European Voice – Agreement on ship recycling

(Written by Dave Keating)

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27 June 2013 - Deal will mean creation of approved list of recycling facilities, but green groups say it will not stop ship owners breaking the rules.

MEPs and member states today (27 June) reached a deal on ship recycling rules that will see the creation of a list of European Union-approved ship recycling facilities. The regulation implements an international agreement that member states signed up to in 2009. As a result, ship owners would have to keep an inventory of any hazardous materials on board. They would also be obliged to reduce the levels of hazardous materials before a ship can be recycled, and EU-registered ships could only be recycled at EU-approved facilities.Members of the European Parliament’s environment committee had wanted to go further than the international obligations by setting up an EU fund for ship recycling. However this was rejected by the full Parliament.
“Up to now, EU ships have generally been dismantled and recycled at sub-standard sites operating to low standards in third countries,”said Phil Hogan, the environment minister of Ireland, which holds the presidency of the Council of Ministers, after the deal was agreed. “From the date of application of this regulation, this practice will now have to cease in respect of EU-flagged ships. Ships will instead have to be properly recycled in approved facilities operating to high environmental and worker safety standards.”

Environmental campaigners condemned the outcome, saying that without a recycling fund there will be no incentive for proper recycling.

“We fear that the regulation will end up applying to very few ships,”said Jeremy Wates, secretary-general of campaign group EEB. “Unless an economic incentive for all ships calling at EU ports is rapidly introduced, circumvention of the law will persist.”

The regulation does nothing to prevent ship owners from changing to a non-EU flag prior to sending their ships for dismantling, in order to avoid the requirements of the EU law.

The campaign group Shipbreaking Platform has warned that the regulation could have the effect of shrinking the number of ships registered under an EU flag.

The group is also upset that the regulation exempts ships from the European Waste Shipment Regulation, which implements the Basel Convention protecting developing countries from the dumping of hazardous waste. They say this exemption is in violation of the convention’s requirements.