18 May 2010

Old ships and obsolete computers: Stronger controls on dismantling eyed

Geneva - Greater emphasis on highlighting the links between waste management, the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and human health and livelihoods underpin a new 10-year vision for the Basel Convention lately recommended by governments. Three hundred delegates from 106 countries welcomed the Convention's Strategic Framework 2012-2021 on the final day of a meeting in Geneva at which a range of pressing issues on the control of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal have been considered.

Other key outcomes of the five-day meeting include moves to -
  • ensure strong controls on the rapidly growing ship dismantling industry,
  • progress developing global recycling guidelines for used computers and
  • support for furthering the objectives of the Ban Amendment to the Convention which prohibits the export of hazardous waste from developed countries to developing countries.

The Executive Secretary of the Basel Convention, Katharina Kummer Peiry, said the forum's positive results come at a time of renewed interest in the management of transboundary movements and disposal of hazardous wastes.

"The international community is signaling its support for increased efforts to promote the environmentally sound management of waste during a time of transition with new waste streams, new technological developments and ways in which waste moves around the world," Ms. Kummer Peiry said.

The main outcomes furthermore included endorsement by Parties to the Basel Convention of:

·       Revised technical guidelines for the environmentally sound management of used tyres
·  Technical guidelines on the environmentally sound management of mercury wastes, and
·     Draft technical guidelines on the co-processing of hazardous waste in cement kilns.

The wide-ranging recommendations from the meeting will be put to the Basel Convention's next Conference of the Parties (COP 10) to be held in Cartagena, Colombia, from 17-21 October 2011.

Source: RecyclingPortal.EU (Sourced from UNEP). 18 May 2010

15 May 2010

High Court directive on scrap ship import must be followed strictly:

Cutting work is on progress without wearing safety glasses & hard hat in a shipbreaking yard in Chittagong
The High Court of Bangladesh has reasserted that pre-cleaning and environmental certificates must be collected before ships are brought to our territorial waters by the importers. The directive came after the HC found that shipping ministry officials were misinterpreting the court's earlier directive issued in March this year and allowing import of ships for scrapping without collecting such certificates.

The HC directive is important for many reasons. There have been quite a few fatal accidents in our shipbreaking yards over the last few years which took a heavy toll of human lives. It is no secret that most of the shipbreaking yards, which have poor safety and maintenance records, have a highly negative impact on the environment, apart from their being a cause of loss of lives.

Against this backdrop, the HC ordered the ship importers to collect the pre-cleaning and environmental certificates from the exporting countries. It is not clear how the shipping ministry officials could bend the rule and interprets it as being applicable only to 'green ships'.

Are they not aware of the junk ships that pose such a grave risk to the workers at the shipbreaking yards?
How could they overlook the fact that exporters of ships containing toxic substances still treat Bangladesh as a soft target?

The point can be elaborated by the attempts they made in the past to burden us with such ships that no other country in the world would accept!

In fact, the shipbreaking yards are neither following the safety regulations, nor attaching due value to the workers' lives. Yet, the number of the yards is rising sharply, which suggests that the business is highly profitable. The point now is whether the owners will be allowed to carry on the business which is an environmental concern of great magnitude, or some safety regulations will be introduced to protect the workers and the environment?

The ship importers could have eliminated the risk factors to a great extent by obtaining pre-cleaning and environmental certificates from the importers, but their failure to do so allows hazardous ships to enter our territorial waters.

We welcome the HC's position on import of ships and fully endorse the renewal of its directive that the ships wanting to enter our territorial waters must obtain the pre-cleaning and environmental certificates. This will eliminate the hazards associated with allowing uncertified ships to be scrapped in our yards.

Source: The Daily Star. Editorial. 15 May 2010