EU-flagged vessels now have to be recycled in EU-approved yards, none of which are the Hong Kong Convention-compliant yards in southeast Asia. Experts discuss the gaps in the legislation in the Riviera webinar
International Ship Recycling Association (ISRA) director Reinoud Pijpers presented the background to current ship recycling legislation, saying, “the EU List is driving up the standards to the level that they should be”.
ISRA, which works to promote and facilitate the environmentally sound and safe recycling of ships, says it represents the most environmentally responsible yards in the world. Having achieved these standards, the organisation says its role is to promote the requirement for a ’level playing field’ across all ship recycling.
Supportive of regulations aimed at creating consistency in ship recycling, ISRA was active in the IMO development of The Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, and the EU Ship Recycling legislation.
A number of facilities in Asia have obtained certification stating they are operating in line with Hong Kong Convention standards but beaching remains the main form of delivering the vessels to the yard.
On the role of beaching in the ship recycling sector, Mr Pijpers was very clear. “Beaching can never be a necessity. We have to solve this problem of ship recycling in another way,” he said.
ISRA said this is a weakness in the Hong Kong Convention – states approve facilities and, as such, the convention does not have the level of control that exists within EU regulations.
“This (control) is composed of two components,” Mr Pijpers said. “The first is the EU List (of approved yards) and the extra-territorial framework.” The second is the technical criteria laid down by the EU and monitored by the EU.
This removes the political involvement, according to ISRA. “For the time being, we (ISRA) are very satisfied with the (EU) Commission,” he said.
However, while ISRA is satisfied with the efforts of the EU Commission, member states have fallen short. “Member states are not active. You can have a very good regulation but with no enforcement, you do not have a very good regulation,” Mr Pijpers said.
In a webinar poll, attendees were asked if they consider the EU to be right in introducing local legislation governing ship recycling, given the lack of substantive state acceptance of the Hong Kong Convention.
The majority of responses (66%) were in agreement that the EU was right to introduce local legislation.
Nick Environmental Services of the Netherlands, which describes itself as the one-stop shop for environmental services in shipping, represented those who conduct ship recycling operations. Founder Nikolas Panagakis asked the shipowners and operators in the audience whether they consider that "running a ship for five or 25 years grants you, or exempts you, from the responsibility for the recycling of that asset”?
Mr Panagakis pointed out that the Hong Kong Convention is not in force and wondered if that means the legislation is too ambitious.
Responding to that question via poll, no one responded that the legislation was too ambitious, and just over half those polled (51%) felt that the Hong Kong Convention was about right.
Mr Panagakis pointed to flaws in the EU legislation including different rules on hazardous materials – asbestos has to be handled in a different manner in Germany as compared to Belgium or the UK, for instance. Although the root of the legislation is the same, adoption of legislation by EU members is implemented through each state’s individual procedures.
Mr Panagakis had another pertinent question for owners. “Who will end up in arbitration or litigation?" he asked and then answered. "The owners.”
Therefore, he asked, who have you entrusted in your organisation to carry out ship recycling, and it this being reported to the highest level in the organisation?
Bringing a laser-like analysis to the difference between the EU legislation and that of IMO was Reed Smith Richards Butler partner and Master Mariner, Peter Glover.
Mr Glover noted that the way IMO makes legislation is by consensus. Due to the process, he said the resulting legislation is not aiming for the lowest common denominator, but it cannot achieve the highest possible standard. There are only 15 signatories to the Hong Kong Convention out of 194 IMO member states and three associate members.
In comparison, the EU approach, he said, is a top-down push for bottom-up change. The EU legislation (1257/2013 known as EU SRR) on ship recycling will be influential. Some 40% of all ships are under beneficial ownership of EU interests, 20% are registered under EU flags and EU-flagged ships account for 10% of the total number of recycled ships.
Regarding beaching as part of the ship recycling process, Mr Glover said, “While the (EU) SRR closely follows the Hong Kong Convention structure, concepts and definitions, we find parting when it comes to beaching. You could argue that under Article 13, sub-section c, f, and h*, we effectively have a prohibition on the beaching practice of ships.”
The final poll of the webinar addressed the question at the heart of the debate. Would you prefer the Hong Kong Convention to apply on an international level or prefer individual states to implement potentially diverse rules on ship recycling?
In an overwhelming result, 97% chose the application of the Hong Kong Convention on an international level.
From left to right: Nikolas Panagakis, (Nick Environmental Services), Reinoud Pijpers, (ISRA), (Reed Smith Richards Butler)
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*EU SRR Article 13:
Requirements necessary for ship recycling facilities to be included in the European List:
1) In order to be included in the European List, a ship recycling facility shall comply with the following requirements, in accordance with the relevant Hong Kong Convention provisions and taking into account the relevant guidelines of the IMO, the ILO, the Basel Convention and of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants and of other international guidelines:
(c) it operates from built structures;
(f)it prevents adverse effects on human health and the environment, including the demonstration of the control of any leakage, in particular in intertidal zones;
(g)it ensures safe and environmentally sound management and storage of hazardous materials and waste, including:
(h)it establishes and maintain an emergency preparedness and response plan; ensures rapid access for emergency response equipment, such as fire-fighting equipment and vehicles, ambulances and cranes, to the ship and all areas of the ship recycling facility;
it provides for worker safety and training, including ensuring the use of personal protective equipment for operations requiring such use.