19 August 2017

Ship recycling raised at CBRM council:

Nobody wants a shipwrecker in their front yard.

The HMCS Preserver, shown here in drydock at Halifax Shipyards, will soon be broken up at the Sydport Industrial Park. (Staff)
The HMCS Preserver, shown here in drydock at Halifax Shipyards, will soon be broken up at the Sydport Industrial Park. (Staff)

The mere word conjures up images of leaking oil, rusted debris and overseas workers whose lives, in the absence of environmental regulation, are shortened by heavy metals and contaminated fluids. That may have driven Coun. Earlene McMullin’s displeasure during the Cape Breton Regional Municipality council meeting Tuesday.

“I’ve got a little bit of shake in my voice because it’s killing me to sit here and spend council’s time to get clarification on whether ships can be destroyed downtown on Commercial Street,” McMullin said. “I’ll breathe through the enragement, but it just seems so backward that I have to do that.”

McMullin was complaining about differing opinions she received from CBRM staff on whether Canadian Marine Engineering — which bought a waterfront park in downtown North Sydney from the municipality two years ago, bulldozed it and built a marine lift and repair shop — was legally entitled to also cut up ships for scrap metal.

So she asked again in public: “Where CME is located on Commercial Street, does the zoning permit either recycling or breaking of steel-hulled vessels, or any vessel, for that matter?”

“No,” answered planning director Malcolm Gillis.

The rumour that CME wanted to break ships in McMullin’s neighbourhood was sparked by a Transport Canada report that mentioned the company’s capacity for recycling ships of up to 2,500 tonnes.

But as Coun. Kendra Coombs pointed out, CME staff said they don’t intend to break ships in North Sydney, and as Gillis noted, CME owns facilities at other locations, including Dartmouth and Victoria, B.C. where it might be interested in doing that.

The not-in-my-backyard attitude to shipwrecking has not spread to the Sydport Industrial Park, where another company, Marine Recycling, began this week to break up the newly-arrived HMCS Preserver.

The first ship to come to Sydney to “die” in decades, the Preserver is around the 130th for MRC, which was founded by Wayne Elliot in Port Colborn, Ont.

Elliot hoped four years ago to expand to Sydney but after being denied two aged ferries from Marine Atlantic, which has a terminal in downtown North Sydney, he waited, knowing another chance would come along.

“Our federal government decided that Canadian-flagged vessels and government-owned vessels should be recycled in Canada to promote safe recycling as well as provide jobs and raw materials, and not ship those things offshore,” Elliot said.

“There are warships just coming to their end this year, and in a number of years down the road I suppose the frigates will start to be recycled. There are Coast Guard vessels and Department of Fishery vessels, and of course commercial vessels . . the biggest source of our work.”

In Sydney, MRC’s worksite is “not a very large space, really,” Elliot said. “A couple of acres and, of course, the dock. There won’t be materials stored on site. Once the material is processed . . . it will be shipped off site.

“Most of the ship components are metal. . .

“Metal is infinitely recyclable. What today is your vehicle may tomorrow be razor blades or something else. The beauty with metal recycling is the energy saving and of course the savings to the environment.”

When MRC recycles a ship, no part of it ends up in the water, he said. “Before we tow, liquids, oils or any water are removed from the vessel . . . We’ve done a number of successful tows since the new regulations and we’re very much in favour of them.

“When vessels do have accidents, sinkings, it’s those hydrocarbons that just keep on giving the carnage and so we’re fully supportive of that regulation.”

The company has had one major loss, in 2010, when a submarine caught fire as it was being dismantled, Elliot described that as a “freak accident” caused by floating debris.

“If safety is not first and foremost in this business, then one may not be in it too long. We’re very proud of our record. We’re the world’s oldest ISO certified ship recycler, since 2000.”

MRC was an unpaid consultant to Canada’s member of the Basel and Hong Kong Conventions when they were setting the rules and the policies around shipbreaking, Elliot said.

“It has become an environmental business, shipbreaking has. Other parts of the world that are sadly lacking in safety and environmental stewardship have begun to improve their operations. So, it’s all headed in the right direction.”

Source: the chronicle herald. 15 August 2017

Tanker scrapping at its highest in 2017:

More tankers have been sold for scrapping in 2017 so far, and at a younger age, than the previous two years.

