23 December 2016

German and Greece ship owners still top the list of ship dismantling at South Asia beaches

Brussels/Chittagong — The German container ship “Viktoria Wulff” is currently being dismantled on the beach. German ship owner Wulff went bankrupt in August and the insolvency administrator is currently selling off the company’s remaining vessels. The “Viktoria Wulff” became the youngest container ship to be sold for demolition at an age of only 10 years without a previous accident. Dismantling at Arefin shipbreaking yard in Chittagong, a 35-year old man, who was made to work without any safety measures, now was struck on the head by a heavy iron piece and died.

“The story of the ‘Viktoria Wulff’ is characteristic for the failed business practices of German KG ship owners as well as ship funds. Nearly 600 ships have been sold due to insolvencies and financial problems since 2008, many of which ended up on the South Asian beaches. The bill for the ship owners’ and investors’ greed for profit is paid by workers and the environment in destinations like Bangladesh, where ships end up without any consideration of the human and environmental costs”, says Patrizia Heidegger, Executive Director of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform. “It is a scandal that German liquidators, who are appointed by the courts, sell end-of-life ships to substandard breaking yards risking peoples’ lives through deals that are in clear breach of international and even domestic Bangladeshi law just to sort out the books for German ship owners”.

In Bangladesh, fatal accidents in the shipbreaking industry remain very frequent, a situation that is widely known – but largely ignored – by the shipping industry, insolvency administrators selling off unwanted ships, as well as by the brokers and cash buyers setting up the end-of-life deals. German owners have had at least 32 old ships ramped up on the beaches of Bangladesh this year. With 83 end-of-life vessels sold to beaching yards in South Asia in 2016, German ship owners top the list of global dumpers together with Greek shipping lines. Several end-of-life sales were in direct breach of the European Waste Shipment Regulation that bans the export of hazardous waste to developing countries. The “Viktoria Wulff” was most probably traded through an anonymous cash buyer using the end-of-life flag St Kitts and Nevis before it was beached in Chittagong.

“Only in 2016, at least 19 shipbreaking workers were killed and another 11 severely injured in the Bangladesh yards. The accident rate remains shockingly high and is not coming down, despite the promises of the yard owners and cash buyers”, says Heidegger. “The shipbreaking yards have to be moved away from the muddy beaches to clean and safe ship recycling facilities using quays and docks where cranes can be operated to safely move cut steel sections. Otherwise, the death count of beaching will not come to a halt”.

Source: recycling portal. 13 December 2016

No Work, No Safety, No Justice – The Aftermath Of Pakistan’s Shipbreaking Disaster

Just over one month after the deadliest accident in shipbreaking history devastated the Gadani shipbreaking yard in Pakistan, the sprawling facility has reopened with no tangible improvement to health and safety provisions and nothing in the way of compensation for affected workers and their families.

On 1 November, a floating oil production tanker, ACES (IMO #8021830), caught fire killing at least 28 workers, leaving scores missing and more than 50 people injured.

According to Shipbreaking Platform, a coalition of environmental, human rights and labour rights organisations working towards safe and clean ship recycling, “the blast was so strong that parts of the ship were blown up to two kilometres away and the fire took more than three days to extinguish”.

The tanker had recently changed from an Indonesian flag to a Djiboutian flag before its arrival in Gadani; this is common practise in an industry where unscrupulous ship owners go to great lengths to avoid liability for the prevalence of unsafe and environmentally-unfriendly shipbreaking practices.

Shipbreaking is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Workers and labour rights activists had been pressing for the drastic improvement in safety measures at Gadani – the world’s third largest shipbreaking yard after Chittagong in Bangladesh and Alang in India – long before last month’s accident, but to no avail.

In May 2016, for example, striking shipbreakers called on the government of Pakistan to enforce the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships and the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes.

Nasir Mansour, secretary general of the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) told Equal Times: “And just two days before this tragic accident we held a protest demonstration in Karachi against the appalling state of affairs at Gadani.”

‘’On a daily basis, at least two labourers are sustaining serious injuries and 28 labourers are losing their lives every year due to the hazardous working environment and dearth of rescue or safety means,” he said.

Poor pay, dangerous work, no protection
Some 6,000 labourers work at Gadani in dangerous conditions with no contracts, no job security, few health and safety provisions, and for wages of between 450 (US$4.30) and 1450 (US13.80) rupees per day.

Situated about 50 kilometres from Pakistan’s commercial capital of Karachi, Gadani contains 132 shipbreaking units along 10 kilometres of beachfront and is thought to salvage more than a million tonnes of steel every year, most of which is sold domestically.

