Toxic Trade News / 8 May 2009
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IMO set to adopt ship recycling convention
by ENDS Europe
8 May 2009 – Governments are set to adopt a global convention on ship recycling at a meeting held by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) next week. The convention is intended to make ship scrapping safe and environmentally sound, but NGOs say the current text is very weak.

IMO governments and shipping stakeholders will discuss forty proposals made by various delegations to amend a draft convention drawn up over the past three years.

Mandatory third party controls on ship recycling facilities opposed by China and India are not in the draft text. But ships will need to keep an inventory of hazardous materials and the convention will ban some materials outright. Ship recycling facilities will have to provide a "ship recycling plan" but enforcement is left to individual countries.

Green groups want the draft text to be amended so that "beaching", whereby a ship is run aground on tidal flats and dismantled then and there, is explicitly banned. Without this, the new treaty "will have failed in its primary objective" and will establish less stringent standards than those set by the International Labour Organisation and Basel Convention on trade in hazardous waste, according to an NGO submission.

The NGO Platform on Shipbreaking wants the convention to establish a mandatory international ship recycling fund – paid into by ship owners under the polluter pays principle – that would help phase out beaching and improve the standard of ship recycling facilities around the world. The EU has made similar proposals.

*Meanwhile, experts on maritime incidents involving hazardous and noxious substances will meet in Marseilles, France, from Tuesday to Thursday to exchange information on scientific, legal and technical experiences in planning for and responding to toxic spills at sea. The meeting will take place on the fringes of a broader Interspill conference.

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