There are concerns over the effectiveness of a new law which aims to ensure that EU registered ships are dismantled in EU approved ship recycling facilities that must fulfil specific requirements and be certified and regularly inspected,
In a statement the EU Parliament explained that during the negotiations it strengthened the proposed requirements, inter alia by obliging ship recycling businesses to operate in built structures, which must be 'designed, constructed and be operated in a safe and environmentally sound manner'.
The facilities must also hold in hazardous materials throughout the recycling process and handle them and their waste only on impermeable floors with effective drainage. Waste quantities will have to be documented, and their treatment authorised only in waste treatment or recycling facilities
Under the new legislation, non-EU ships, as well as EU ones, will be covered insofar as they will have to carry an inventory of hazardous materials when calling at EU ports. Enforcement measures, including penalties, are to be set by member states.
The regulation will apply to ships at the earliest 2 years and at the latest 5 years after its entry into force, the eventual date depending upon when the recycling capacity of facilities on the EU list exceeds a threshold of 2.5 million light displacement tonnes.
MEP Carl Schlyter, who steered the legislation through Parliament, was keen to stress that the legislation is not an attack against India, Bangladesh or Pakistan - the countries that currently practice beaching - but against the dangerous and highly polluting practice of beaching itself.
“This regulation incentivises these countries to make the necessary investments in proper ship recycling facilities - above all for the sake of safe and environmentally-sound jobs in their countries,” he explained.
A word of warning
In its statement the EU Parliament said that the EU Commission will report on the feasibility of a financial instrument to facilitate safe and sound ship recycling and, if appropriate, present a legislative proposal within 3 years of the entry into force of the regulation.
However, Shipbreaking Platform - an NGO which has campaigned to end the environmentally damaging and dangerous practice of recycling of ships on beaches warned that the regulation will fail to change the current state of play if no financial incentive is rapidly introduced to ensure compliance with the new rules.
“Without a financial incentive, circumvention of European law covering end-of-life vessels will persist and European ship owners will be allowed to continue to seek significant financial profits by externalising environmental and human health costs to the shipbreaking beaches of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, and to the exploited workforce there,” commented Patrizia Heidegger, executive director of Shipbreaking Platform.
Source: waste management. By Ben Messenger. 23 October 2013