Workers dismantle ships with scant safety equipment in poorly ventilated areas where they are exposed to harmful substances.

Accidents and burns are commonplace but with no access to clean water, decent sanitation or medical facilities, injured workers have to travel to Karachi to go to a clinic or hospital, and usually at their own cost. When Gadani reopened last week, none of this had changed.

On the first Sunday after the accident, some 10,000 people gathered in Gadani in solidarity with the victims and to protest the government’s failure to guarantee adequate compensation for affected workers and their families.

As of the first week of December, workers had still not received any compensation.

The NTUF is calling for three million rupees (approximately US$28,600) for each worker who died and 500,000 rupees (approximately US$4760) for each injured worker, but the government is yet to confirm how much will be paid out.

Boost for the local steel industry
Just a few days after the deadly accident, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif attended a lavish inauguration ceremony marking the acceleration of global trade with China via Pakistan’s brand-new Gwadar port.

Sharif’s entire speech was focused on glorifying the multi-billion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that aims to link China’s north-western Xinjiang region with Gwadar via a number of highways and rail links.

On the Gadani tragedy, Sharif – whose family owns the Ittefaq steel giant – limited his words and actions to the formation of a high-level committee to investigate the cause of the fire and the possibility of criminal liability.
Observers say that the temporarily closure of Gadani only served to stimulate the demand for locally produced steel, benefitting industrialists like Sharif, while producing no tangible safety improvements.

Meanwhile, the thousands of informal workers who depend on Gadani for their livelihoods were adversely affected by the shutdown. Bashir Mehmoodani, president of Pakistan’s Ship Breaking Workers Union, told Equal Times. “Many labourers have already moved out in search for other manual jobs in different parts of the country.”

Workers at Gadani say that many shipbreaking operators import tankers containing fuel, which is then sold on the black market to compensate for the high duties and taxes imposed on the industry.

The intensity of the 1 November blast and the quality of smoke afterwards suggests that there was a quantity of fuel in the tanker, but workers say that they were unaware.

“Workers in this industry are exploited everywhere [in Pakistan],” said Mansour. “The laws for minimum wages, social security and fixed workings hours are not respected at Gwadar. In Gadani, the life of labourers is under direct threat, with literally no safety or ground rules in place.’’

But until the government of Pakistan shows the political will to institute radical reforms to protect the lives and improve the wages of vulnerable, underpaid shipbreaking workers, so it shall continue.

Source: equal times. 15 December 2016

Established value propositions are being redefined: Danish Ship Finance

Danish Ship Finance, the Scandinavian shipping bank, has just published its eagerly anticipated forecasts for the industry. Published twice a year, the report is one of the most keenly read by the world’s shipowners. The mood of the latest report is decidedly sombre.

Danish Ship Finance warned in its latest report that shipping’s value propositions are being redefined dramatically.

“[T]he shipping industry is in the midst of a process whereby supply continues to expand while medium to long-term seaborne trade volumes seem to be on the brink of stagnation or are facing very low demand growth,” the ship finance specialist maintained. “This apparent decoupling is expected to introduce massive changes to the competitive landscape of the shipping industry within the next five years. We believe that the forces currently in play will introduce far-reaching changes that redefine or augment the established value propositions within the shipping industry. Some players are already adapting successfully, while others are lacking behind.”

In the shipbuilding sector, the bank said ordering activity and continuous pressure on newbuilding prices would continue in the coming few years, which will see the number of active yards reduced “dramatically” while capacity at continuing yards will be mothballed.

For the container sector, Danish Ship Finance said its biggest concern centred around the tonnage providers, particularly the smaller players, which could become increasingly marginalised as the liner alliances become capable of servicing their trades with less chartered tonnage.

In dry bulk, Danish Ship Finance questioned the perceived wisdom that the sector has bottomed out.

“It looks as though 2016 will end on a better note than it started,” the bank reported. “However, even though the last quarter especially has been good compared with the first quarter, it is too early to say that the trough is behind us.”

For both crude and product tankers, the bank warned premature scrapping will be necessary as future demand will not be sufficient to absorb all the new ships entering the trades. Moreover, the impact on secondhand values will be significant for both crude tankers and LR product tankers since the age profile of both fleets indicates that the average age of the vessels to be scrapped could be as little as 17-18 years.

“If this is the case, older vessels could see their value reduced by up to seven years’ worth of expected future earnings,” Danish Ship Finance warned.

For the LPG trades, the bank said the outlook for 2017 and 2018 is subject to a large orderbook, a reduced economic growth outlook for Asia and the risk of shorter travel distances.

