Green Ships:Ship breaking Regulations
- 1 Hong Kong Convention
- 2 AFS Convention
- 3 European Commission
- 4 Basel Convention
- 5 Miscellaneous Conventions
- 6 Green Ship Countries
- 7 References
Hong Kong Convention
The Hong Kong International Convention for Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships is the most recent legislation that oversees the creation of clearer, stricter guidelines for occupational and environmental safety in ship recycling. It attempts to improve on the much older Basel Convention, and it applies to ships entitled to fly the flag of a Party or to ships and ship-recycling facilities operating under Party jurisdiction. Adopted under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in May of 2009 after more than five years of negotiations, the Hong Kong Convention is expected to enter into force in 2015. The aim of the Convention is to provide regulations on the design, construction, preparation, and operation of ships in order to facilitate safe and environmentally sound recycling. The Convention requires all vessels to carry detailed, regularly updated inventories of their hazardous materials. Unfortunately for the environment, the original conditions of the Hong Kong convention were vague enough that many countries were able to sidestep the safety guidelines.
Although the Hong Kong Convention has come under scrutiny in some respects, it does successfully serve some functions. The Convention requires all vessels to carry detailed, regularly updated inventories of the ship’s hazardous materials. In order to ensure compliance with this policy and close potential loopholes, the ships must be surveyed throughout their lifetimes to verify the inventories of hazardous materials. Ships must undergo an initial survey, surveys throughout their useful lives, and a final survey prior to recycling.
The Hong Kong Convention tries to regulate all aspects of a ship's life (described by Bhattacharjee as ‘the cradle-to-grave-approach”). Many conventions were developed with a tertiary prevention approach to ship recycling, protecting the environment and its workers. Few conventions, however, have turned their efforts to primary and secondary prevention methods. Unlike the Basel Convention and other international treaties, the Hong Kong Convention addresses the crucial issue of ‘green ship building and design’. The Convention also takes special care to address the environmental and occupational dangers associated with the ship-recycling industry. Ship recycling yards must be authorized, and every ship recycled must have a ‘Ship Recycling Plan.’ ???Other conventions allow leniency to visiting ships operating through other parties, enabling them to slip through the cracks through other countries not operating or operating under less restricted policies.
Although the Hong Kong Convention is an update to the Basel Convention, the Hong Kong Convention has several key faults. First, it lacks instruction on the methods that should guide ship recycling and on the ‘final management of waste.’ The convention does not force shipbreaking countries or ship owners to improve present conditions, and it fails to demand the decontamination of ships within developed countries prior to their exportation. Arguably, even the mention of ship recycling in the convention is a substantial improvement on the Basel Convention. Nevertheless, ‘the 2009 Hong Kong Convention itself does not introduce a compulsory and environmentally sound ship recycling method.’ In fact, the Convention does not entirely ban the practice of dismantling ships on beaches.
Another drawback of the Hong Kong Convention is that it does not account for all vessels. Among the excluded ships are ‘warships, naval auxiliary ships or other ships owned or operated by a Party and used only on governmental, non-commercial service.’
The Hong Kong Convention’s focus on primary prevention is extraordinarily beneficial in many ways, but the vast majority of ships currently in use should also be addressed as their average lifetime of 20 years is a lengthy amount of time to go ignored and harm workers and the environment.??? Another potential flaw of the Hong Kong Convention is that much of the responsibility for managing ship toxins lies with recyclers – often the recyclers in poor countries who do not have the tools and capital to renovate and modernize their ship-breaking operations.
The principal challenge of the Hong Kong Convention is enforcing it. Bangladesh and other developing countries do not recognize ship breaking as a legitimate industry. (Alam) Thus, ratifying the Hong Kong convention proves problematic. The Convention requires ‘the signatures of the five main ship recycling States: Bangladesh, China, India, Pakistan and Turkey. Is this old information?
In 2001, the IMO (International Maritime Organization) met and create the AFS (Anti-Fouling Systems) Convention in response to the harmful effects contributed by the use of anti-fouling systems. According to the AFS Convention, it entered the force and became binding on the parties one year after 25 states, representing 25% of the world’s merchant shipping tonnage, have ratified it. (Gipperth). The Convention was adopted in 2001 and obtained its final signature in September 2007 by Panama and became the 25th state (out of 166 IMO member countries) to ratify the convention. One of the major benefits of the AFS Convention is its adequate percentage of the world's shipping inclusions. These 25 countries represent 38.09% of worlds merchant shipping tonnage, convention entered force September 2008. (Gipperth)
The IMO adopted the AFS Convention to address the harmful effects caused by anti-fouling systems, primarily toxic based paints such as TBT. The AFS Convention prohibited all use of TBT based antifouling paints in 2008. (Stichnothe)
The prohibited use of TBT based paints forced ship owners and ship workers to recognize the dangers associated with TBT based paints. Due to entering into force of AFS convention on September 2008, huge amount of TBT containing wastes is expected to be produced, near shipyards, in following months. (Stichnothe). The immediate fear of handling or being near ships coated in TBT based paints likely caused ship works and ship owners to use unsafe methods such as scraping to remove the TBT from the ships, in turn, harming the surrounding marine life and the workers as they might inhale the paint particles.
