Recyclingportal.eu – Belgium is preventing an illegal ship export to India; NGO applauds

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10 June 2014 - Brussels — After having been alerted by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, a coalition of environmental, human rights and labour organisations, the Flemish Environment Ministry has seized the end-of-life car carrier “Global Spirit”. The vessel is not allowed to leave the port of Antwerp before the Japanese owners provide evidence that the vessel will be dismantled in accordance with European waste law.

“We applaud Belgium for having stopped the Japanese ship from sailing to Alang, India where the vessel would have been broken under very hazardous conditions, an export which would have been illgal under European law,” said Ingvild Jenssen, Policy Advisor of the NGO Platform on Shipbreaking.  “On the shipbreaking beaches of Alang labour rights are poorly respected and pollution laws weak or not-enforced  -  the conditions we see in India would never be allowed in Europe, nor Japan.”

Sold to shipbreaking beaches in India

The Platform alerted the Belgian authorities earlier this week after it had been reported that the Global Spirit was sold to the infamous shipbreaking beaches in India where at least six workers have died so far this year crushed by steel plates and many more are sickened by occupational disease due to ship-borne hazardous substances like asbestos or PCBs. 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, it can be allowed to be exported to South Asia. The Regulation was designed to prevent the environmental injustice of rich countries exporting their toxic wastes to impoverished countries lacking the technology and infrastructure to manage such wastes.

The end-of-life vehicle carrier Global Spirit has been used to transport cars for Nissan-Renault on a regular route Morocco-EU-Turkey under long term time charter with Hoegh Autoliners managed by Autotrans based in France. The owners of the Global Spirit have already communicated to the NGO Shipbreaking Platform that they are currently looking for an alternative breaking destination for the ship.

Sustainable solution asked

“We now call on the Japanese owners of the ship, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Limited (MOL) and Nissan Car Carriers (NCC), to find a sustainable solution for their entire fleet – not only the Global Spirit for which they have been caught red-handed – and adopt a company policy on ship recycling that will ensure the safe and green recycling of all their ships off the beach” said Ingvild Jenssen.

Last year Japanese ship owner MOL sold six end-of-life ships to South Asian shipbreakers , prioritising the best price for the ships and ignoring the harm done to workers, local communities and the environment. The charterers of the Global Spirit, Hoegh Autoliners, which is also a 20 percent shareholder in NCC, has already adopted a sustainable ship recycling policy for their ships ‘off the beach’. More and more progressive  ship owners today refuse to sell their end-of-life ships to substandard beach breaking yards and the new EU Ship Recycling Regulation has set a clear standard for safer and greener practices that disqualify the beaching practice.