The LPG orderbook currently equals 22% of the fleet, indicating what the bank described as “significant expansion potential”. At the same time, scrapping potential is limited, as only 5% of the fleet is older than 25 years.

“We consider it unlikely that freight rates for VLGCs and MGCs will remain stable without significant scrapping – which could include younger vessels,” the bank stated.

Source: splash. 15 December 2016

Denmark Environment Minister Under Fire for Dodging Questions About Maersk’s Shipbreaking Policy:

Denmark’s Environmental Minister has come under fire for failing to provide concrete answers to questions regarding the Danish government’s position on shipbreaking in South Asia amid Maersk’s controversial decision to send end-of-life ships to approved yards in Alang, India for recycling.

The Danish Environment Minister, Esben Lunde Larsen, was in Brussels Wednesday to answer questions before Parliament from opposition parties who are calling on the Government to ensure that Maersk’s end-of-life vessels cannot be broken down in beaching yards.

But according to the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, instead of answering the questions directly however, Minister Larsen simply read prepared answers and paraphrased the Hong Kong Convention, quoting technical details and the obligation to follow the law.

“The MPs present… incessantly pressed the Minister to answer concrete and direct questions on the Danish government’s position on beaching, Maersk’s threat to flag out, and whether the government is pressing the EU Commission to list beaching yards in Alang on the upcoming EU list of accepted facilities world-wide,” the NGO Shipbreaking Platform said in a statement slamming the Minister.

“To all the questions and comments, the Minister however repeatedly appealed to his ignorance about the shipbreaking industry and to the literal text of the EU guidelines under the Ship Recycling Regulation,” the group said.

The questions come after investigative journalists last month published a scathing piece in the daily newspaper Politiken revealing safety and workers’ rights violations at the Shree Ram yard in Alang where Maersk sent two ships to be dismantled earlier this year. Maersk came under even more fire when after a former Maersk oil vessel, North Sea Producer, ended up on an unapproved beach in Bangladesh, unbeknownst to the company.

Earlier this year Maersk Line, the world’s largest container shipping company, said under a new company policy it would start sending end-of-life ships to certain Hong Kong Convention-compliant facilities in Alang, India, where the company says it can save $1 to $2 million per ship. The company sent its first two ships to Alang’s Shree Ram yard in May.

The move by Maersk has drawn harsh criticism from environmental and human rights labor groups who argue that the practice of beaching will never be safe or environmentally-sound. Some also accuse Maersk of skirting European law by using flags of convenience.

Maersk has always openly defended its position on Alang, saying its presence and investments there will actually expedite improvements at yards that are compliant with international standards for ship recycling.

“It is shocking that the Minister gave no political comment or direction, but rather only contained a copy-pasted quotation fed to him by Maersk,” said Ingvild Jenssen, Policy Director of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform. “It reveals the lack of political backbone when we see that Maersk is in such a powerful position to issue statements on behalf of the Danish government and that the Minister seems to believe this is acceptable.”

Source: 15 December 2016

2016: “A Year of Progress and Promise” for Ship Recycling Says GMS

The dramatic improvements witnessed at the recycling yards of Alang are an unnoticed “diamond in the rough” for 2016, a year when price fluctuations, accidents, and demonetization of currencies have dominated ship recycling headlines, against a gloomy backdrop for shipping. These changes have driven huge improvements towards safety for workers and the environment, while attracting skilled maritime professionals to the area. However, upcoming EU regulation could threaten this momentum, says Dr. Sharma.

Since January 2016, 20 of the 132 recycling yards in Alang have been reviewed by leading class societies and awarded Statements of Compliance (SoC) in accordance with the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships (HKC) and another 20 yards are in advanced stages of development. More recently, in an attempt to further drive change in the right direction, the Indian Government announced their intention to ratify the HKC in 2017.

“This has made 2016 a year of progress and promise for ship recycling in South Asia,” said Dr. Sharma.

Over USD 180 million has been made available for facility upgrades through a partnership between the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Gujarat Maritime Board. A USD 4.4 million grant towards training is also set to boost worker health and safety as part of the Indian government’s Sagarmala Project.

In 2017, the EU plans on announcing their list of approved ship recycling facilities under its EU Ship Recycling Regulation (EUSRR). It is still unknown whether the yards in Alang, India that have received their SoC with the HKC will be included. It is possible that these yards may be excluded solely because of their use of the beaching method in the dismantling of ships.

“If the EU decides not to include Alang’s HKC-compliant yards it would remove the international pressure that progressive EU-flagged shipowners currently exert in support of the HKC, which has been gaining real traction in India. However, if they do include Indian yards this will be a welcome boost in support of the improvements and achievements that have already been made and are ongoing in Alang,” says Dr. Sharma.

