26 June 2014 - The 47,500 gross ton car carrier Global Spirit, detained on 5th of June 2014 at the port of Antwerp, has been released by the Belgian environmental authorities. After discussions, the vessel has been allowed to proceed on its voyage to an approved ship recycling yard in Turkey. Here the vessel will be recycled.
The Belgian authorities have stressed the importance of the rapid entry into force of the Hong Kong Convention which is better adapted to the needs and concerns of the shipping industry that the local relevant regulations and notes that the European Ship Recycling Regulation will not provide a solution for ships flying the flag of a third country when going for recycling.
Belgium will thereto speed up its accession process to the Hong Kong Convention, which it believe is the best guarantee and the only way forward for sustainable ship recycling, within and outside the OECD. Within this framework, Belgium urges a full investigation into how workers and the environment can be adequately protected during the ship recycling process, regardless the technique used.
It is also the responsibility of the European Commission and the Member States to support and assist ship recycling facilities in third countries who are truly undertaking meaningful efforts, says the Belgian authorities. That way not only can all sustainable recycling facilities can distinguish themselves and be rewarded for the efforts taken, but it also provides hope for those facilities that still have a longer way to go.
According to the European Union Waste Shipment Regulation, only if all hazardous materials, such as asbestos, residue oils and toxic paints, are removed from the Global Spirit could it be allowed to be exported to South Asia, says NGO Shipbreaking Platform.
The NGO had alerted the Belgian authorities of the vessel’s proposed movements after it had been reported that the Global Spirit was sold to the shipbreaking beaches in India. It says that at least six workers have died at Indian Shipbreaking yards so far this year and many more have been taken ill by occupational disease due to ship-borne hazardous substances like asbestos and PCBs.