals and oils onto the beach and into the seawater;

2.   Second, due to a shifting and soft wet tidal sand surface, there is the impossibility of rapidly bringing emergency response equipment, including fire-fighting equipment and vehicles, ambulances and cranes along side the ship, to assist or remove persons hurt inside the hull;

3.   Third, the impossibility of allowing cranes to work alongside to lift heavy cut sections of a ship and thereby preventing heavy cut sections from being subject to gravity, shifting or falling directly into workers or into the marine environment; and

4.   Finally, there is the absolute incompatibility of conducting hazardous waste management operations (which is what they are as long as ships contain hazardous wastes) in the ecologically delicate and vital coastal zone.

These fatal flaws of the beaching method inevitably will result in causing avoidable death and pollution and thus make a mockery of the application of Regulation 19 of this Convention. No amount of band-aid guidelines and criteria can cure the malignancy inherent in beaching operations. To ask Parties to prevent adverse effects to human health and the environment from massive toxic ships on an intertidal beach already makes the fulfillment of this objective impossible. However the worst outcome is that by not drawing a clear line at the outset, this fatally flawed method will be legitimized, millions of dollars will be thrown into trying to mitigate the inherently inappropriate and dangerous working platform and the IMO will have succeeded in perpetuating death and pollution for many years to come.

Mr. Chairman, today we have brought to this important meeting and which will be made available to you all as an Information Document, a Statement of Concern, signed by the leaders of 107 civil society organizations in over 30 countries. The list includes 4 winners of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Award including Rizwana Hasan who is with us today. Today we do not represent simply Greenpeace International, and Friends of the Earth, nor the greater NGO Platform on Shipbreaking alone.  Today, we are bringing you the voice of the vast body of civil society environmental, development human rights, and labor organizations that have come together unanimously to sign a statement condemning this Convention as an historical failure, if it cannot muster the political courage to cease the scandalous pretense that scrapping aged ships containing hazardous wastes and oils on ocean beaches in the intertidal zone might be somehow a viable way to achieve the safe and environmentally sound recycling of ships.  

The IMO member states cannot continue to put their head in the sand and say that they will be “method neutral” as such a statement is “science deficient”.  And indeed such a statement is morally deficient -- for to be “method neutral” is to be neutral on actual matters of life and death, for it is on the beaches of South Asia that approximately 50 workers per year are killed.   How many of these deaths could have been prevented were proper equipment such as cranes, fire fighting vehicles, and ambulances been made accessible to the fallen workers? The fact that countries such as Norway, member States of the EU, the United States, and Japan can, within this august body pretend that this method is viable is in fact the height of hypocrisy, as such operations would be banned in those countries in an instant for violations of coastal zone management laws, occupational safety and health laws, and hazardous waste management laws. 

With this submission we as the civil society stakeholder voice in these proceedings call for a prohibition on the beaching method, by amending Article 19 to include the following text:

Ship Recycling Facilities authorized by a Party shall establish and utilize procedures to:

New Paragraph One:  ensure that ship recycling operations taking place on intertidal flats, or ocean beaches or other working platforms which prevent:

§         rapid access to ships by emergency equipment;
§      the ability to utilize cranes and lifting equipment at all times alongside vessels; and
§    the possibility of full containment of pollutants during all cutting and stripping operations, are prohibited;

Additionally, we are proposing that a conference resolution on an implementation mechanism be agreed upon in Hong Kong, which shall include provisions for technical assistance to countries where the beaching method is used with an aim to directing funds toward phasing-out this breaking method and replacing it with dockside, slip, or dry dock platforms as a matter of urgency and global responsibility. 

Finally, we are calling on Conference delegations to develop a Conference Resolution calling for the creation of such a fund for pre-cleaning during the useful life of a ship and prior to its final voyage and for safe recycling – applying established the principles of producer responsibility, polluter pays, and cost internalization.  

We as civil society, believe that if the distinguished delegates take a moment to recall who and what this Convention is really for, the beleaguered marine environment and disempowered and desperate workers, they will then find the courage to take the vital steps we have proposed.  

Thank you Mr. Chairman.

Delivered by Jim Puckett

13 May 2009, Hong Kong, International Conference on the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships

Source: The NGO Shipbreaking Platform.

04 May 2009

Germany Shipping sector prepares for new IMO-convention on ship recycling:

The new IMO-convention for "Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships" aims to prevent hazardous working conditions and to ensure environmental protection during ship recycling operations. It is going to be adopted at a diplomatic conference in Hong Kong this month. Expected to come into force in 2013, the convention will require approximately 50,000 ships worldwide to have a certified "Inventory of Hazardous Materials" (IHM) on board, listing hazardous materials present in structure and equipment.

For preparing the IHM, shipowners will have to involve so-called Hazardous Material Experts (HazMat Experts). To ensure availability of these experts and enabling ship owners to comply early with the ship recycling convention, the first four-day seminar "Approved HazMat Expert" from Germanischer Lloyd was completed in Hamburg, Germany, last week. 

The course has been specifically developed in order to facilitate effective implementation and easy compliance with the upcoming IMO requirements. Due to the huge number of existing ships worldwide, availability of HazMat Experts is crucial. Broad knowledge and detailed insight into the rules and regulations of the ship recycling convention, requirements for shipowners and the HazMat Experts were provided in the seminar.

Knowledge on ships, ship technology, materials and potential hazardous materials and legal requirements as well as related standards and working processes for preparation of accurate IHMs for existing ships were provided. This included all IHM preparation processes like desk preparations and the development of a "Visual Sampling and Check Plan".

The identification and documentation of hazardous materials forms another core part of the seminar, and the combination of theory and interactive case studies supported the learning process.

In the practical part the participants inspected a ship and took samples, prepared related documentation and further followed up the IHM development process by active participation in laboratory analysis work.

The whole IHM process had been completed by finalization of related documentation, calculation of analysis results, interpretation of results and summarizing the outcomes in form of the IHM required in near future. All requirements of the current IMO "Guideline for the preparation of Inventory of Hazardous Materials" were met and transfered into practical steps. The successful participation of the seminar has been verified by an examination and is confirmed with the title "GL-Approved HazMat Expert" for the participants.

"The demand for Hazardous Material Experts will be enourmous and is already increasing sharply today", said Henning Gramann, Environmental Engineer and expert for ship recycling at GL. "Roughly 50,000 ships will have to be certified after 2013 within 5 years." As shipowners depend on HazMat experts to get IHMs prepared for their ships within the limited time-frame, a possible bottleneck due to the lack of HazMat Experts has to be prevented by early training and rising awareness.

GL has developed many services in light of the upcoming ship recycling convention already, required steps had been defined in great detail such as effective training and certifications. Being at the forefront of these developments, also the responsibility is felt to serve the needs of shipowners globally. To manage the enormous amount of data and information needed, for new ships and existing ships, GL provides access to a software tool. Using a web-based application, IHMs can be prepared, maintained and updated efficiently, saving shipyards, shipowners and HazMat Experts both time and costs.

The IMO-convention for "Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships" is being developed to improve working conditions on shiprecycling yards as well as environmental standards during the recycling process.

Every new ship will have to enter service with a certified Inventory of Hazardous Material after the conventions enter into force. Recycling Facilities would need to comply with safety and environmental requirements to gain their authorization and e.g. handle and dispose of hazardous material safely. Ship Recycling States will be required to take effective measures to ensure that Ship Recycling Facilities under their jurisdiction comply with the convention.

The next GL Academy seminar "Approved HazMat Expert" will take place in September in Hamburg. Further worldwide seminars are planned as well.

Source: BYM Marine & Maritime News. Monday, 04 May 2009