According to Alibra Shipping, in 2017 so far, 49 tankers have been scrapped with an average age of 24.5 years. In 2015 and 2016 it was 27.3 and 27.4 years, respectively.

The London based shipbroker reports that a depressed freight market and low spot rates, the lowest since 2014, has led to higher demolitions.

The Greek market has sent the largest tonnage of tankers for recycling. 24% of all tanker tonnage sent for demolition has been done by the Greeks this year, compared to their contribution of 10% throughout the whole of 2016.

Bangladesh is the favourable location over other yards in India. Reportedly, this is because of ongoing environmental regulations that often means fitting technologies is not worth the cost of the ship. Instead, owners are financially better off scrapping their ships and ordering new ones with higher energy efficiency designs and integrated technologies.

Source: hellenic shipping news. 18 August 2017

15 August 2017

Shipbreaking of former navy oiler HMCS Preserver to occur in Sydney Harbour:

Marine Recycling Corp. of Port Colborne, Ont., won a $12.6-million contract to scrap the former HMCS Preserver, a decommissioned Canadian naval auxiliary oiler replenishment vessel, and the auxiliary research vessel Quest.

HMCS Preserver

SYDNEY — Shipbreaking will be done at the McKeil Marine docks, across Sydney Harbour from the downtown marine terminal.

On Friday, officials with the Department of National Defence and Public Services and Procurement Canada were on hand at the Sydport Industrial Park docks to announce a $12.6-million contract to Marine Recycling of Ontario for the disposal of former naval auxiliary oiler replenishment vessel HMCS Preserver and former Canadian Forces auxiliary research vessel Quest.

Earlier this year, Marine Recycling, based in Port Colborne, Ont., also won a $2.6-million contract to scrap the MV Princess of Acadia, which was the former Digby ferry.

The former oiler and ferry are both tied up in Sydney Harbour waiting to be scrapped, while the research vessel is expected to arrive at the docks this fall.

Marine Recycling founder Wayne Elliott said the former Princess of Acadia was supposed to be recycled at the company's Ontario facility, but towing of dead vessels is currently on hold in the St. Lawrence Seaway, so the former ferry is stuck waiting in Sydney Harbour.

Elliott said his company is leasing space at the McKeil Marine docks and has been shipbreaking in Ontario for decades.

Despite the industry's well deserved reputation for being environmentally unfriendly, shipbreaking can be done safely and Marine Recycling plans to follow all environmental regulations, he said.

"Our company ... was the world's first environmentally ISO-certified company, 15 years ahead of the second, since the year 2000," Elliott said during a press conference with Sydney-Victoria MP Mark Eyking.

"And we operate at quite a different standard than the areas of the world that you're speaking of now with all the bad news and the carnage. We're the oldest ship recycler in the world. We've been at it longer than anyone else in the world, and I think this is ship No. 134 with no accidents, no insurance claims, no loss of vessels.

"So it's a pretty good track record and we have no intention of changing that."

Eyking, who was speaking on behalf of acting public services minister Jim Carr, said the latest contract would add 35 direct jobs in Cape Breton and he has no concerns about the environment around Sydney Harbour.

Marine Recycling has a long family history of successful shipbreaking, he said.

"We are very confident in ... their company and the work that they have done, and the work they're going to do here over the next little while," Eyking said. "This is not something that is new to the corporation. They've been doing this in Port Colborne and it's something that we can do well in this country.

"We have the expertise to do it and in an environmentally sound way."

Eyking said several times the ship was being "decommissioned" and that he hoped other decommissioning work would come to Sydney Harbour, but federal officials later said technically Preserver was decommissioned last year in Halifax. They said the latest contract is for shipbreaking, not decommissioning.

Decommissioning involves removing key operating components and taking a ship out of service. Shipbreaking involves cutting the ship up for scrap.

Elliott said all hazardous materials, such as batteries, fuel and oil, were removed from the ship before it was towed from Halifax to Sydney. The ship still contains some asbestos, but Elliott said dangerous materials like that would be handled and disposed of safely and according to regulations.

Workers will test various internal components for dangerous materials, such as asbestos and heavy metals, and then begin cutting the ship apart from the inside, he said.

Once that work is done, the ship's exterior will be cut apart. Many of the materials, including the ship's steel, will be sold for scrap.