The European Commission as a whole is designed to govern and implement legislation upholding the European Union (EU) treaties. The EU Ship Recycling Regulation is a more recent policy established in 2013 implemented under the requirements of the Hong Kong Convention. The main aim of the regulation is that European ships have to be dismantled in safe and environmentally sound facilities. (Alam). The EU has accepted responsibility, primarily that the Hong Kong Convention has forced countries to accept, for their flagged ships and reducing the negative impacts associated with ship-recycling without creating irrelevant economic burdens. According to the Regulation, all waste, including end-of-life ships and vessels, destined for disposal is subject to the requirement of prior notification. (Alam).
In March 2012, the European Commission (EC) adopted a proposal for new regulation on ship recycling, which has been approved by the European Parliament in April 2013. (Alam). The EC's newly implemented regulation operates under the governing Hong Kong Convention the regulation also invokes facets of the Basel Convention. The proposal aims to implement the Basel Convention and an Amendment to the Convention (the ‘Ban Amendment’), which has not yet entered into force. (Alam). The European Union continues to accept responsibility for their vessels and reduce exporting toxic wastes and owning economic accountability associated with ship recycling by employing ship recycling facilities that have proven and met the ship recycling criteria. European ships are only allowed to be recycled in facilities that are registered in a European list of recycling facilities (apply for inclusion with evidence that they meet stipulated requirements) (Alam)
The Basal Convention was one of the initial regulations established to prohibit the transportation of toxic waste for disposal and to protect human health and the environment from hazardous toxins. The Basel Convention remains the principal international legal instrument of regulation on the shipbreaking industry. (Alam). Many people encourage the proper disposal of toxic waste, however, they seem to be more concerned that the adverse waste is not disposed of in their area, they'd prefer to outsource the waste. The main purpose of the Basel Convention is to ensure that parties take responsibility for their own hazardous waste, establish hazardous waste disposal facilities (including recycling) within their territory, minimise the generation and transboundary movement of hazardous waste, and ensure that they do not export the hazards and damage to human health and the environment, to other countries. (Alam). Regulations that encourage hazardous waste accountability and determine suitability for recycling allow more protection for the environment and human health. The European Waste Shipment Regulation 259/93/EEC determines which procedures to apply before waste can be shipped within, into and out of the European Community, the Regulation is largely based on the Basel Convention. (Alam). Though there are strict guidelines set forth to discourage the transportation of toxic waste for good reason, many ship owners choose to disregard the reasoning. In most cases, ships exported for shipbreaking are a clear violation of these objectives. (Alam). Unfortunately, many countries, especially developed countries, elect to have control or a announce a suggestions to these Conventions, ironically do not authenticate the Conventions but forcing the committed countries to abide by the regulations. The United States dominated many of original Basel Convention negotiations, failed to ratify agreement, joining Haiti and Afghanistan as only signatories to the agreement that have failed to ratify treaty. (Alam).
Many countries elude abiding by the endorsed regulations by operating under various port and flag states as convenient. Firstly, it obligates the Parties, irrespective of their status (e.g., State of Export, Import, Transit, flag or port State), to prohibit or not permit the export of hazardous and other wastes to parties, which have prohibited the import of such wastes. (Alam). It is difficult for every or any Convention to envision every possible evasion of the regulations, the Basel Convention has set the groundwork for subsequent Regulations and comprehend areas for improvement. The Basel Convention is environmentally sound management, which means taking all practicable steps to ensure protection of human health and the environment. (Alam). Being able to hold countries responsible for their avoidance and infringement of the laws is one step, although enforcing the illegal act is seal of solution for holding countries accountable. The Basel Convention defines “illegal traffic” of hazardous wastes and makes it a criminal act. (Alam). The prohibited transportation of hazardous waste is clear and indisputable, but the definition of what constitutes as hazardous is unclear leaving room for open interpretation in different locations. The Basel Convention's 7th Conference of Parties has recognised that end-oflife vessels containing PCBs, asbestos, heavy metals and other hazardous substances should be legally defined as hazardous wastes in international law. (Alam). The clarification of what hazardous waste is defined as further instills liability. Therefore, ships containing such hazardous constituents and destined for ship breaking should be defined as hazardous wastes, this is a significant area of reform for the Basel Convention which requires clarification. (Alam). The majority of the obligation of implementing a practical operation is largely undertaken by the importing state. The failure to prescribe a process by which to ascertain the information has meant that assessment is reliant on representations made by authorities in the importing state, this is problematic where lack of capacity and endemic corruption are regularly encountered. (Alam). There has been a newly suggested addition to the Basel Convention that focuses on two separate collection of nations. The Basel Ban Amendment prohibits all hazardous wastes from being transported from OECD nations to non-OECD nations. (Alam). The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (34 countries founded in 1961) establishes a total ban on exports of hazardous wastes from OECD and EC countries to developing countries. This fulfills the purpose of the convention, namely, “to prevent the developed nations from ‘dumping’ on the developing nations. (Alam)
