Alang ship recycling activity. Photo: PA
The European Community Shipowners' Associations (ECSA) has said that Europe should trust class society judgements on ship recycling yards or risk putting off big players from signing up to international standards.
ECSA was commenting on the latest certifications of compliance issued by ClassNK to two yards in Alang, India, that use the often-criticised beaching method. The certifications were welcomed by ECSA, which is concerned that if south Asian yards are effectively banned by the EU by failing to make it onto the European Ship Recycling Regulation's accepted recycling yard List, the shipping industry will be left with insufficient recycling capacity.
ECSA argued that the certification shows the yards comply with the international regulation developed at the International Maritime Organization (the Hong Kong International Convention on the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships). Also the task of developing sufficient capacity for recycling "may be jeopardised" if Europe refused to approve yards on "grounds of method or geography".
The organisation called on the European Commission to "engage in a dialogue with classification societies specifically on ship recycling to ensure that the European list of approved recycling facilities does not base itself on assumptions but rather on-site inspections".
ECSA justified its position by saying that classification societies "are independent, self-regulating, externally audited" bodies with "no commercial interests related to ship design, shipbuilding or ship ownership".
Speaking to IHS Maritime, Benoit Loicq, ECSA's director of maritime and environment said: "Having those Hong Kong Convention yards on the EU list of acceptable breaking yards will definitely be an additional incentive for other yards located in India and elsewhere to improve their recycling practices.
"As a consequence, a major recycling state such as India will be in a position to ratify the Hong Kong convention for the benefit of achieving safe and environmentally sound recycling conditions globally."
ECSA pointed to constant delays to compilation of the European List of acceptable recycling yards. Loicq said this was mostly due to legal reasons.
He added, "It is mainly to do with the implementing acts required under the EU Ship Recycling Regulation and the official publication of it in the Official Journal of the EU. In particular an implementing act on the documentation and form required for the yards to apply."
An EU official told IHS Maritime that classification societies were expected to become "Independent Verifiers" (IV) under the new EU system. A certificate from an IV will have to be attached to applications for inclusion in the EU List of approved yards.
"The European Commission will not list independent verifiers, but it will still ensure that the certifications it receives from the facilities are compiled by independent and qualified professionals" he said. "So not just anyone can be an IV. For example, [an IV] cannot be someone from the quality assurance department of the ship recycling company, as that would not qualify as independent."
He went on to explain that the verification system would be multilayered.
"After the [commission] receives the application from the facility to enter the EU list, the commission itself, with its experts, will review the whole application file. It is very possible that the Commission rejects the application from a facility even if the latter was certified by the independent verifier.
"The Commission will carry out site inspections itself on the facilities, before and/or after listing on the EU list."
A facility listed on the European list "can always be withdrawn from the list if it ceases to be compliant."
Source: HIS Maritime. 08 October 2015