EU environment committee backs revised ship-recycling law

The European Parliament’s environment committee (Envi) has backed the new law provisionally agreed to improve the environmental and working standards applied when scrapping EU-owned ships.

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Under a planned EU regulation, agreed between European Parliament negotiators and European Union (EU) member states, such ships would have to be dismantled in ship recycling facilities regularly inspected by the EU and certified as meeting specific requirements.

This vote was important because a European Parliament plenary session in April rejected an amendment from the committee suggesting that a recycling fund be established to help finance such improvements, based on a levy charged on any ship using an EU port.

Acceptance of draft legislation should pave the way for a formal European Parliament vote on the final detailed text by October.

The regulation would then come into force at the start of 2014, with its rules being implemented steadily between 2015 and 2019.

“This new legislation finally puts an end to European ships being recklessly scrapped in developing countries,” according to Carl Schlyter, the Swedish Green Party MEP who has piloted the legislation through the parliament.

The legislation will end ship-scrapping “on a beach in conditions that are unacceptable for human health and cause gross pollution of the environment”, Schlyter said.

He argued that the law was “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 incentivises these countries to make the necessary investments in proper ship-recycling facilities.”

Under the new law, ship-recycling facilities scrapping EU vessels would have to operate from built structures, designed, constructed and operated in a safe and environmentally sound manner.

These would have to sequester hazardous materials throughout the recycling process, handling them and associated waste on impermeable floors with effective drainage.

Waste quantities would be documented, and waste processed in authorised treatment or recycling facilities.