Shipbreaking Laws to be Tightened by European Union

Press Release
Sunday, March 25, 2012

EU propose new regulations affecting scrapyards, shipowners

The European Commission has proposed new rules to ensure that European ships are only recycled in facilities that are safe for workers and environmentally sound. More than 1000 large old commercial ships, such as tankers and container vessels, are recycled for their scrap metal every year, but many European ships end up in substandard facilities on the tidal beaches of South Asia.

These facilities mostly lack the environmental protection and safety measures needed to manage the hazardous materials contained in end-of-life ships. These include asbestos, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), tributyl tin and oil sludge. This leads to high accident rates and health risks for workers and extensive environmental pollution. The new rules, which will take the form of a Regulation, propose a system of survey, certification and authorisation for large commercial seagoing vessels that fly the flag of an EU Member State, covering their whole life cycle from construction to operation and recycling.

Under the new system, European ships will have to draw up an inventory of the hazardous materials present on board, and apply for an inventory certificate. The amount of hazardous waste on board (including in cargo residues, fuel oil, etc.) must be reduced before the ship is delivered to a recycling facility.

To ensure compliance, the proposal requires ship owners to report to national authorities when they intend to send a ship for recycling. By comparing the list of ships for which they have issued an inventory certificate with the list of ships which have been recycled in authorized facilities, authorities should be able to spot illegal recycling more easily.

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