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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Tokyo Global Ship Recycling Workshop – disparity in approach between China and India

A workshop focused on “Establishing the Global Framework in Ship Recycling”, organised and hosted this week in Tokyo by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and the Ocean Policy Research Foundation, drew in key players from around the world to discuss the relevance of this important issue to ship owning, shipbuilding and recycling states in South East Asia.


Delegates were given a detailed overview of the draft International Convention by Norway’s Sveinung Oftedal. Then Xu Shiming of the Maritime Authority in Beijing spoke of the developments within China and India in respect of improving safety and environmental standards at the recycling facilities. China’s Chang Jiang Recycling Yard is being used as a test facility in which to apply the Basel Convention, ILO and IMO Guidelines, and to trial the draft IMO Convention - with the facility achieving full compliance.


While this is encouraging for owners looking to use more advanced recycling facilities, Xu Shiming was quick to add that such developments come at a price and that ship owners should expect to see a reduction on the scrap value of a vessel that is recycled in and environmentally sound and safe manner.


Conversely, Dilip Mehrotra, representing the Indian ship recyclers, emphasised the need for ship owners to under take prior cleaning and decontamination before sending a vessel for recycling. This illustrated an interesting disparity in the two approaches to new demands on recycling facilities. On the one hand the Chinese yards are looking to enhance their management systems to cater for the expected demand for greener recycling. On the other hand Mehrotra suggested that Indian facilities see the matter as the responsibility of the ship owner - to bring about this change in recycling methods, Indian facilities would prefer the vessel to arrive ready-cleaned of hazardous materials and pre-prepared for dismantling.


In later discussions on the issue of the Basel Convention, delegates voiced their concern over the possibility of the shipping industry being requested to comply simultaneously with two important Conventions - the IMO’s Convention on Ship Recycling and the Basel Convention. The UK and Norway both consider that the IMO Convention, provided it ensures an equal level of protection for the environment and human health as the Basel Convention, should take precedent. However there is a need to consider a mechanism for the removal of ships from the Basel Convention.


During the panel discussion, which involved INTERTANKO’s Environment Manager Tim Wilkins, three main issues emerged.


Firstly, there is concern that the European Commission might force a regional regime and require ships entering European waters to provide hazardous materials inventories or Green Passports, and that this could take place prior to the completion of the IMO Convention.


Secondly, there was discussion on what should be undertaken during the interim period up to when the Convention enters into force. Wilkins suggested that mounting pressure from the EU to implement requirements in the interim period means that the industry could actually use this opportunity to demonstrate its leadership on the issue of recycling and provide evidence that ship owners are indeed implementing the IMO Guidelines by developing hazardous materials inventories, requesting Green Passports on newbuildings, assessing methods to ensure tanks are gas-free and seeking to use recycling facilities which have demonstrated a more progressive approach to worker safety and the marine environment.


Thirdly, delegates raised the important question of the detail of the hazardous materials inventory HMI and the quantities which need to be included. Just as it is the responsibility of the ship owner to ensure that fuel is in conformity with its described sulphur content, so the question was posed as to who would be responsible if a quantity on the HMI was found to be incorrect or that a substance had been found but not included in the HMI.


It was evident that the region has a great deal to lose or gain depending on the direction this issue takes on the global stage. Ship owning and shipbuilding countries in SE Asia should actively participate at the IMO during the development of this International Convention.


Contact: Tim Wilkins