Monday, December 22, 2014

Chinese Ship Breaking Yards Aim to Scrap European Merchant Vessels

First Applications to Join EU Recycling Scheme Received
Shipping News Feature

EU – CHINA – WORLDWIDE – With environmental concerns and policies becoming ever more important to all industry stakeholders there remains one giant elephant in shipping’s living room, the disposal of vessels long past their best. Five years ago we illustrated the horrors of ship breaking on the Indian subcontinent and elsewhere in South Asia using suitable video evidence, and we told of the walls of silence surrounding an industry within an industry where ecological worries are often simply ignored in the name of profit.

Competition for this business is fierce so it was encouraging last week when, backed by no less that Lloyd’s Register (LR), two Chinese ship recycling yards, reputedly the largest such facilities in the world, applied for inclusion in the future EU list of Ship Recycling Facilities. The application follows the new Ship Recycling Regulation of the European Commission which was adopted in November 2013. The new regulations followed the adoption of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Hong Kong International Ship Recycling Convention of May 2009 which ordained that only environmentally sound materials were to be included in vessels of the future.

Under the terms of the Convention Ship recycling yards are required to provide a Ship Recycling Plan, specifying the manner in which each individual ship will be recycled, depending on its particulars and its inventory and all parties involved to take audited, effective measures to ensure that ship recycling facilities under their jurisdiction comply with the Convention.

To be included in the approved EU list of approved facilities all recycling yards will have to conform to the requirements of the authorities and, if outside the EU, will be subjected to scrutiny by the European Commission to ensure compliance with the strict regulations. To ensure compliance the two Chinese groups, Zhoushan Changhong International Ship Recycling and Jiangyin Xiagang Changjiang Ship Recycling, sought assistance from Lloyd’s Register. Jim Heath, LR’s Ship Recycling Product Manager, commented:

"By inviting LR to provide independent third-party assessment of their Ship Recycling Facility Plans, the Zhoushan and Jiangyin yards have not just moved in advance of regulation; they have recognised the importance of attaining independent, reputable certification to help differentiate themselves from the significant number of yards who are unable to demonstrate they operate in accordance with IMO or EU requirements."

With reported capacities respectively of 1.1 and 1.2 million Light Displacement Tonnes, Zhoushan and Jiangyin also consulted with the Rotterdam headquartered Sea2Cradle organisation which has assisted a number of leading ship owners to recycle their vessels at the Chinese facilities concerned by ensuring their compliance with international, regional and local regulatory requirements. Sea2Cradle’s Tom Peter Blankestijn emphasised how helpful it had proved working together with LR and went on to say:

“With the experience of executing close to a 100 projects these yards have developed into the best in the world offering the highest standards on Health Safety and Environment in the industry. We are very proud that these are the first yards, also from outside the OECD, to apply for EU approval”

An environmental team from the EU visited the yards in question in 2013 and apparently lodged a favourable report whilst the EU itself was applauded by Secretary General Bernard Veldhoven of the International Ship Recycling Association (ISRA) for their legislative work, who said that Europe had shown that when there is a political will, legislation can change the dynamics of an industry in a relatively short period. He also confirmed more ISRA members were expected to join the accreditation process and he praised the work done by Mr Li Hongwei owner of both Chinese yards for ‘offering a green alternative [to vessel owners] for phasing out their ships.’

Photo: The precise moment a giant bulkhead separates and drops away as the cutting torch scythes through the hull formers.