Tradewinds – Scrappers team up to fend off threat from Brussels

(Written by Geoff Garfield)

14 March 2014 - Fear of beaching being banned by Europe sees Indian subcontinent recyclers join forces

Ship recyclers responsible for scrapping around 75% of world tonnage have joined forces to fight moves threatening the future of yards in the Indian subcontinent.

Representatives from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are behind the formation of the Federation of Ship Recyclers’ Associations (FSRA) in response to plans that could halt the scrapping of European-flag ships on beaches. More than 60 recyclers from the three countries were in Singapore last week for the TradeWinds Ship Recycling Forum, an event that appears to have acted as a catalyst for the formation of the FSRA. A similar attempt was made in 2010.

The new organisation comprises two representatives from each country and includes well-known names, including Nitin Kanakiya, honorary secretary of the Ship Recycling Industries Association (India), Asif Ali Khan, honorary general secretary of the Pakistan Ship Breakers Association and, from the Bangladesh Ship Breakers Association, Captain Anam Chowdhury and M Zahirul Islam.

An FSRA meeting is being planned for April, possibly at a neutral venue but with the objective of exchanging ideas on ways of improving safety and environmental protection — the key concerns prompting Brussels to fast-track a new European Ship Recycling Regulation (SRR).

In a joint statement to Trade-Winds, the FSRA, which aims to meet at least twice a year, said the crucial issue it faces is a potential ban on beaching stemming from a European Commisson (EC) requirement for ships to be dismantled using a “built structure”.

The FSRA argues that both “built structure” and the EC requirement in the SRR also for an impermeable floor and drainage system to prevent the leakage of hazardous substances into the soil in intertidal zones can be addressed in different ways that are both economically feasible and practicable for Indian subcontinent yards.

Efforts by the EC to involve stakeholders in clarifying guidelines for the new European regulation are welcomed by the FSRA. It says it wants to have its voice heard in Brussels but indicates that it will object strongly should interpretation of the guidelines not accommodate “basic conditions” at Indian subcontinent scrapping facilities.

Bitterly opposed to the continued beaching of ships are pressure groups such as the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, whose executive director, Patrizia Heidegger, says that if Europe includes any such facilities on its pending approved-ship-recycling-facilities list, it would create a scandal.