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‘Enough capacity to scrap EU flagged ships’

Claims there will be not be enough EU-approved recycling yards when new rules are introduced next year are being disputed in a new report.

Research by two non-governmental organisations, Shipbreaking Platform and the European Federation for Transport and Environment, rejects attempts by the shipping industry to extend the list of facilities around the world where EU-flagged ships at their end of life can be dismantled.

Their report accuses the industry of wanting to use lower-cost ship-breaking yards ‘with dangerous working conditions and poor environmental standards’. Ship owners argue that those on the list of 20 currently approved facilities will not be able to meet demand when regulations change on 1 January 2019.

New yards to be added

But the report argues: “Yards operating in Italy, Norway, Turkey and the US are further expected to be included on the list … adding additional capacity for clean and safe recycling. This report demonstrates that the argument presented by the ship owners on the lack of capacity under the EU Ship Recycling Regulation No 1257/2013 is simply another poor excuse to justify the continued use of the low-cost and substandard method of beaching.”

Yards in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh using the beaching method are the organisations’ particular concern, because the vessels contain hazardous materials, including asbestos, chlorine compounds, heavy metals and residue oils.

The report adds: ‘On a tidal mudflat, it is not possible to contain these toxics, and instead they are washed out to the sea, and ravage coastal ecosystems. Without proper protective equipment, workers are exposed to unnecessary risk. Accidents at the beaching yards kill or maim young men each year due to unsafe practices.’

Polluting yards

Shipbreaking Platform’s director Ingvild Jenssen comments: ‘The shipowners’ capacity claims are a clear red herring. Alternatives to beaching end-of-life ships exist. It boils down to not accepting the low occupational safety and environmental protection standards that allow many unapproved yards to operate cheaply.’

The business of breaking EU ships is an opportunity to boost the circular economy and create green jobs in Europe, according to Lucy Gilliam, shipping officer at T&E. ‘EU-listed yards have the capacity to break all EU-flagged ships and more. There is no excuse for sending ships to dangerous and polluting yards on beaches overseas.’

The European Commission, national experts and stakeholders meet on October 3 to discuss the implementation of the regulation.

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