As there are many definitive guidelines described in the Basel Convention, there are also some obscure policies established in the Convention. The ambiguities in the Convention. Articles. 4.1 and 6 of the Basel Convention stipulates that no shipment of waste should take place without all “States Concerned” being informed and consented. (Alam). It is well known that this requirement can be circumvented by unscrupulous waste ship traders by declaring a ship to be waste only after it is in international waters or already at the shipbreaking state. (Alam). The “prior informed consent” (PIC) mechanism requires that the state of export informs an importing state of any transfer, detailing accurately the nature and volume of the waste, and receives written consent from the state of import. (Alam). Violations have shown, however, that exporting parties frequently misrepresent the nature of the waste involved. (Alam). Abidjan disaster the waste concerned was described as ‘routine slops’, the dirty water from washing naval tanks, but was revealed to actually be a mixture of fuels, caustic soda and over two tonnes of hydrogen sulphide. (Alam). This lack of technical capacity has meant that importing states are often unable to ascertain whether the information provided is indeed correct. (Alam). The difficulties are further exacerbated by the fact that the Convention offers no explanation of ‘environmentally sound management’ beyond, ‘taking all practicable steps to ensure that hazardous wastes or other wastes are managed in a manner which will protect human health and the environment against the adverse effects which may result from such wastes’. 53 Exactly what is required then is subject to interpretation and conjecture. (Alam). This limitation has resulted in what is termed the ‘recycling loophole’. 59 It is argued that most waste transfers claimed to be for reuse or reclamation are either ‘sham recycling’, where future use is fabricated to disguise the fact that the waste is actually bound for dumping or ‘dirty recycling’, where the recycling process itself is harmful to the environment and human health. (Alam). Amendment struggles to take significant effect, as participation in ratifying the amendment is low and it has not entered into force yet. (Alam). no direct legal ban on the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes from developed to developing countries. (Alam). Basel Convention- Minimize amount and hazard level of wastes generated worldwide, where generation of hazardous waste is unavoidable such wastes should be disposed of as close to source of generation as possible, stresses environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous wastes (last point is vague in the treaty, not enforceable or accountable). (Dodds). Basel Convention-failed to create fund to minimize damage from international hazardous wastes, did not prohibit transfer of hazardous waste but rather facilitated movement to countries with developing economies. (Dodds). Basel Convention totally exempts bilateral and multilateral agreements with nonparty countries(nonmember countries, US, and member countries, India, to enter into contracts for disposal of waste). (Dodds). 1989 Basel Convention not entirely adequate to challenge all risks and problems arising from ship recycling facilities. (Chang). Basel convention does not indicate detailed rules for the recycling process, because of this the IMO took ship recycling and its environmental impact onto its agenda. (Chang)
The Law of the Sea Convention 1982 contains obligations of the states concerning land-based environmental pollution of the sea; most important the obligations contained in Articles 192 and 194. According to Article 192, ‘states have the obligation to protect and preserve the marine environment’. Furthermore, states shall according to Article 194 ‘take […] measures […] to prevent, reduce and control pollution of the marine environment’. Bangladesh ratified this Convention in 2001 The Stockholm Convention can be relevant when considering Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP) such as PCBs; a pervasive substance in many ships International Convention on the Control of Harmful Antifouling Systems on Ships 2001. It prohibits the use of anti-fouling systems that burdens the environment. Anti-fouling systems that use organotin compounds have to have an additional layer as a barrier to prevent the harmful substances from being released to the environment. substandard beaching yards the anti-fouling paint usually does not get removed professionally, but simply gets scaped off and released to the environment. damaging not only to the workers, but also to the coastal ecosystem. The requirement of over-coating worsens the problem because it makes it more difficult to remove the harmful bottom layer of paint. IMO dedicated legislator of global shipping industry since maritime catastrophes in 1960’s. (Chang) In addition, joint efforts with the IMO, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Conference of Parties to the 1989 Basel Convention were also made to establish a Joint Working Group on Ship Scrapping. (Chang) Since decision making process within IMO (International Maritime Organization) is base on principle of state sovereignty, state members are free to enter any IMO Convention. (Gipperth)
Green Ship Countries
- Chang, Y., N. Wang & O.S. Durak. (2010). Ship recycling and marine pollution. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 60, 1390-1396.
- Alam, S., & A. Faruque. (2014). Legal regulation of the shipbreaking industry in Bangladesh: The international regulatory framework and domestic implementation challenges. Marine Policy, 47, 46-56.