Thursday, February 13, 2020

Eyes of the World on the Disgrace of Ship Breaking Standards in the Indian Subcontinent

Ship Owner Defends How It Now Deals With End of Life Vessels
Shipping News Feature

TAIWAN – WORLDWIDE – Our recent article on ship breaking which highlighted the fact that Evergreen Line, and otherwise owned container ships and tankers vessels past their sell by date were being broken on the beaches of the Indian subcontinent, has elicited a response from the company anxious to prove its green credentials.

Evergreen insist that that its ship demolition and recycling policy requires the shipbreaking yard selected by all buyers of its decommissioned vessels must be not only ISO certified (ISO 9000, 14001, 18001 or 30000), but also implement class approved standards of the 2009 Hong Kong Convention (HKC).

Despite the Convention as yet not being officially in force, Evergreen says it insists on the adoption of such stringent standards in order to ensure the decommissioned vessels being scrapped in a safe and eco-friendly manner. The company says it recently strengthened its contracts by adding a liquidated damage clause into the memorandum of agreement (MOA), which makes it carry heavier weight and deterrent effect for any buyer who is non-compliant.

Evergreen states categorically that, if it is found that recycling of any of the company’s vessels does not fully comply with the stated standards, the company will take all necessary actions to safeguard its values of its green recycling policy. To this end it says the case of the Ever Unison (IMO: 9116591), whose dismantling is imminent, is under review.

Evergreen says it is planning to launch arbitration proceedings against the buyer for breaching the obligation, under the terms of the MOA, to scrap at a HKC green shipyard and, in addition 'considering' seeking an injunction from the High Court to prevent vessel being demolished at its current location, believed to be in Alang, an infamous destination we have often reported on. We await confirmation of this.

There will be no injunction of course for the similarly named Ever Union (IMO: 9116618) which arrived off Chattogram in April 2019 and whose dismantling there by the infamous Kabir Steel resulted in a worker’s death from a fall three months later. Why infamous? The company has seen at least four workers killed when working in similar circumstances over a two year period with shots allegedly fired by the company’s private security staff at those protesting a previous death.

At least three Evergreen ships were bought that year by Kabir, allegedly with input from a UEA company, Nabeel Ship Management. It was a Captain from Nabeel who was commanding the Harrier (formerly Eide Carrier and Tide Carrier) and who failed to alert the authorities when the ship broke down in Norwegian waters en route to be scrapped in South East Asia, leading to prosecutions and a €50,000 fine.

Like the Harrier the Union, a near identical 5,364 TEU container ship, appears to have been registered under the much maligned Palau registry and reflagged, on this occasion however the Unison’s latest flag seems to be that of Singapore.

So what of the latest ships disposed of by Evergreen. We asked the company for more details of the proposed injunction and also the fate of the other two ships disposed of at the same time as the Unison, pointing out that we had found one on the beach at Alang whilst the other appears to have already been consigned to history. We have now received the following response:

  • “Regarding the Ever Unison, the legal action is ongoing and therefore for legal reasons Evergreen Line cannot comment.”
  • “Regarding other vessels (the Ever Delight and the Ever Unique) we can assure you that Evergreen Line always emphasises the requirement that all aged vessels should be scrapped at a ‘Green Ship Recycling Ship Yard’ certified under the terms of the Hong Kong Convention.”
  • “With regard to specific vessels, we are bound by the terms of the Confidentiality Agreement within the MOA signed at the time of the sale.”
With pressure building on such as Evergreen it is to be hoped that finally the ship owners are waking up to the fact that their responsibilities do not end when a ship is disposed of to another company. The traditional beaches to dump vessels have low overheads with appalling conditions, low wages and virtually no health and safety standards, all of which combine to enable the cash buyers to bid the highest for any end of life vessel.

As Evergreen itself points out the 2009 Hong Kong Convention is comprised of sections covering the control and regulation of vessel’s entire service life from design, construction and operation to recycling. It is intended to enhance safety in the ship recycling industry, maintain environmental protection standards, reinforce regulation of ship design, construction, operation and demolition and, in particular, raise the environmental protection standards of ship recycling facilities.

Now it remains for the ship owners to live up to such standards.

Photo: Local vlogger Gujju Sanjay on the beach at Alang offers positive evidence of where Evergreen’s vessels have been ending their working lives.