“At GMS, we want to see sustainable ship recycling become the norm rather than the exception. But to achieve improvement at a global scale, the entry into force of the HKC is essential. This is why it is crucial that vital entities such as the EU include Alang’s HKC-compliant yards on its list of approved facilities in 2017.”

“Whatever 2017 holds for ship recycling globally, India is on track to drive significant change and ground-breaking progress in this vital sector. This development is one that the global maritime community should take notice of, promote positively and be proud to be a part of, as support for sustainable recycling and the HKC takes hold in Alang. The continued focus of key players in the region and from around the world is improving environmental sustainability, delivering prosperity and making workplaces safer and healthier. Long may this trend continue.”

Source: Hellenic shipping news. 16 December 2016

Heirs of only four of 27 Gaddani blast victims get compensation:

KARACHI: Plot Number 54 in Gaddani’s ship-breaking yard is largely empty apart from three workmen trying to fix a recently installed safety tower right opposite the ship.

An explosion in an oil tank during gas welding inside the ship caused the loss of 27 lives on Nov 1.

Work at the ship-breaking yard came to a halt immediately afterwards.

News about work starting afresh at the ship-breaking yard has filtered in just recently, but labourers say the work has only begun at “ground level”.

Work is under way only to further dismantle the already dismantled spare parts of one ship, beached next to the compound before the Nov 1 explosion.

“Apart from that, 17 ships are still waiting for the dismantling process to begin. These ships are still in the sea, because the customs authorities have not yet received confirmation from the government to allow dismantling work on it. As soon as they receive confirmation, the ships will be beached and work will begin anew,” says Basheer Mehmoodani, president of the ship-breaking worker union in Gaddani.

So far, workers at the ship-breaking yard have received head gears, overalls and shoes from the association for their safety at the site.

However, extended work hours with low wages is another issue that needs to be considered, says Mohammad Moin from Muzaffargarh who works near the safety tower.

Among the oldest labourers at the ship-breaking yard, some are still awaiting compensation, Moin says, adding that the families of four labourers out of the 27 victims have got Rs1.3 million each from the association.

“It was given to them by Balochistan Development Minister Hamid Khan Achakzai,” says Moin.

From what he knows and heard the labourers at the compound speak about, he says, documentation of the remaining 23 workers is being completed.

The families of some Bengali and Burmese workers have been running from one department to another in order to claim their bodies.

Out of the 27 dead, the bodies of four victims are yet to be found.

Two of them belong to Karachi and two are from Gaddani. One of these bodies is of Mohammad Shafiq, son of Saira Bano, from Karachi.

Being a Bengali, Saira Bano’s Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC) is blocked on the basis of her status “not ascertained by the institution,” and her son does not have an identity card, which makes it difficult to look for him at hospitals and mortuaries where the CNIC is a requirement.

“What they are doing right now,” says Mehmoodani, “is trying to use Shafiq’s step father’s CNIC who is of Pakistani origin. It’d help us in registering an FIR of him being missing since the incident which would help in getting compensation for the family.”

Workers say that the Bengalis and Burmese labourers get the riskier part of the job, including gas welding and helping other labourers, while mostly Pakhtuns are tasked with emptying oil tanks.

“Since these Bengalis and Burmese are not recognised by the state, chances of them getting exploited are higher than any other labourer working at the ship-breaking yard,” says Mohammad Akhter Yaseen, a labourer at the compound.

Apart from the Bengalis and the Burmese, Pakhtuns are among 65 per cent of the labourers at the ship-breaking yard.

“They are the ones who get the major chunk of the work which includes dismantling and cleaning of oil tanks,” says Yaseen.

He says that most of these people stay within the compounds as they have nowhere else to go once the work is done for the day. Baloch workers remain a minority at the ship-breaking yard, he explains.

Mehmoodani adds that with the help of Workers’ Welfare Board of the Government of Balochistan, a sum of Rs15 million has been kept aside for the labourers who died in the explosion.

“But those who got injured recently backed off and said they don’t need compensation,” he claims.

Source: the dawn. 16 December 2016

Hazardous waste from ship breaking to reach 122,000mt in 10 years:

Experts at a round-table meeting organised by the Ministry of Climate Change (MOCC) warned that hazardous waste from ship breaking yards would increase to 122,000 tonnes in 10 years.

