Ship breaking

The European Parliament has tightened the ship scrapping rule under which EU-registered ships must be sent to EU-approved facilities to be scrapped.

The proposed regulation intends to minimise the adverse effects of careless scrapping of vessels outside Europe, most often in South-East Asia, in unsafe and unsanitary conditions.

Shipowners would face penalties if they send or sell vessels for recycling on a beach or in a scrapping facility not approved by the EU, including vessels sent for scrapping within 12 months of a sale.

But the European Parliament rejected a plan proposed by the Environment Committee to create a recycling fund raised through a recycling levy to be imposed on any ship using an EU port.

The Environment Committee plan was drafted by Swedish MEP Carl Schlyter, and is based on the "polluter pays" principle to ensure that old ships are recycled in the proper facilities.

The Environment Committee’s proposal was defeated by 299 votes to 292, with 21 abstentions.

Members of European Parliament have, however, endorsed an amendment for tabling a legislative proposal by 2015 "for an incentive-based system that would facilitate safe and sound ship recycling".

Schlyter said: "While the EP has voted to put an end to European ships being recklessly scrapped in developing countries in hazardous conditions, this is jeopardised by the failure to adopt a financial mechanism to support it."

Under the new proposal, each member state would have to ensure that every EU-registered ship has a list of hazardous materials onboard the ship, while non-EU ships that enter EU ports must also have a hazardous materials inventory.

Image: Shipowners in the EU would face penalties for scrapping vessels on beaches in developing countries instead of in EU-approved facilities. Photo: Naquib Hossain.