Saturday, August 28, 2010

Shipping Graveyards Should Be Shamed Into Safer Practices

Turkey Latest Signatory to IMO Convention
Shipping News Feature

TURKEY – WORLDWIDE – This week the International Maritime Organization (IMO) have confirmed that Turkey, one of the five major ship recycling nations in the world, has signed, subject to ratification, the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009. The Hong Kong Convention, adopted at a diplomatic conference in May 2009, is aimed at ensuring that ships, when being recycled after reaching the end of their operational lives, do not pose any unnecessary risk to human health and safety or to the environment.

We illustrated in our video illustrated article last year the horrific circumstances in which the people who work in the shipbreaking industry are forced to operate in many countries around the world. This convention is designed to ensure that not only are the conditions under which ship dismantlers work safe and environmentally acceptable, but that all major issues surrounding ship recycling, including the fact that ships sold for scrapping may contain environmentally hazardous substances such as asbestos, heavy metals, hydrocarbons, ozone-depleting chemicals, are suitably addressed.

Often ships allegedly containing noxious materials, such as the infamous Platinum ll, are simply shuffled around until someone agrees to accept them for breaking, often under extremely dubious circumstances. With parts of the world, like China, avaricious for steel, profits can be high and standards can be lowered, often fatally.

The text of the ship recycling Convention was developed over a three year period, with input from IMO Member States and relevant non-governmental organizations, and in co-operation with the International Labour Organization and the Parties to the Basel Convention, and includes regulations covering the design, construction, operation and preparation of ships so as to facilitate safe and environmentally sound recycling, without compromising the safety and operational efficiency of ships; the operation of ship recycling facilities in a safe and environmentally sound manner; and the establishment of an appropriate enforcement mechanism for ship recycling, incorporating certification and reporting requirements.

To date, the Convention has been signed, subject to ratification or acceptance, by France, Italy, the Netherlands, Saint Kitts and Nevis and now Turkey. The major dismantlers such as India, Bangladesh and China are conspicuous by their absence. The Convention has been open for signature by any State from 1 September 2009 and will remain so until 31 August 2010. Thereafter, it shall be open for accession by any State.

It will enter into force 24 months after the date on which 15 States, representing 40 per cent of world merchant shipping by gross tonnage, have either signed it without reservation as to ratification, acceptance or approval or lodged such agreements with the IMO Secretary‑General. The combined maximum annual ship recycling volume of those States must, during the preceding 10 years, constitute not less than 3 per cent of their combined merchant shipping tonnage.