IMO Environment Meeting finalizes ships recycling convention for adoption in 2009
The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) approved, without reservations, the text of the draft ship recycling convention for adoption at a conference in 2009, when it met for its 58th session at IMO's London headquarters.
The MEPC conducted an article-by-article and regulation-by-regulation review of the draft new convention providing globally applicable regulations for ship recycling and for recycling activities. The text will now be circulated for consideration and adoption by a diplomatic conference to be held in Hong Kong, China, from 11 to 15 May 2009.
The new convention will provide regulations for the design, construction, operation and preparation of ships so as to facilitate safe and environmentally sound recycling, without compromising the safety and operational efficiency of ships; the operation of ship recycling facilities in a safe and environmentally sound manner; and the establishment of an appropriate enforcement mechanism for ship recycling, incorporating certification and reporting requirements.
Ships to be sent for recycling will be required to carry an inventory of hazardous materials, specific to each ship, while an appendix to the convention will provide a list of hazardous materials whose installation or use in ships is prohibited or restricted in shipyards, ship repair yards, and ships of parties to the future convention. Ships will have to have an initial survey to verify the inventory of hazardous materials, surveys during the life of the ship, and a final survey prior to recycling.
Ship recycling yards will be required to provide a "Ship Recycling Plan", to specify the manner in which each ship will be recycled, depending on its particulars and its inventory. Parties will be required to take effective measures to ensure that ship recycling facilities under their jurisdiction comply with the convention.
A series of guidelines are being developed to assist in the implementation of the new convention while the entry into force criteria for the convention (number of States required and percentage of gross merchant shipping tonnage) will be decided by the 2009 conference when formally adopting the proposed convention.
Co-operation with ILO and Basel Convention
IMO has co-operated with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the relevant bodies of the Basel Convention (BC) on ship recycling in developing the new draft convention.
The Joint ILO/IMO/BC Working Group on Ship Scrapping will hold its third session in Geneva from 29 to 31 October.
IMO's role in the recycling of ships, the terminology used to refer to ship scrapping, was first raised at the 44th MEPC session in March 2000, following which a correspondence group was established to research this issue and provide a range of information about current ship recycling practices and suggestions on the role of IMO. Guidelines on ship recycling were developed by the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) and finalized at the MEPC 49th session in July 2003, before being adopted by the 23rd IMO Assembly in November-December 2003.
Ships sold for scrapping may contain environmentally hazardous substances such as asbestos, heavy metals, hydrocarbons, and ozone depleting substances and others. Concerns have been raised about the working and environmental conditions at many of the world's ship scrapping locations.
At its 53rd session in July 2005, the MEPC agreed that IMO should develop, as a high priority, a new instrument on recycling of ships with a view to providing legally binding and globally applicable ship recycling regulations for international shipping and for recycling facilities.
MEPC 53 also agreed that the new IMO instrument on ship recycling should include regulations for the design, construction, operation and preparation of ships so as to facilitate safe and environmentally sound recycling, without compromising the safety and operational efficiency of ships; the operation of ship recycling facilities in a safe and environmentally sound manner; and the establishment of an appropriate enforcement mechanism for ship recycling (certification/reporting requirements).
The IMO Assembly, in 2005, subsequently agreed that IMO should develop a new legally-binding instrument on the subject matter.