15 October 2014 - The Vietnamese government is introducing a law that is aimed at building the country’s shipbreaking industry amid claims that it will create serious environmental issues. The revised Law on Environmental Protection is due to take effect on January 1, 2015 and it will allow the import of ships intended for demolition.
According to VNS, Duong Thanh An, director of the Department of Policy and Legal Affairs of the Viet Nam Environmental Administration, has stipulated that importers will be required to prepare an application package that includes an environmental protection dossier. The dossier includes a declaration of the actual state of the ship, a written commitment to abide by environmental standards and a copy of the ship yard’s certificate of satisfaction of environmental protection conditions. “Environmental damage insurance is also a must,” An said.
The country’s maritime administration has indicated that a ship recycling industry would generate high quality input for the local steel industry. In 2012, Vietnam imported around four million tons of scrap steel, mostly from China. Since 2012, the need for steel imports has reportedly increased by 2.5 million due to a number of new steel companies entering the market, says VNS.
The maritime administration’s director Nguyen Nhat says the new law will boost the local economy and create new opportunities for the shipbuilding industry which is experiencing low activity levels at present.
Do Thai Binh, a shipbuilding engineer from HCM City’s Marine Science and Technology University argues that the industry would be beneficial to the environment as it involves the re-use of over 95 percent of a ship. However, Binh stresses the importance of the law. “The regulations shouldn’t be only those on paper. Recycling enterprises should be inspected carefully to determine how best to deal with toxic waste from the ships,” he told VNS.
Professor Pham Ngoc Dang, Vice President of the Viet Nam Association for Environment and Nature Protection, has warned about the threats of toxic wastes such as oil, asbestos and heavy metals like mercury, lead, copper, zinc, aluminium and iron.
Deputy Minister of Transport, Nguyen Van Cong, said that businesses engaging in shipbreaking will have to satisfy all the legal conditions for capacity, experience and environmental protection.