The NGO Shipbreaking Platform has called for the safe and environmentally friendly recycling of the FSO Safer, currently being salvaged off the coast of Yemen.
The UNDP is looking for a destination for the FSO’s recycling, and the Platform is calling on the Dutch government, one of the biggest donors to the Stop Red Sea Oil Pollution operation, to assist UNDP in identifying a suitable recycling facility.
The Netherlands has shown leadership in preventing the environmental disaster an oil spill from the FSO Safer would have caused, says the Platform, along with Dutch company Boskalis, via its subsidiary SMIT Salvage, which has been tasked with the removal of the oil from the FSO.
Referring to Dutch involvement in the Stop Red Sea Oil Pollution operation, Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Liesje Schreinemacher, has said that the Netherlands will continue helping the UN to bring this to a good end.
“A good end entails ensuring that the FSO Safer is recycled at a facility that fully respects labour rights, operates from a dry-dock or features on the European List of approved ship recycling facilities,” says Ingvild Jenssen, Director of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform. “The Dutch government is a pioneer in environmentally friendly technologies implementing sound life-cycle practices, and Boskalis has been at the forefront as one of the first ship owners in the world to adopt an ‘off the beach’ ship recycling policy. This should guide the so far successful Stop Red Sea Oil Pollution operation’s final and equally crucial stage.”
Shipping broker Clarkson, on behalf of the UNDP, has already received bids for the towing and scrapping of the vessel. The Platform has urged UNDP to comply with international waste law and opt for a final destination that can guarantee practices beyond the “weak” standards set by the IMO’s Hong Kong Convention.
The Platform has previously warned that Hong Kong Convention will fail to ensure sustainable ship recycling. The convention will enter into force in June 2025.
“This international convention rubberstamps shipbreaking on tidal mudflats and ignores labour rights and international rules for hazardous waste management. It will only serve the interests of shipping companies to avoid paying the true cost of sustainable and ethical recycling and undercut efforts to level the playing field for responsible ship recyclers to compete. As it stands, the Hong Kong Convention undermines the overall credibility of not only its own stated objectives, but also that of the IMO,” says Jenssen.
NGOs world-wide, the UN Special Rapporteur on Toxics and Human Rights, the Centre for International Environmental Law and the European Parliament have all exposed the fatal weakness of the Hong Kong Convention’s standards and enforcement mechanisms, she says. Furthermore, the majority of the 191 countries party to the UNEP Basel Convention, which controls the global trade of hazardous wastes, including end-of-life ships, and bans the export of toxic wastes from OECD to non-OECD countries, found that the Hong Kong Convention fails to provide an equivalent level of control to the Basel Convention as it does not prevent the dumping of toxic ships in developing countries.
She says that another major flaw inherent in the Hong Kong Convention is that the responsibility for its enforcement is only put on the end-of-life vessel’s flag state and the recycling state. This means that grey- and blacklisted end-of-life flag states, notorious for their poor implementation of international maritime law and particularly popular for last voyages to the South Asian beaches, along with local authorities in South Asia which have done little to prevent the death of more than 430 workers since 2009, will be in charge of enforcement without any independent control mechanisms in place.