Lloyds List reported yesterday that the EU has proposed a new system for ship recycling within the EU that moves away from the less favourable Basel Convention and towards the Hong Kong Convention 2009 for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships.
It is well known that most of the world’s ship recycling goes on at the yards of India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and China – all countries outside of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Many EU ship owners felt they were forced to illegally send EU flagged ships to the South Asian beaches, as this is where the majority of ship breaking sites reside.
The Hong Kong Convention is designed to ensure all ship dismantling sites become safer, wherever their location. One of the key elements of the Convention is the Inventory of Hazardous Materials, which has been dubbed the ‘green passport’ for ships, containing a list of all hazardous materials as classified by the IMO, and their location on the vessel. This document would then be required for all commercial vessels over a certain tonnage once the Convention comes into force. As Lloyds list reported, “This should be incentive enough to comply with the reasonable and attainable standards required by the Hong Kong Convention” http://www.lloydslist.com/ll/sector/regulation/article372956.ece
However, this week has also been the date of the Informa Ship Recycling Conference in London, at which the countries of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh fought back against claims that their methods of ship dismantling are still unsafe. According to Dr Shyam Asolekar, from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, the Indian government prioritize worker safety and welfare, and he hopes India will sign up to the Hong Kong Convention soon (http://www.lloydslist.com/ll/sector/ship-operations/article372993.ece).
It does appear that with the support of the Indian sub-continent where ship breaking is so relied upon for the economy, the Hong Kong Convention could be the future of shipping, providing all ship breaking/recycling sites across the world with a universal guidance to protect all workers in all countries from the danger that the industry currently entails, not only from imminent dangers such as structurally unsound ships but also hidden dangers such as asbestos and other hazardous materials – the silent killers.