Breaking Ships on Tidal Beaches is Illegal

Monday, March 23, 2009

The International Ship Recycling Association (ISRA) is quite clear; Bangladeshi ship breakers who are using tidal beaches are, as ISRA understands the court decision, illegal. The ruling by the Bangladeshi High Court on the petition filed by the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association to close the ship breaking yards is a logical outcome as beaching practices are against future international law. The court order seems to confirm ISRA’s point that the practice of using a tidal beach as a facility for breaking ships is not a safe and environmental appropriate practice for recycling ships. According to ISRA, the International Maritime Organization can do nothing else than to confirm this in the upcoming Convention on Ship Recycling.

“It is unbelievable that there are still organizations who are claiming that green recycling is possible on the beaches of Bangladesh” said Bernard Veldhoven Secretary of ISRA. “Only facilities working according to standards for environmentally sound and safe working practice like ISRA’s are able to do this”.

Breaking ships is easy, but at the same time taking care of the environment is more difficult and requires pre-cleaning facilities and procedures, waste separation and treatment infrastructure, training etc. But it is possible.

Yards in China, Turkey, Netherlands and the U.S. prove this. Also capacity is increasing, now that more ship new building facilities are focusing on ship recycling opportunities, at a time when new ship orders are lacking.

ISRA earlier explained to Bangladeshi stakeholders during a seminar in Dakka that Chittagong offers proper waterways and jetties as an adequate alternative solution. ISRA is welcome to offer assistance and expertise to fulfill this opportunity.  Only when all three competent authorities (Environment, Maritime and Labour) jointly manage the sector and establish the linkage with other national frameworks and directives, such as waste , labour and social security regulation etc. can steps in the right direction be made towards a sound legal frame work in which ship recycling facilities can be recognized and regulated.

“With 1000 ships to be scrapped this year we all have a social responsibility to ensure that this will be done without any harm to the environment or the people, this is possible but only when international standards are being adhered too; we can help” said Arjen Uytendaal Director of ISRA.

The secretariat of I.S.R.A is located in The Hague, The Netherlands. This location was chosen as the association is incorporated in The Netherlands and the location is both nearby Brussels, Belgium (centre of the European Union and Commission) and nearby London, UK (centre of many maritime related activities and head office of the International Maritime Organisation, for which I.S.R.A seeks for a consultative status).


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