2 August 2012 - At the most recent Basel Convention meeting in October 2011, 178 countries called for rapidly implementing a full ban on the export of toxic wastes of all kinds from developed to developing countries. However, the Basel meeting is pointedly at odds with the European Union’s recently proposed ship recycling regulation, which seeks to remove ships from existing legislation that forbids export of hazardous wastes from Europe to developing countries.
The proposed regulation attempts to substitute existing rules with far weaker ones under a separate International Maritime Organization regime known as the Hong Kong Convention. The NGO Shipbreaking Platform notes that the Hong Kong Convention is not in force and when it does become law can in no way be seen as a substitute for the Basel Convention. In October 2011, a majority of the Basel Parties agreed that the Hong Kong Convention does not provide an equivalent level of protection to especially developing countries as that provided by the Basel Convention.
“It is sadly ironic that at a time when major shipbreaking countries such as India and Bangladesh are saying we no longer wish to have our beaches become the dumping ground for toxic waste ships, the European Union seems ready to abandon its former export prohibition and say to these countries, well yes you do!” said Ingvild Jenssen, Director of the NGO Platform. “The European proposal is sadly an obvious move to give the shipping industry what they want most – agreement that the Basel Convention will not apply to them.”