The European Commission has said that new rules proposed today (23 March) for tighter restrictions on how and where EU shipowners can dismantle their vessels will combat the practice of ‘de'flagging' – which owners are using to avoid current rules.
Under the current waste-shipment regulation, EU-flagged ships cannot be exported for dismantling. But owners avoid this rule by switching ships' flags to a non-EU country before it is decommissioned. The new regulation would take ships out of the waste-shipment regulation and create new rules.
The new rules would make EU shipowners responsible for ensuring their ships are dismantled safely and environmentally soundly within 6 months after selling them or de-flagging them. If not, they could be fined by the Commission. The Commission will draw up a list of facilities considered ‘sustainable' under the proposal. A Commission official said that it would not be economically beneficial for shipowners to wait any longer than six months before dismantling.
“This proposal aims to ensure that our old ships are recycled in a way that respects the health of workers as well as the environment,” said Janez Potočnik, the European commissioner for the environment. “It is a clear signal to invest urgently in upgrading recycling facilities.”
Pollution and health fears:
Currently, an estimated 80% of out-of-service ships are beached in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan for dismantling. When done improperly, ship recycling harms workers and pollutes the environment. The new rules largely implement global standards agreed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in 2009 in the Hong Kong Convention.
No country has yet ratified the convention, and there is no deadline for implementation, though the rules are expected to be in place within eight to ten years. The Commission wants to oblige member states to ratify the convention now. For EU carriers, owners of 40% of the world's ships, the rules would take effect in 2014.
Source: European Voice. By Dave Keating. 23 March 2012