Pressure groups call IMO draft 'green gloss'
by Keith Wallis, Lloyd’s List
12 May 2009 – Environmental, human rights and labour groups are canvassing several member states of the International Maritime Organization to win official backing to outlaw the beaching of ships in the IMO’s convention on ship recycling, writes Keith Wallis.
North Sea Foundation maritime co-ordinator Eelco Leemans told Lloyd’s List that while a handful of states offered their private support, not one was prepared to speak out publicly.
But he said that could change with the absence of India from the opening of the conference in Hong Kong yesterday.
A final version of the ship recycling convention is due to be signed on Friday.
The North Sea Foundation is an affiliate member of Friends of the Earth International, which has teamed up with Greenpeace International and plans to speak at the conference today in support of a ban on beaching.
Basel Action Network spokesman Jim Puckett said adopting the convention without banning the beaching of ships would be nothing more than “green gloss”.
“It’s not going to change anything on the ground,” he told Lloyd’s List.
Both he and Mr Leemans said the convention will do nothing to protect workers dismantling vessels on beaches in India and Bangladesh. They said the area’s soft sands cannot support cranes or other heavylift or emergency response equipment, while pollution would still seep directly into the coastal zone environment.
They were commenting after more than 100 organisations in over 30 countries signed a statement of concern, which said the draft IMO convention on ship recycling was “legal shipwreck”.
NGO Platform on Shipbreaking director Ingvild Jenssen said the draft convention would “not prevent a single toxic ship from being exported and dumped on the beaches of India, Bangladesh or Pakistan or any other developing country”.
He added: “We are sending out an SOS to the nations of the world to change their course and at the very least condemn the unsustainable and exploitive toxic beach breaking operations.”
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