Elliott also said much of the work can be done while the ship floats, however the company will eventually install a slip that will allow the ship to be taken out of the water for final dismantling.

He also said the company, based on Lake Erie, has long wanted to work on Canada's East Coast and is now planning to take on its main shipbreaking competitors in Turkey.

"We hope this is the start of a good, long-term operation and relationship," said Elliott.

The steam-driven Preserver was built in 1970 and was paid off — decommissioned — last year in Halifax, after serving as a military supply ship for decades. Her sister ship, Protecteur, was scrapped in Liverpool last year.

Mike Stege, a ship disposal officer with National Defence, said it was "bittersweet" being in charge of dismantling the former Preserver, especially because he served as the ship's chief electrician from 1999 to 2001, overseeing all electrical systems and propulsion.

"It's a bittersweet moment when you look at her now," he said. "You come full circle from a living ship to all of a sudden I'm disposal manager, so that's a little different.

"It becomes a part of you. When you sail with 300 of your best friends for months upon months at sea, you become very close. It's no longer an inanimate object. It lives with you.

"Every ship has a different personality. Completely different. This one, because she has so much sea time, she used to do long deployments of fuelling NATO ships and all that, so we'd be gone for six months at a time. It was nothing in those days for us to sail 200-plus days in a year.

"This one, her nickname is the Heart of the Fleet, basically because she supplies food, water, everything to so many.

"The problem is with her, she's a steam-driven (ship), so as technology advanced, steam is still steam. It was time to put the little lady down. You can't find parts for them anymore."

Retired chief petty officer second class Mike Senman of Eastern Passage spent a brief period aboard Preserver during training in 1988 and served as a marine engineer on the ship from 2002 to 2009.

He said some service members implied the supply ship was a luxury cruiser because of its size and stability on the sea.

However, Senman said, it was also hard work and it was sometimes dangerous.

"A lot of the other sailors would call it the Love Boat because she's big and fat and proud and she rides really well along the ocean," he said. "The destroyers and the frigates tend to bob up and down just because of the way they're cut."

In 1988, Senman had just gone off watch while Preserver was fuelling a NATO ship on one side. On the other side, a British vessel accidentally ran into Preserver and punched a hole in her side above the waterline.

No one was injured in the incident, he said. There was no danger of sinking, and thankfully there was no fire.

Because of the length of time spent at sea, sailors tend to think fondly of ships as their home away from home, and that makes it difficult to watch as ships are dismantled, said Senman.

He happened to see the former Protecteur being taken apart in Liverpool last year, and it hurt.

"You kind of avoid looking at it, but if you do look at it, it's a sad thing to see," Senman said. "Especially the main engineering spaces, like the main engines, the turbines and the gearbox, things that we watched over so carefully all those years to make sure everything was done right ... the heart of the ship.

"And then you see these contractors and they start ripping and tearing things. They have no idea what they're ripping and tearing, but it's like ripping our hearts out watching that stuff go.

"Seeing the main gear wheel on the jetty in Liverpool from the Protecteur ... it's quite sad, quite shocking to see, because some of that gearing is as pristine as it was when that ship was built."

Source: local xpress. 05 August 2017

European Commission reports on feasibility of a financial instrument-NGOs urge that it is necessary to hold the shipping industry accountable:

The European Commission released its report (here) on the viability of a financial incentive for sustainable ship recycling under the EU Ship Recycling Regulation this week. Whilst it acknowledges the benefits for clean and safe ship recycling such an incentive would bring, the European Commission has decided to wait with its introduction. NGOs urge the EU to take action now as it is well documented that ship owners will with ease be able to circumvent the EU Ship Recycling Regulation by simply swapping the flag of their vessel to that of a non-EU State.

The report of the European Commission is based on the study which was conducted by Ecorys, DNV-GL and the University of Rotterdam/Erasmus, and published at the end of 2016. The proposed instrument in the study is in the form of a licence which each ship, regardless of its flag, needs to acquire in order to enter EU ports. This licence can be bought monthly, yearly, or every 5 years, depending on the trading requirements, and will be ship-specific. At the end of the ship’s life, the money spent on buying the licences will have been put aside and can be paid back to the last owner of that ship once it is recycled at a facility which is approved according to the EU Ship Recycling Regulation. Such an incentive will offset the higher profits made when selling to substandard shipbreaking yards and ensure the proper recycling of EU-trading ships regardless of their flags.

