HazMat Management – EU blasted over vote on toxic ships export

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3 July 2013 - The European Union (EU) has aligned its ship recycling regulations with the Hong Kong Convention, angering hundreds of organizations that say the change will allow European vessels to dump hazardous waste in developing nations.

The regulation was approved June 27, 2013 by a vote in the European Council, but critics are claiming the vote contravenes established international agreements under the United Nations Basel Convention and Ban Amendment.

“What Europe has done is a slap in the face to developing countries everywhere,” said Jim Puckett in a July 1, 2013 statement to media. Puckett is executive director of the Basel Action Network, known as BAN. “Europe has a powerful shipping industry lobby, but we never expected the EU to make a unilateral and blatantly illegal departure from their international legal obligations just to allow toxic ship exports to continue.”

The EU regulation bans shipping companies from beaching European-registered vessels in coastal areas for dismantling. But under pressure from national governments, a Parliament-backed effort to require EU inspections of overseas facilities recycling ships was stripped from the legislation and exemptions were made for potentially toxic contents.

“The new Ship Recycling Regulation very cynically promotes illegal traffic in hazardous waste that would never be allowed for any other industry,” said Puckett. “We have a situation now in Europe where it is a criminal act to export on old computer to India but perfectly legal to export a toxic ship. It makes a shocking and shameful mockery of Europe’s alleged concern for human rights and the environment.”