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Ship recycling at a low ebb, conference hears

Global – Vessel recycling figures have been declining sharply over recent years, it was confirmed at the Informa Ship Recycling Conference held recently in London.

Some US$ 5.1 billion worth of vessels had been recycled in 2012, falling to US$ 4 billion in 2013 and just US$ 3 billion last year, reported Vagelis Chatzigiannis, a Dubai-based trader and responsible recycling co-ordinator for leading cash buyer GMS. The light displacement tonnage numbers for the respective years were 12.1 million, 10.9 million and 4.5 million – and he predicted a figure for this year of just 3.5 million.

Also at the Informa conference, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform – set up to hold the shipping industry accountable for its vessel disposal practices – was accused of ‘exaggeration, distortion and lies’ on worker safety.

Dr Nikos Mikelis, former head of ship recycling at the International Maritime Organization (IMO), said: ‘NGO claims there have been no changes for 35 000 workers in India since the 1980s, but it’s not true. They’ve got drinking water, toilets, health insurance. This is ignored. Injured workers are extracted from the vessel exactly as in other countries. This fact is distorted. Indian yards are ready to listen to the international community. We should not shoot them.’

According to Ramesh Aggarwal, honorary secretary of India’s Ship Recycling Industries Association, a ban on beaching would put the domestic industry at Alang in jeopardy. ‘We have been making improvements and the IMO has recognised this, but we always get adverse publicity, and we have a problem accessing funds,’ he told delegates.

*A full report on the conference will appear in the August issue of Recycling International.

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