Shipbreaking NGO Wins FPSO Case

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

November 19, 2019

The North Sea Producer beached in Chattogram – © NGO Shipbreaking Platform

The North Sea Producer beached in Chattogram – © NGO Shipbreaking Platform

The High Court Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh declared the import, beaching and breaking of the infamous FPSO North Sea Producer illegal.

The judgment was issued in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by NGO Shipbreaking Platform member organization Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA).

The Court further noted with dismay the incessant violations of national and international laws by the shipbreaking industry, and passed several directions upon the government to regulate the sector in line with earlier rulings.

Already in August 2017, the Bangladesh Court had issued an injunction on the ongoing breaking of the North Sea Producer based on the detection of radiation levels higher than permitted.

It has now directed national agencies to monitor the breaking of what is left of the FPSO without any involvement of Janata Steel, the yard that had beached the vessel in 2016. The Department of Environment has also been directed to claim compensation from the yard for having violated national environmental rules.    

Syeda Rizwana Hasan - Supreme Court lawyer and Director of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association, said: "The judgment is important in that it has expressly called the import, beaching and breaking permits illegal, and for the first time a breaker has been put off the breaking operation and the government has been given the steering. It is even more important because it has required the government to regulate the dubious roles of the cash buyers and restrict import from grey- and black-listed flag registries. This will surely make it difficult for the unscrupulous players to treat Bangladesh as a dumping ground."

Noting the plethora of illegalities and the lack of transparency in the sector, the Court directed authorities to i) subject cash buyers and agents to stricter scrutiny, including a detailed recording of their particulars, and to hold them accountable to the strictest sanctions; ii) regulate the import of vessels registered under “last voyage” grey- or black-listed flags which are particularly popular with cash buyers, including Comoros, Palau and St. Kits and Nevis, and; iii) ensure that no vessel is imported without proper verifiable pre-cleaning certificates and declarations of in-built hazardous wastes, and/or by yards that do not fully comply with the requirements for obtaining an Environmental Clearance.

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