These views were expressed at a donors round-table meeting on ‘Environmentally Sound Management of Waste from Ship Dismantling and other Industries in Pakistan’ on Wednesday. The workshop aimed to highlight the practical approach for protecting the environment from 22,000 tonnes of hazardous waste produced per year. It was also emphasised during the meeting to enhance the development of safe and environmentally sound ship-recycling in the country with an aim to improve the standards and sustainability of the ship breaking industry.

It was envisaged that a common hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facility should be established in Gadani for making the shipyards there environmentally sustainable. MOCC Secretary Syed Abu Ahmad Akif, MOCC Joint Secretary, International Labour Organisation Country Director Ingrid Christensen, UNEP Secretariat of Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions Programme Officer Susan Wingfield, Ministry of Environment Secretary Sajjad Ahmed Bhutta, Ministry of Climate Change Deputy Director Dr Zaigham Abbas participated in the workshop. Akif said that it was the ultimate responsibility of the ship breaking industry to adopt safe and sustainable standards. He warned that if protective measures were not taken, the waste levels would drastically increase to over 122,000 metric tonnes in 10 years. In the welcome address, the joint secretary of MOCC said that the ministry was determined to protect the environment and collaborate with relevant organisations across the globe to keep the marine and aquatic life safe. Bhutta said that Gadani ship-breaking yard is the world’s third largest ship breaking yard and providing environment-friendly waste management and recycling facilities would strengthen the industry in Pakistan.

Source: Hellenic shipping news. 16 December 2016

EU Releases First List of Approved Ship Recyclers

On December 20, the European Commission (EC) issued its first list of approved ship recycling facilities. It does not include any sites outside of Europe, and leaves the hotly debated question of beaching for a later date. Maersk Group and the European Community Shipowners’ Association support the inclusion of several South Asian beaching yards, while labor and environmental groups have pressed the EC to restrict the list to more developed facilities in the EU, Turkey and China.

"The first 18 shipyards included in the List are all located in the EU," the commission said in a statement. "They fulfill the strict requirements for inclusion in the List and as a result will have exclusive access to the recycling of ships flying the flags of Member States of the Union." The commission said that it is still reviewing applications from yards outside of the EU, and it expects to publish a second list covering foreign facilities sometime next year.

To qualify for inclusion, a shipyard must maintain a safe and environmentally responsible facility, comply with local regulations and run its operations on "built structures." Most of the European yards on the list dismantle ships alongside a quay or in a drydock – methods that are much different from those employed at South Asian yards, which rely on driving vessels onto tidal flats and dismantling them in place.

The new EU regulation will enter into force once the annual shipbreaking capacity of all yards on the list exceeds 2.5 million LDT (or at the end of 2018 at the latest). The 18 yards on the first list have a combined maximum capacity of 1.1 million LDT, and only three of them accept vessels of Panamax length. Together, these three yards would be able to scrap about two dozen Panamax bulkers each year. 

The limited capacity reflects the EU's relatively small share of the global shipbreaking industry. In 2012, the advocacy group NGO Shipbreaking Platform recorded over 1,200 large merchant vessels scrapped worldwide. About 70 percent of the outdated tonnage went to the beaching yards of South Asia, and China and Turkey split most of the balance. European yards handled roughly two percent.

Source: maritime executive. 21 December 2016

Pakistan shipbreaking yard - Same place, another blaze: NTUF lambastes govt, ship-breakers over fire

The fire broke out in a dismantled ship in Gadani on Thursday. PHOTO: ONLINE
The fire broke out in a dismantled ship in Gadani on Thursday. PHOTO: ONLINE

KARACHI: The government and ship-breakers have not learned from the previous oil tanker tragedy and, due to their apathy, another such incident had to be contained on December 22, said Gadani ship-breaking yard on Thursday.

The NTUF deputy general secretary was addressing a press conference at his office in Karachi over the fire incident that occurred earlier in the morning at the Gadani ship-breaking yard. Fortunately, no loss of life was reported in this incident.

A fire started at a decommissioned LPG container moored at Plot No 60 at the Gadani ship-breaking yard while labourers were cutting through its walls using wielding torches, he said.

Around 100 workers were aboard the ship and they all disembarked immediately using a crane after some of them alarmed them about the fire, he said, adding that it started at around 11am.

“The incident speaks about the government and ship-breakers’ lack of concern towards workers’ lives,” he criticised. “No improvement has been made to ensure safety at workplace. Despite witnessing the deadliest incident in the industry history, no safety measure has been taken,” he said, referring to the November 1 oil tankers tragedy in which 26 workers were killed.

Gadani Ship Breaking Workers Union president Bashir Mehmoodani was also present during the press conference. He said that the ship-breakers’ only concern was the money they were making from this work.

