Ship Recyclers complying with Convention ahead of ratification
Incredible as it may sound but ahead of the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009 getting ratified, ship breakers in India are on a proactive mode seeking certification under the proposed regulations. At least two major players in this field are in the process of certification of their yard in Alang. But taking a closer look the advantage far out-weigh the drawbacks that were imagined all along by ship breakers of Alang where 40 per cent of the worlds ship breaking activity takes place involving a huge workforce.Putting things in the right prospective, the Indian ship recyclers’ interest in getting certification can’t be said to be a ground breaking event as such. In fact, ClassNK has already issued the world’s first Statement of Compliance (SOC) for a ship recycling facility to Jiangmen Zhongxin Shipbreaking & Steel Co., Ltd in China two month’s back and more are likely there. This SOC certifies that the Chinese facility and its recycling procedures are fully in compliance with the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships and it is the first time that a ship recycler’s yard has achieved this recognition.
The two Indian ship recyclers’ are trying to get their ship breaking yard certified by ClassNK. A gap analysis will be done thus indicating which of the rules are complied with and which still need compliance. Will it be easy to fulfil all the regulations considering the malicious attack on the beaching method as practiced by Alang ship recyclers?
In the case of Jiangmen Zhongxin Shipbreaking & Steel Co., 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.
Green ship recycling has become an important issue in the maritime industry, especially following the adoption of the Hong Kong Convention. This has gained momentum especially after the growing concerns about corporate social responsibility and the new local and international regulations helping drive the demand for high quality ship recycling facilities which can recycle vessels in an environmentally sound, friendly and safe manner.
A.V. Pradhan, General Manager of ClassNK points out that the beaching method followed at Alang cannot necessarily be said as not approved 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 scheduled the inspection of the two ship recyclers’ yards next month and only after all the regulations have been complied with can they be eligible for SOC.
“We find the ship breakers are very keen on getting the SOC,” stated Mr. Pradhan. “One reason for the interest being shown could be that a large number of Japanese vessels come to India for recycling. But now the Japanese government is putting restrictions on the Japanese ship owners to have their ships scrapped only at approved ship breaking yards. According to me if these two recyclers who have approached us for securing the SOC find that it is easier to comply with the requirement than what they thought all along then it is possible that most of the others could follow suit and obtain certification. As it is the various players at Alang are very focused and have managed to bring down accidents rate to almost nil in the year preceding last year. However, last year as a result of failure to follow precautionary measures by some workers that some deaths reportedly took place.”
If ship recyclers are able to succeed in making Alang green there is no doubt that they will continue to hold the initiative of being the foremost ship recyclers in the world.