A strategy for better ship dismantling practices
The Commission has adopted a Community strategy aimed at making practices for the dismantling of old ships safer for workers and for the environment. Although the European Union has transposed the Basel Convention on movements of hazardous waste as well as its amendment concerning the ban on exporting this type of waste to countries which do not belong to the OECD into Community law, the situation is not satisfactory.
Many decommissioned European ships end up on the beaches of South Asia where they are dismantled. The absence of environmental protection and safety measures results in a high rate of accidents, health risks and large-scale pollution affecting vast expanses of the coast. The strategy proposed to improve ship dismantling practices includes action aimed at contributing to the implemention of the main elements of an international convention on the recycling of ships which has just been adopted. It also provides for measures aimed at encouraging voluntary action by the maritime transport sector and better application of current Community legislation on waste shipments.
Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 19 November 2008 - An EU strategy for better ship dismantling [COM(2008) 767 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
The European Union (EU) strategy gives effect to the 2007 Green Paper on better ship dismantling practices. This strategy should guarantee that ships with a strong link to the Union (in terms of flag or ownership) are dismantled only in safe and environmentally sound facilities, in line with the Hong Kong Convention developed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and adopted on 19 May 2009.
Such a strategy complies with Regulation (EC) No 1013/2006 on waste shipments which transposes the Basel Convention. It thus aims to prevent the export of hazardous end-of-life ships from the EU to developing countries, and to protect human health and the environment during dismantling operations, without creating unnecessary new economic burdens.
Main elements of the strategy proposed by the Commission
The EU strategy proposes a series of measures aimed at improving ship dismantling conditions as soon as possible, in particular during the interim period preceding the entry into force of the new IMO convention. The following measures are envisaged in particular:
- start preparations to introduce measures on key elements of the new IMO convention, in particular concerning surveys, certification and the inventory of hazardous materials present on board ships;
- encourage voluntary industry action through various measures, such as awards for exemplary “green” recycling activities, the publication of guidelines and a list of “clean” dismantling facilities.
- provide technical assistance and support to developing countries for training programmes in safety and the establishment of basic infrastructure for environmental and health protection;
- improve the application of current rules on waste shipments by intensifying controls in European ports, enhancing cooperation and exchange of information between European authorities and the establishment of a list of ships ready for scrapping.
The strategy also proposes that the Commission should examine the feasibility of the following measures:
- establish auditing and certification of ship recycling facilities worldwide and evaluate how EU ships might be encouraged to use this scheme;
- ensure that warships and other government vessels which do not come under the scope of the convention be subject to Community rules for their “clean” dismantling;
- establish a mandatory international funding system for “clean” ship dismantling.
The preparation of an EU strategy for environmentally sound ship dismantling practices is one of the elements of the Commission action plan on an integrated maritime policy for the European Union.
This Communication has the aim of encouraging debate and paving the way for the legislative proposal to be presented after the adoption of the Hong Kong Convention in May 2009.