He said that the matter of four people missing in the previous incident has yet to be resolved and the authorities have showed no concern towards it. “The police are refusing to register an FIR about them. Without this, their case cannot be put forward. The families of Imran, Shafiq, Hanif and Sherdad are going through distress as neither have they recovered their loved ones’ dead bodies nor have they been informed about them,” he said.

HRCP launched fact-finding report

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) launched a report of its fact-finding mission on the November 1 tragedy. The report read about the shortcomings in the management and authorities check in the ship-breaking work.

The report laid responsibility of the fire on the yard’s owner, managers and contractors, Customs, Balochistan Environment Protection Agency and Balochistan Development Authority.

Speaking at the report launch, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research executive director Karamat Ali said that in accordance to Article 9 of the Constitution, which guarantees right to life, safety at workplaces should be ensured. “A person spends most of his time at the place he works and when he is not given safety at his workplaces, his right to life is violated,” he remarked, adding that there was a need of making new laws in the country to address these issues as the existing were dating back to 1934.

Source: the express tribune. 22 December 2016

Press Release - Danish opposition parties call on Government to stop beaching of Maersk vessels

Questioned Minister lacks political direction on ship recycling

Brussels, 15 December 2016 – The Danish Environment Minister, Esben Lunde Larsen, had to answer to the Parliament yesterday following questions put to the Government by all the opposition parties. The long list of questions had been drafted two months earlier, prompted by the revelations of Maersk’s shipbreaking practices in South Asia by the Danish investigative journalists, Danwatch, and the daily newspaper Politiken. All opposition parties called on the Danish Government to ensure that Maersk’s end-of-life vessels cannot be broken down in beaching yards.

Apart from a semi-attempt to filibuster by reading out the already available written answers and paraphrasing the Hong Kong Convention, the Minister insisted on quoting technical details and the obligation to follow the law. He was unable to give political direction on how the Government would work to stop Danish companies’ use of the polluting and dangerous beaching practices in South Asia and on Maersk’s threat to swap the Danish flag for a non-EU flag if the EU does not approve ship recycling on the beaches of Alang. The MPs present, representing the spectrum of Danish opposition political parties (including Social democrat member of parliament, Christian Rabjerg Madsen, and the head of Socialistisk Folkeparti, Pia Olsen Dyhr, as well as Ida Auken from Radikale Venstre, Christian Poll from Alternativet, and Marie Reumert Gjerding from Enhedslisten) and the Chair (Pia Adelsteen from Dankse Folkeparti), incessantly pressed the Minister to answer concrete and direct questions on the Danish government’s position on beaching, Maersk’s threat to flag out, and whether the government is pressing the EU Commission to list beaching yards in Alang on the upcoming EU list of accepted facilities world-wide.

If ships were broken on beaches in Denmark there would be an uproar, the MPs stated. They asked the Minister to outline how he thought safe working conditions and protection from pollution could ever be ensured when dismantling a vessel in the intertidal zone of a beach, and clearly requested the Minister to provide strong political support to end beaching. To all the questions and comments, the Minister however repeatedly appealed to his ignorance about the shipbreaking industry and to the literal text of the EU guidelines under the Ship Recycling Regulation. Whilst the Minister admitted that flagging out to circumvent EU law is not compatible with responsible business practices, he refused to answer how he would make sure that Danish shipping companies only use facilities that are on the upcoming EU List of approved recycling practices, and which is not expected to include facilities that use the beaching method. Clearly, Minister Lunde Larsen, in the two months he had to prepare before the meeting with the MPs, chose to only be briefed by the interested lobby groups who promote beaching practices; most notably the biggest company in Denmark, Maersk.

“It is shocking that the Minister gave no political comment or direction, but rather only contained a copy-pasted quotation fed to him by Maersk. It reveals the lack of political backbone when we see that Maersk is in such a powerful position to issue statements on behalf of the Danish government and that the Minister seems to believe this is acceptable,” said Ingvild Jenssen, Policy Director of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform.

The insistent drilling by the MPs to the Minister on the government’s position on beaching left no time for Esben Lunde Larsen to answer all questions. The MPs would have particularly liked to go into more depth on issues related to the government policy to enhance the ship recycling industry in Denmark, and crucially on the government’s engagement to investigate on the illegal export of the Maersk-owned oil production and storage tanker, North Sea Producer, from the UK to Bangladesh. At the end of the meeting, Pia Olsen Dyhr (SF) called for another meeting with the Minister to discuss these issues more in detail.

