A new law provisionally agreed between EP negotiators and EU member states to clean up the scrapping of old EU ships and ensure the materials are recycled in EU-approved facilities worldwide was backed by Environment Committee MEPs on Wednesday. It aims to ensure that these ships are not scrapped on the beaches of third countries, so as to protect workers' health and the environment.
In future, EU ships will have to be dismantled in ship recycling facilities that are included in an EU list of those that meet specific requirements and are certified and regularly inspected.
"This new legislation finally puts an end to European ships being recklessly scrapped in developing countries. Currently, most EU ships are sent to South-East Asia at the end of their lives, where they are scrapped on a beach in conditions that are unacceptable for human health and cause gross pollution of the environment" said Carl Schlyter (Greens/EFA, SV), who steered the legislation through Parliament. The agreement he negotiated with Council was approved with 58 votes in favour, 5 against and 1 abstention.
"I want to stress that this is not an attack against India, Bangladesh or Pakistan - the countries that currently practice beaching - but against the dangerous and highly-polluting practice of beaching. This regulation incentivizes these countries to make the necessary investments in proper ship recycling facilities - above all for the sake of safe and environmentally-sound jobs in their countries", he added.
In negotiations on the draft, Parliament strengthened the requirements for ship recycling facilities to clearly preclude the practice of beaching. Ship recycling facilities must inter alia operate from built structures, be designed, constructed and operated in a safe and environmentally sound manner, contain hazardous materials throughout the recycling process and handle them and their waste only on impermeable floors with effective drainage. Waste quantities must be documented, and waste processed in authorised waste treatment or recycling facilities.
Inventory of hazardous materials and financial instrument
In addition to EU ships, non-EU ships are included in the scope of the regulation insofar as they must also carry an inventory of hazardous materials when calling at ports in the EU.
The European Commission will have to report on the feasibility of a financial instrument applicable to all ships calling at EU ports that would facilitate safe and sound ship recycling and, if appropriate, to present a legislative proposal within 3 years of the entry into force of the law.
Penalties, request for action and access to justice
Penalties for non-compliance with the new regulation are to be set by member states. NGOs are entitled to ask the Commission to take action against breaches of requirements for ship recycling facilities which are located outside the EU and have been included in the European list. Member states' courts are required to interpret, to the fullest extent possible, the procedural rules relating to access to justice in accordance with the Aarhus Convention.
Parliament will conclude its first reading in a plenary session this autumn.
The regulation which is likely to enter into force at the start of 2014, will apply to ships at the earliest 2 years and at the latest 5 years after its entry into force, the eventual date depending on when the recycling capacity in ship-recycling facilities on the EU list exceeds a threshold of 2.5 million light displacement tonnes.
The provisions on ship recycling facilities will apply from 1 year after the regulation's entry into force (20 days after publication in the EU Official Journal).