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Ship Recycling

ship recyclingImage: shutterstock


According to the EC, worldwide, around 1000 large end-of-life ships are dismantled every year to recycle the steel and equipment. Most of this ship recycling takes place in South Asia, often on tidal beaches and under dangerous conditions which lead to health risks and extensive pollution of coastal areas. In fact, old ships contain many hazardous materials including asbestos, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), tributyl tin and large quantities of oils and oil sludge.

Global action

The Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmental Sound Recycling of Ships (HKC) was adopted on 15 May 2009 by an IMO Diplomatic Conference. This Convention covers the design, construction, operation and preparation of ships so as to facilitate a sustainable ship recycling without compromising the safety and operational efficiency of ships. It also regulates the establishment of an appropriate enforcement mechanism for ship recycling, incorporating certification and reporting requirements. From 2011, the IMO developed several Guidelines to assist the States Parties in the early implementation of the Convention’s technical standards.

EU action

The EU Ship Recycling Regulation (1257/2013) entered into force on 30 December 2013 to reduce the negative impacts linked to the recycling of EU-flagged ships, especially in South Asia. The Regulation is built upon the Hong Kong Convention and aims to implement the Convention quickly, without waiting for its ratification and entry into force. To speed up the formal entry into force of the Hong Kong Convention, the Commission proposal for a Ship Recycling Regulation was accompanied by a draft decision requiring Member States to ratify the Hong Kong Convention.

The Ship Recycling Regulation applies to large commercial seagoing vessels flying the flag of the EU Member State, and to ships flying the flag of a third country calling at EU ports or anchorages. In order to ensure legal clarity and avoid administrative burdens, ships flying the flag of a Member State covered by the new legislation would be excluded from the scope of the Waste Shipment Regulation (EC) 1013/2006.

According to the new rules, the installation or use of certain hazardous materials on ships such as asbestos, ozone-depleting substances, PCBs, PFOS, and anti-fouling compounds, will be prohibited or restricted. Each new ship flying the flag of an EU Member State (or a ship flying a flag of the third country calling at EU port or anchorage) will be required to have on board an inventory of hazardous materials.

EMSA's role

The Agency has been involved in the process since March 2006, providing technical assistance on this issue. EMSA has participated in international meetings, inter alia in IMO meetings (MEPC, ship recycling Working Groups, Hong Kong Diplomatic Conference), Basel Convention meetings, international conferences on ship recycling, etc. and coordinates the EC's submissions to the IMO Correspondence Group.

The Agency commissioned a study (finalised in September 2008), which provided a model of an integrated management system (IMS) for the certification of ship recycling facilities addressing safety, health and environmental issues.

EMSA also organised workshops in its premises in Lisbon, in order to:

· stimulate an exchange of views among experts on current development with regard to ship dismantling and as such to improve the level of information on current practices and solutions at EU level;

· provide a platform for discussion in view of the relevant international meetings related to the Convention on the safe and environmentally sound recycling of ships.

Finally the Agency within the context of Capacity Building through guidelines, recommendations and best practices has developed and published “Best Practice Guidance document on the Inventory of Hazardous Materials” to address the need for a qualitative and reliable IHM providing best practices both for the industry and for the maritime administrations when applying the respective provisions of the SRR.


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