Source: NGO shipbreaking platform. 15 December 2016

No more dead workers! Call on Berge Bulk to commit to responsible ship recycling

Brussels, 20 December 2016 – The Berge Stahl, one of the world’s largest iron ore bulkers, made its last visit at the Port of Rotterdam last week. The NGO Shipbreaking Platform calls on the ship owner, Berge Bulk, and the Dutch authorities to ensure the responsible recycling of the 30 year old vessel. Berge Bulk, founded and lead by James Marshall and headquartered in Singapore, is one of the world’s largest operators of dry bulkers and has recently sold several of its end-of-life ships to substandard shipbreaking yards on the beaches of South Asia. At least two workers were killed and four more injured at Seiko Steel shipbreaking yard in Bangladesh earlier this year while the bulker company’s Berge Matterhorn was under demolition there. The Berge Stahl has called at Rotterdam’s ore terminal 249 times over the last 25 years. It was for a long time the largest dry bulk vessel in the world and considered to be the Port of Rotterdam’s unofficial ‘flag ship’. The Port of Rotterdam bid farewell to its iconic ship last week.

“Both the Port of Rotterdam and the Dutch authorities must have an interest in the responsible recycling of its ‘flag ship’ that made many in the port proud and regularly attracted fans. We call on Berge Bulk, a company so far known for irresponsible shipbreaking practices with fatal consequences to see this as an opportunity to review its scrapping practices and commit to responsible recycling”, says Patrizia Heidegger, Executive Director of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform. “For a company that claims that ‘sustainability is at the core of everything we do’ and promises ‘people first’ and ‘clean planet’, ship recycling in a modern facility off the beach is mandatory. Dead workers and a polluted environment in Bangladesh do not go well together with the desired clean image”.

Apart from the fatal and severe accidents at the yard that was cutting down the Berge Matterhorn in Bangladesh, the Berge Vik and the Berge Prosperity ended up on the beaches of Gadani, Pakistan, in May last year. The destination has recently been shaken by the worst explosion in the history of the shipbreaking industry that resulted in at least 28 workers dead and more than 50 men severely injured.

Given the age of the vessel and the current low freight rates, experts assume that the Berge Stahl is soon going for demolition. When the vessel arrived in Rotterdam, the Platform alerted the Dutch authorities to ensure that the ship, which becomes hazardous waste under European and international environmental law once there is an intent to sell it for scrap, will not be illegally exported to the infamous shipbreaking beaches of India, Pakistan or Bangladesh. While the authorities have taken the case very seriously, Berge Bulk was able to reassure them that the vessel will continue to be operated and will go for dry docking in China. The Platform is now closely monitoring every move of the ship.

“The vessel’s story is a very good example of why a European Ship Recycling License is necessary to ensure responsible ship recycling in the future,” says Ingvild Jenssen, Policy Director and founder of the Platform. “The Berge Stahl has been coming to Rotterdam for 25 years on a very regular basis delivering iron ore for German steel producer Thyssen. If Berge Bulk had set aside funds over 25 years through a mandatory Ship Recycling License, the ship owner would now have a strong incentive to recycle it in an EU-approved facility in order to be able to recover the accumulated moneys – even though the CEO sits in Singapore and could easily circumvent the European Ship Recycling Regulation by swapping the ship’s current flag, Isle of Man, to one outside the EU. We call on European lawmakers to effectively regulate the end-of-life fate of ships that have such close ties to EU trade by supporting financial incentives such as the Ship Recycling License”.

(© Andreas Ragnarsson – Injured worker, Chittagong – Bangladesh, 2016) 

: shipbreaking platform. 20 December 2016

21 December 2016

Government approaches donor agencies to preserve environment

The Ministry of Climate Change in coordination with donor organizations, working on preservation of environment, organised a Donors' Round-table Meeting on Environmentally Sound Management of Waste from Ship Dismantling and other Industries in Pakistan here at a local hotel, says a press release.

The roundtable was aimed to highlight the Government of Pakistan commitment to its national and international obligations towards the conservation and preservation of environment for the sake of country’s existing and future generations.

The Ministry of Climate Change is coordinating with donor organisations across the world and taking various initiatives for the protection of environment over the past two decades and is a party of a number of international Conventions and Protocols on various environmental issues especially hazardous chemicals and wastes which include Basel, Rotterdam, Stockholm, Vienna Conventions and Montreal Protocol.

It was also emphasised to enhance the development of safe and environmentally sound ship recycling in the country with an aim to improve the standards and sustainability of the ship breaking industry.

It was envisaged that a common hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facility to be established for the Gadani hub area as the common centralized facility for providing environment utility services to the Gadani yards as well as to hub industries for disposing of their hazardous wastes in a safe and environmentally sustainable manner.

