Few ship breaking yards at Alang are heading for class certification in compliance with the Hong Kong International Convention
The ship recycling facility to Jiangmen Zhongxin Shipbreaking & Steel Co., Ltd in China may be the only yard at present to have the Statement of Compliance (SOC) in the world. But in all probability few yards based at Alang on the West coast of India where ship breaking is by the beaching method, are vying for SOC and are likely to follow suit soon. ClassNK which had issued the world’s first SOC to the Chinese ship breaking yard is carrying out a gap analysis of these Indian ship recycling yards presently.
Prior to the adoption of the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009 there was some opposition to the beaching method which prevails in Alang, the world biggest ship breaking facility. Considered much economical and faster method of recycling ships besides its many advantages, some European countries had opposed it initially because it caused some degree of pollution and in some cases hazardous material gets left behind while beaching and which gets washed into the sea.
A.V. Pradhan, Regional Manager of ClassNK points out that the beaching method followed at Alang cannot necessarily be said as ‘not an approval method’. Also it cannot be said to be bad process of ship recycling as long as they are able to take care of the pollution. He informed that ClassNK has its inspectors at the site undertaking gap analysis. He felt that certain procedures are required to be put in place before a SOC can be issued.
Tributyltin or TBT is a biocide which came into being in the 1970s’ because of its brilliant anti fouling properties over ship’s hull as it prevents the growth of algae, barnacles and other marine organisms that cause the vessels’ weight to increase and cause a drag while moving in water. But because of its harmful effect TBT was phased out of use from 1st Jan 2008. But in order to implement the ban the TBT is either removed during dry docking by ballasting which is costly or by putting a sealer coat on top of this TBT approved anti fouling paint used. But in the beaching method the TBT from the underside of the ship comes off on to the sand and often remains there until the ship demolition is completed and TBT absorbed / washed back into sea when the tide comes in.
“One of the main reasons for the opposition to the beaching method is the pollution caused by the TBT which comes off and remains on the beach,” says Mr. Pradhan. “If all such pollutions are prevented, the banned material properly disposed off without spilling on to the beaches and all the requirements of the Hong Kong convention are complied with then the beaching method could be made acceptable for ship breaking.”
It is all a question of having to put a system in place which involves not only creating awareness about the need for having a technique to identify various hazardous material, use of the right procedure in handling and segregating the material and undertaking storage if required and its proper disposal all the ship breaking activities must be documented and carried out safely.
“But most importantly there is a need to have a change of attitude,” says Mr. Pradhan. “The ship breakers are not aware of the pollution that is happening during ship breaking because of the traditional approach which was subjected to indifferent style of functioning. It is necessary to dissuade workers from randomly throwing out hazardous and useless material and instead have it properly dispose off. According to the procedure to be put in place workers will have to remove all material that remains on the beach. They will have to train people in being able to identify hazardous material and implement the system. “
To carry out the certification process studies are being conducted on method followed for grant of SOC to Jiangmen Zhongxin Shipbreaking & Steel Co., as well as another in Turkey.
Jiangmen Zhongxin Shipbreaking & Steel Co. is the largest ship recycler in China with a yard of over 400,000 sq meters in area has a capacity of only 500,000 light dead weight tons (LDT). However, the yard has been a pioneer in green ship recycling and has earned recognition as a “AAAA” level green ship breaking enterprise from the China National Ship Recycling Association. After a thorough review of the ship recycling facility plan (SRFP) developed by the yard with the assistance of Wilhelmsen Ship Management, ClassNK working as a third party certification body confirmed that the recycling practices of the yard were in compliance with the Hong Kong Convention, and issued the world’s first SOC. The ship recycling yard at Turkey is said to comply with the requirements of the European convention.