Denmark developing regulations on ship scrapping

European country calls for ship lines to adhere to Hong Kong Convention for safe ship dismantling.

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September 15, 2016
RTGE Staff
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The Danish Minister for Environment and Food is preparing regulations to ensure Danish shippers use appropriate scrapping of vessels.

Denmark is taking the lead in passing regulations that will ensure the country follows the Hong Kong Convention, which is a global agreement to ensure that ships are scrapped and recycled appropriately.

To accomplish this, Esben Lunde Larsen, Denmark’s Minister for Environment and Food, is preparing new regulations to make sure that people and the environment are protected globally when ships are broken up and the metal is recycled.

According to Larsen, worldwide, about 1,000 merchant vessels are broken up every year with the metal being recycled. A problem has been that a majority of the scrapping takes place in countries such as India and Bangladesh, which typically are not as focused on the environment as European countries.

“Scrap ships must not pollute Third World beaches. Ships are often hazardous waste and they must be broken up under appropriate conditions so that they do not pose a danger to human health and safety or the environment,” says Larsen. “Seeing the shipyards in Asia at which many scrap ships are broken up has made a strong impression on me.

“Therefore, adapting Danish regulations so that we can accede to the Hong Kong Convention has been an important priority, and it will help set global standards to ensure ships are broken up safely. This will send a strong signal to other countries, and the more countries that accede to the Convention, the quicker we can get it to enter into force.”

According to the Danish Shipowners' Association, an average of ten Danish-operated ships are scrapped every year, the overwhelming majority processed in India, China and Turkey.

The Hong Kong Convention was adopted by the UN International Maritime Organisation back in 2009. Parts of the Convention have already been adopted by the EU in the Ship Recycling Regulation, and Danish accession will make it more likely that more countries around the world will also accede to the Convention.

“I’m extremely pleased that the Minister is now making sure that Denmark will soon be able to accede to the Convention. Up to 70% of the world’s scrap ships are broken up in Third World countries, so global regulations are vital to ensure that ships are broken up appropriately. Therefore, we must urge more countries to follow in Denmark’s footsteps so that the Convention can finally enter into force. Until this happens, we’re encouraging all our shipping companies to comply with the upcoming requirements voluntarily,” said Anne Steffensen, director general of the Danish Shipowners' Association.

“The Danish Metalworkers’ Union and the Central Organisation of Industrial Employees are very pleased that the Danish government is now acceding to the Hong Kong Convention. We’ve been working for a number of years for full ratification of the Hong Kong Convention so that our foreign colleagues in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, for example, can have reasonable working conditions when breaking up ships. The government’s proposal has taken us a good step forward,” says Claus Jensen, president of the Danish Metalworkers’ Union and the Central Organisation of Industrial Employees.

The new regulations have just been sent for consultation, and Denmark expects to be able to accede to the Convention in spring 2017.