Syed Abu Ahmad Akif, Secretary, Ministry of Climate Change, Iftikhar-ul- Hassan Shah Gilani, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Climate Change, Ms. Ingrid Christensen, Country Director, ILO, Ms. Susan Wingfield, Progrmme Officer, UNEP Secretariat of Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, Geneva, Switzerland, Sajjad Ahmed Bhutta, Secretary Ministry of Environment, Government of Balochistan, Dr. Zaigham Abbas, Deputy Director (Chemical) Ministry of Climate Change, the representatives from different government and international organisations participated in the workshop and shared their recommendations to improve the sector.

Syed Abu Ahmad Akif, Secretary, Ministry of Climate Change, said that there are different perceptions about the ship breaking industry but we hope that future will be better than today. It is the ultimate responsibility of the ship breaking industry to adopt safe and sustainable standards.

He warned that if protective measures have not been taken, the waste would drastically increase to over 122, 000 metric ton in coming ten years.

In welcome address, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Climate Change, said MOCC is determined to protect the environment and keep its coordination with relevant organisations across the globe to clean the marine and aquatic life from hazardous effects.

Sajjad Ahmed Bhutta, Secretary Ministry of Environment, Government of Balochistan, said that Gadani ship-breaking yard is the world's third largest ship breaking yard, located in Gadani, Balochistan. The standard waste management and recycling would strengthen the industry in Pakistan.

Susan Wingfield, Programme Officer, UNEP Secretariat of Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, Geneva, Switzerland, said that the coordinated efforts are needed to address the issues of ship-breaking, because they are impacting the beauty of the Earth and directly on health of the human beings.

Dr. Zaigham Abbas, Deputy Director (Chemical) Ministry of Climate Change said that, there is a need of a treatment, storage and disposal facility on how it intends to enforce the usage of its future and talked about the resources required for the this particular cause.

The workshop provided an opportunity to the participants to re-strategize their working patterns and keep into consideration the impact of hazardous impacts.

Source: the news. 19 December 2016

Maersk inks deal to scrap eight vessels

Ship line says all recycling will abide by responsible ship recycling standards.

Maersk inks deal to scrap eight vessels 
Maersk Line, the largest container shipping line in the world, has signed an agreement to have eight of its vessels scrapped by ship recycling companies in India and China. The vessels to be scrap are all Panamax vessels.

As part of the agreement, the ship recycling firms have agreed to process the vessels in full agreement with the A.P. Moller - Maersk Responsible Ship Recycling Standard (RSRS).

The ship line adds that it expects to recycle a larger number of vessels than in previous years as more of its vessels are coming to their economical end of life. At the present time Maersk Line has a fleet of more than 600 vessels that it owns and charters.

In November, Maersk Line and Maersk Transport & Logistics Sustainability selected five ship recycling facilities in China and India for a tender to recycle eight Panamax vessels. All the ship recyclers agreed to the A.P. Moller - Maersk Responsible Ship Recycling Standard (RSRS) as a prerequisite to enter the tender.

“These vessels represent roughly 1 percent of our fleet, so this is a small but meaningful capacity reduction, which will contribute to achieving a better balance between supply and demand for Maersk Line,” says Maersk Line COO, Søren Toft.

“The cost of replacing the vessel – hereunder its operational profile, its segment fit and how this segment is covered within the needs of our network – also impacts our considerations as to whether to recycle a vessel. Finally, external factors such as steel price developments and global or regional trade outlooks play a role in our decision making process,” says Peter Lund, head of chartering at Maersk Line.

In India, four vessels will be recycled by Shree Ram; Y.S. Investments, a part of The Lucky Group, will process two other Maersk vessels.

Recycling supervision will be carried out by Maersk QHSE superintendents and external consultants to ensure responsible ship recycling operations according to the A.P. Moller – Maersk RSRS.

“Since our first vessels arrived in Alang (India) earlier this year, we’ve seen significant progress; at the facility we are working with now, at the facilities that will recycle these next four vessels, and even at other facilities that have been encouraged to invest and upgrade,” says Annette Stube, head of sustainability for Maersk Transport & Logistics.

The remaining four vessels will be recycled at Changjiang Ship Recycling, located in Jiangyin, China, a Lloyd’s Register certified facility. Supervision of the scrapping will be carried out by Sea2Cradle.

“With this tender, we have for the first time seen that the ship recyclers compete not only on price, but also on standards. This indicates a move towards higher standards, and we will continue to encourage this development,” says Stube.

Estimated transfer dates of the vessels to the ship recycling yards are between the middle of December 2016 and the middle of March 2017.

Source: recycling today global. 19 December 2016