Brussels -- A new EU Regulation on ship recycling has been voted yesterday by the European Council, and already approved by the European Parliament. The NGO Shipbreaking Platform and European Environmental Bureau (EEB), and the more than 160 environmental, human and labour rights organisations they represent, denounce the regulation for effectively postponing and possibly ridding the EU with its responsibility to provide solutions to the global shipbreaking crisis. The NGO coalition warns that the Regulation will fail to change the current state of play.
European shipping interests will continue to make significant financial profits by externalizing environmental and human health costs to the shipbreaking beaches of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, and to the exploited workforce there. The regulation may direct a very limited scope of ships registered under an EU flag to “green” listed ship recycling facilities, those that are built to adequately contain hazardous materials – an effective ban on the breaking of EU flagged ships on tidal beaches.
Beaching sites will not be approved for EU listing, which prevents EU flagged ships from being beached. But, large shipping nations such as Greece, Malta, Cyprus blocked additional measures proposed by the European Parliament to strengthen the Regulation, such as ensuring traceability of hazardous wastes dumped in developing countries and clearly linking liability for these wastes to the polluter, who in this case is the shipowner.
So the regulation does nothing to prevent shipowners from jumping register to a non-EU flag prior to sending their ships for breaking in order to avoid falling under the requirements of the new EU law. In fact, the Regulation may even have the unintended effect of shrinking the number of ships registered under an EU flag, and therefore making the Regulation counterproductive to other EU initiatives aimed at building a more robust EU fleet.
Conflicting with existing conventions
According to NGO Shipbreaking Platform, the new ship recycling Regulation conflicts with the United Nations Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal and the Basel Ban Amendment, both of which are instruments that have been ratified and implemented into the national legislation of all EU Member States via the European Waste Shipment Regulation, and of which the latter forbids the export of hazardous wastes from the EU to non-OECD countries. Article 29 of the law on ship recycling adopted yesterday removes hazardous waste ships from the scope of application of the European Waste Shipment Regulation.
“We fear that the Regulation will end up applying to very few ships” said Jeremy Wates, Secretary General of the EEB. “Unless an economic incentive for all ships calling at EU ports is rapidly introduced, circumvention of the law will persist, and the European shipping industry will continue to be at the heart of scandals involving severe pollution of coastal zones and exploitation of vulnerable workers in developing countries,” he added.
Source: recycling portal.