In the report published on 8 August, the European Commission sees this system of the Ship Recycling Licence as a workable solution if it is demonstrated that there are many ships that will flag out to circumvent the EU Ship Recycling Regulation, thereby weakening its effectiveness. All EU-flagged vessels will have to be recycled in an EU-approved facility starting from the end of 2018 at the latest. Only once it is clear what the effects of the EU List are on the recycling choices of shipowners, will the Commission consider whether to go ahead with introducing the Ship Recycling Licence. Therefore, if shipowners choose to recycle their vessels responsibly in a facility on the EU List and do not flag out in order to circumvent the Ship Recycling Regulation, the Commission believes that it will not be necessary to introduce a financial mechanism.

However, flagging out at end-of-life is a practice which is already widespread. Most shipowners sell their obsolete vessels to so-called cash buyers. These scrap-dealers become the new owners of the ships and both re-name and re-flag the vessels for their last voyage to the beaching yards in South Asia. Particularly popular registries amongst the cash buyers are the Paris MoU grey- and black-listed flags of Comoros, Palau and St. Kitts and Nevis – flags that are known for their poor implementation of laws governing labour rights and environmental protection at sea. Maersk also already threatened that it would flag out its fleet from the Danish registry if the Alang beaching yards they have recently chosen to use are not approved by the EU. Swapping the flag of a ship is easy and makes it very simple for cash buyers and shipowners to circumvent the law. The motivation for doing so is also simple: dirty and dangerous shipbreaking brings higher profits due to the lack of investments in infrastructure, illicit handling of hazardous wastes and extremely poor working conditions. For these reasons the NGO Shipbreaking Platform urges the EU Commission to not wait for the effects of the EU List, but instead show that it intends to take all measures possible to change the current deplorable shipping practices and commit now to making a legislative proposal to introduce a financial incentive.

“The huge benefit of this licence scheme is that it will also apply to non-EU flagged ships, meaning that the scope of the EU Ship Recycling Regulation will be much wider and will truly be a driving force for change in the shipping industry”, says Ingvild Jenssen, Director of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform. “Those shipowners that are already taking responsibility for their end-of-life fleet should be supportive of the Ship Recycling Licence as it will create a level playing field ensuring that also their competitors pay the price of clean and safe ship recycling,” she adds.

Legislation based on flag state jurisdiction alone is far too easy to circumvent. That is why more policies aimed at improving the social and environmental performance of shipping is being enforced via port state control. The Ship Recycling Licence is as such in line with international trade law. Taking also into account the widespread acknowledgement that financial incentives are key in ensuring the success of environmental policies, it seems obvious that a return scheme for ships is needed to change the behavior of shipowners that currently earn profits at the detriment of workers’ health and lives and the environment.

Source: hellenic shipping news. 12 August 2017

12 August 2017

Gadani's Shipbreaking Unions Debate Representation:


Following a series of collective bargaining negotiations over wages and labor conditions, the three labor unions for shipbreaking workers in Gadani, Pakistan are engaged in a dispute over which might be the legitimate representative of the yards' workers. The Ship-Breaking Labour Union, Gadani alleges that all of the others are "fake."

At a recent press conference, union finance secretary Musharraf Humayun told The News that "fake groups" held "unauthorized press conferences" and masqueraded as workers' unions. In particular, he singled out Nasil Mansoor of the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF). However, workers allege that the Ship-Breaking Labour Union is actually controlled by shipbreaking labour contractors – the employers – and say that they must agree with its views or find themselves out of work.

Last month, NTUF and its partners called for a labor action to protest slow implementation of promised safety improvements, like an ambulance service and a fire brigade. Mansoor claimed that employers had installed out-of-date safety equipment salvaged from ships and had not yet hired ambulance drivers or doctors. But the union reached an accord with shipbreaking employers last Friday, including a 10 percent raise, and it called off the strike. NTUF has worked to avoid yard closures, even while calling for improvements, saying that the yards' impoverished migrant workers would be hurt more by the loss of work.

Gadani has been plagued by a series of deadly accidents over the past year, including the explosion and fire aboard the decommissioned FPSO Aces, which killed at least 26 workers and injured dozens more. Seven workers have died in various accidents over the months since, including five killed in another ship fire in January.

Source: maritime-executive. 09 August 2017