|Proposal and development of alternatives:||The NGO Shipbreaking Platform and its members call on the governments in ship-owning countries (in particular: the EU and its Member States, Japan, China, Singapore, and the US) to prohibit the export of end-of-life vessels to South Asian shipbreaking countries as long as:|
- end-of-life vessels contain significant amounts of hazardous waste;
- the shipbreaking countries cannot prove that all hazardous waste is removed, stored, treated, disposed or destructed in an environmantally sound manner;
- working and living conditions of shipbreaking workers remain inadequate;
- shipbreaking does not take place in modern ship recycling facilities off the beach with minimum technical and infrastructural requirements allowing for the containment of pollutions and workers’ health and safety.
The NGO Shipbreaking Platform and its members call on ship owner to only sell their end-of-life vessels to modern ship recycling facilities off the beach. By 2016, it is expected that the European Commission will publish a list of clean and safe ship recycling yards globally. The Platform will be recommending the use of these yards to ship owners.
The NGO Shipbreaking Platform and its member organisations in Bangladesh recommend the following actions to the Government of Bangladesh, the shipbreaking industry as well as the relevant international organisations:
- The Government needs to close down all shipbreaking yards which do not operate in accordance with the Supreme Court rulings, operate without Environmental Clearances based on the assessment of their performance, or operate illegally on forest land, where mangrove trees have been cut illegally.
- The Government must ensure that yard owners are held responsible for severe injures and deaths resulting from a lack of adequate infrastructe, equipment, oversight or training. So far, no yard owner has been held responsible for their negligence and breach of the law.
- The Government needs to ensure that no child or adolescent workers under the age of 18 work in the shipbreaking yards. Yards in which workers under 18 are found, need to be sanctioned and eventually closed down if illegal child labour is not stopped. The shipbreaking sector must be taken into account in the Government’s strategy to eradicate worst forms of child labour.
- The Government together with the relevant local authorities should develop and implement a «Green Ship Recycling Strategy», that is, a cross-departmental policy to allow for the much needed shift towards clean and safe ship recycling off the beach and compliant with international and domestic law, based on guidance offered by the Basel Convention, the ILO and the IMO.
- The Government should seek advice from the international institutions, in particular the Basel Convention Secretariat, the ILO and the IMO, and build partnerships to finance the needed investments in infrastructure to develop modern ship recycling facilities off the beach.
- The «Green Ship Recycling Strategy» should provide a roadmap for investments in the technical infrastructure of the shipbreaking yards to allow for the transition towards safer and environmentally sound methods off the beach (e.g. impermeable floors and drainage system, heavy lifting equipment, electricity and water supply).
- The Government of Bangladesh should cooperate with the other shipbreaking countries in South Asia – India and Pakistan – in a joint effort to exchange experience and alter shipbreaking practices so that competitiveness is not based on the lowest standards, but that instead a ‘level playing field’ is negotiated between shipbreaking countries.
- Taking into account already existing legal provisions, the Supreme Court rulings and obligations under international law, the Government needs to develop sector-specific shipbreaking rules. The new regulation needs to accommodate the overlaps in responsibilities between different government agencies at the national and local level and needs to clearly define the competent authorities’ roles.
- The new regulation should be based on a comprehensive review of existing legislation and a gap analysis, and should allow for the implementation of international obligations under the Basel Convention (in particular Prior Informed Consent and Environmentally Sound Management of hazardous wastes) as well as the standards set out in the new EU Ship Recycling Regulation.
- The new regulation needs to set out the authorisation criteria for facilities, to establish a set of rules for facility operation, including the procedures to obtain permits for different kinds of hazardous work, clearly define which authority needs to issue certificates and approvals, and set up an effective facility inspection regime to ensure that shipbreaking only occurs in accordance with the regulation’s requirements.
- With regards to hazardous waste management, the “Green Ship Recycling Strategy” needs to include a plan to establish: a reception facility for operationally and non-operationally generated waste at a port close to the yards with a mandatory port call for all imported end-of-life vessels to perform cleaning activities such as cleaning cargo tanks, emptying bilge tanks, paint and chemical stores, and unloading waste oil and surplus fuel, waste storage on the yards, waste reception facilities such as a sanitary landfill, disposal treatment facility for hazardous waste such as PCBs, a system to track hazardous waste and to avoid the repartition into the market, establishment of a testing laboratory with portable equipment, regular monitoring of the presence of contaminants in soil, water, sediments and air.
- There is an immediate need for training, awareness-raising and capacity building for workers to ensure safe operations. The government should provide a training center and seek the assistance of the Basel Convention Secretariat and ILO for further guidance on materials and the organisation of the training. Adequate training must be a pre-requirement for work in the shipbreaking yards. Workers needs to be handed out certificates and training efforts needs to be documented.
- With regards to workers’ rights, health and safety and living conditions, and irrespective of trade union membership, the authorities need to accommodate for: the immediate implementation of the applicable laws relative to labour rights, the immediate improvement of workers’ living conditions including drinking water and proper sanitation, the introduction of occupational health and safety procedures, the enforcement of the use of adequate PPE, a health care system for the workers including rapid access to a hospital, the availability of a medical insurance for workers, an adequate system for emergency response, the documentation of casualties, injuries, damages and occupational diseases and effective record-keeping, the provision of contracts or letter of appointments for workers and their automatic registration for social benefits.
- With regards to the dangers of asbestos, the sector-specific regulation needs to include strict requirements regarding OHS standards during removal, storage and disposal of asbestos to make sure that workers are not harmed and that elements containing asbestos cannot be re-sold. There is a need for regular medical check-ups. It is advisable to introduce a new draft law on asbestos safety.
- The responsible authorities need to monitor the implementation of laws and have enforcement mechanisms in place. This includes a training programme tailored for the designated officials including the judiciary (for instance in the local Labour Court). Compliance needs to be monitored especially with regards to: workers’ registration for social benefits, provision and use of personal protective equipment (PPE), application of environmental, health and safety procedures, use of obligatory on-site pollution control and safety gadgets, periodic monitoring of maintenance and improvements of on-site equipment, provision of sufficient, improved and satisfactory on-site health care system, adequate training status of workers and awareness of hazards, maintenance of hazardous waste inventory and disposal.
- The Government of Bangladesh should ratify the Basel Ban Amendment, thus prohibit the import of hazardous waste, and the Hong Kong Convention and seek early compliance with the provisions under the latter. Moreover, the Government should enforce all the provisions of the Basel Convention and seek guidance also from the EU Ship Recycling Regulation's standards for ship recycling facilities.
- The Government should support a study to define the level and distribution of contamination in and around the shipbreaking yards, and develop an inventory of hazardous wastes (e.g. for the unmarked asbestos dumping grounds). It should identify “hot spots” that need to be cleaned up. It can seek the international organisations’ expertise and support for this task. The SBC (UNEP) has started a survey in that sense and the Government should make sure they cooperate and access the information gathered.
- The Government needs to promote unbiased research on the working conditions and the environmental impact of shipbreaking. They need to allow for transparency and enhance civil society involvement. Moreover, they should embrace the active participation of trade unions and promote their independent and democratic structures.