20/05/2013 Hazardous Waste Management in Ship Recycling

In the framework of its training program and regional strategy in enhancing hazardous substances management, PERSGA has organized a training workshop on Hazardous Waste Management in Ship Recycling. The workshop took place  at the Center for Emergency Mutual Aid in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden “EMARSGA”, Hurghada Egypt, during the period May 20th -21st 2013. 

Ship breaking and recycling industry (SBRI) converts end-of-life ships into steel and other recyclable items. Ship recycling offers the most environmentally sustainable way of disposing of old vessels, with virtually every part of the hull and machine complex being reused or recycled as scrap metal. Although the industry is beneficial from a life-cycle assessment point of view, over the years it has gravitated toward countries with low labor costs, weak regulations on occupational safety, and limited environmental enforcement. The “global shift” in the industry to countries with comparatively weaker regulatory systems is of particular concern as ships contain many hazards that can have significant detrimental effects on humans and the environment if not dealt with properly. Environmental protection is limited in most yards and sound management of asbestos, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), ozone-depleting substances (ODS), and a range of heavy metals is virtually nonexistent. Lately some efforts at minimizing the release of such pollutants in the environment are emerging in some countries. Recognizing the need for coordinated action on the issue, the International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships was adopted by a diplomatic conference under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization in Hong Kong, China, in May 2009. The Hong Kong Convention (HKC) enters into force in once ratified by 15 countries with specified capacities of tonnage and recycling facilities..

The supply of vessels for scrapping from the shipping sector is subject to large variations as a consequence of the global demand for seaborne transport. Between 2004 and 2008 shipping saw unsurpassed freight rates as a result of high demand for maritime transportation. That high demand kept even older ships in operation during that period. This resulted in a record low number of vessels being offered for scrapping. On average, some 700–800 ships larger than 499 gross tonnage are scrapped annually, but during the shipping industry’s global boom years the figure was only 300–400 vessels. Following the recent economic recession, however, the demand for maritime transportation has declined. As a result, the number of vessels scrapped in 2009 was estimated to have reached 1,200 equal to a capacity of more that 25 million gross tonnage. The future demand for scrapping is not expected to fall to previous lows even if the global economy picks up. This is due to the generation of a massive order book in the shipbuilding yards during the boom years, which will be completed by 2013. Thus tonnage will be in excess of demand for at least 5-10 years to come. Already today, more ships are laid-up than for the past 20 years and unless global market conditions change dramatically, a significant part of this fleet will undoubtedly go directly for scrapping. Hazardous material in ship scraps if ships are exported or imported for scrapping would be subject of Basel Convention 

To this effect the workshop has been organized in collaboration with UNIDO to enhance awareness in PERSGA region on risks as well as advantages of ship scrapping. The main objectives of the workshop are to :

• Enhance awareness of ship recycling activities focusing on environmental and health aspects associated with handling hazardous material

• Identify from national representatives current status l needs of ship scrapping / recycling at PERSGA countries 

• Discuss International Conventions relevant to ship recycling namely Hong Kong Convention,  Basel Convention, Rotterdam Conventions and Stockholm Convention as well as Conventions the World Labour Organization. 

• Discuss and agree on recommendations for appropriate training needs and capacity building for protection of the marine and coastal environment in PERSGA region from organised or unorganized ship recycling / ship scrapping activities 

Participants totaled about 20 specialists of government officers responsible for environmental safety and occupational health at ports, shipyards and maritime customs as well as officers of private enterprise involved in handling waste in general and hazardous waste in particular. The was presented in a mix of English and Arabic languages and was facilitated by Dr. Nikos Mikelis an international expert on Hong Kong Convention, Eng. Adel al Shafe’e a regional expert on Basel Convention and Dr. Mohammad Badran PERSGA Projects Director - Coordinator of Marine Pollution Reduction Program. The workshop constitutes a significant step towards identifying PERSGA objectives in joining the GEF funded international project on Environmentally Sound Management of Ship Recycling. 

The Regional Organization for the Conservation of the Environment in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden