12 March 2012

Ship recycling: Norway and Japan ‘miss the point’

Recent initiatives in Bangladesh and India are getting flak as it is feared they will do little to phase out beaching.

Norway and Japan are missing an opportunity to revolutionise the way ships are scrapped in the Indian subcontinent, according to the International Ship Recycling Association (ISRA).

The organisation says they may be “missing the point” in their efforts to make Bangladesh and India compliant with the new Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships (HKC) .

Japanese funding is behind a planned $22.5m investment in India, while Norway, through its Norwegian Agency for Development Co-operation (Norad) programme, is investing up to $6m in Bangladesh.

Green-recycling body ISRA has campaigned for some time against the beaching method, instead arguing that facilities should be in sheltered environments, protected from currents and tides, and with steel lifted out and transported to hardstanding areas.

“We don’t want to be negative because all initiatives are welcome,” ISRA secretary-general Bernard Veldhoven told Trade-Winds.

But it is feared that Norway and Japan’s efforts will do nothing to phase out the beaching method and the problems associated with tides and use of heavy machinery.

A structural shift is needed in the Indian subcontinent, says the ISRA.

It concedes that details of the Japanese project in India are not yet known.

But those of Norway are already laid down in a memorandum of understanding and despite covering much-needed areas of improvement such as training for health and safety, improved management of hazardous materials and certification of yards, the “first and most basic requirement is not mentioned and not given any attention at all”, says the ISRA.

This, it says, is the need to design and construct a “proper facility which meets the requirements of a sound ship-recycling site” but that does not include beaching.

Veldhoven says it is very strange that the Norwegian project does not require what is generally considered a “generic principle” for recycling ships — notably, the construction of “hard and impermeable standings for cranes and other heavy vehicles, including emergency vehicles, a proper site along which a ship can be moored, protection against tides and current, proper entrance for firefighting and facilities for waste management”, “Initiatives for improvements must be genuine and structural and not an excuse to continue patched, unacceptable practices,” he said.

Veldhoven says rivers opening onto the sea in the subcontinent could be used to construct jetties and interior harbours. Many facilities of ISRA member yards are there to be copied. The association is ready to assist.

The ISRA says that after many years of public discussion about upgrading substandard practices, the time has now come to make a real jump forward.

“Norway and Japan seem to have missed that opportunity, despite all their good intentions,” said the ISRA.

Source: TradeWinds Business Report. By Geoff Garfield. 9 March 2012

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