Tradewinds – MOL mulls alternatives for demolition of ‘toxic’ vessel

(Written by Adam Corbett)

13 June 2014 - Japanese owner blames paperwork errors for vessel arrest in Belgium last week

Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) says it is considering alternative demolition sites for the 47,500-gt Global Spirit (built 1987) after the car carrier was arrested in Belgium last week for allegedly breaching European environmental rules prior to demolition in India.

The vessel was due to head for India — after a final voyage — to be broken up until Belgium’s environmental authorities were alerted to a breach of waste regulation by specialist green lobby group NGO Shipbreaking Platform.

The organisation protested against the shipbreaking plan based on India’s poor safety and environmental record in ship recycling, adding it believed the vessel is “toxic” waste.

Under the current European Union Waste Shipment Regulation (WSR), vessels involved in exporting from Europe must be recycled in OECD member state countries.

The Global Spirit is owned by World Car Carriers, a joint venture company involving MOL, Nissan Car Carriers and Hoegh Autoliners, which had earlier sold the ship for demolition to Alang.

It was loading a cargo of secondhand cars in Belgium for a final voyage when it was arrested.

The situation is a potentially embarrassing one for MOL, which prides itself on its environmental performance and compliance procedures.

An MOL spokesperson says the company is aware of the regulations but that there are “flaws” in its WSR paperwork to the authorities, which led to the arrest of the vessel.

“At present, the necessary process is being taken to solve [the problem] at the soonest,” she said. “An alternative site is also being reviewed.”

NGO Shipbreaking Platform’s Ingvlid Jenssen says she believes that Turkey is the only likely alternative for the vessel to be demolished. “Only an OECD destination that can ensure environmentally sound management during dismantling and downstream treatment of the wastes will be accepted by Belgian authorities,” she said.

NGO Shipbreaking Platform earlier alleged that the owners turned down the chance to scrap the ship in Turkey so as to secure a higher price.

It claimed the vessel was sold to India for $512 per ldt, or $6.5m, compared to an offer of $380 per ldt to scrap the vessel in Turkey.

The Global Spirit remained under arrest as TradeWinds went to press and it is understood the cargo of secondhand cars has now been unloaded.