Cleaning up the HazMat act
Safety and environmental responsibility related to sustainable ship recycling, was the focus of attention for 87 members representing a cross-section of the shipping industry who attended an Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST) UAE branch technical meeting on 11th April, when Rakesh Bhargava, Director Sea Sentinels, presented ‘Inventory of Hazardous Materials (IHM) and its Maintenance’.
Many participated, conscious of the fact that deadlines on having an IHM onboard loom viz. the EU has implemented the Ship Recycling Regulation which requires a certified IHM for all vessels calling European ports from December 2020 onwards. Furthermore, it has established compulsory IHM for European flag vessels being recycled since 2016.
On the other hand, IMO’s Hong Kong Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships stipulates requirements for both ships and ship recycling facilities. Commensurate with the convention, ships of 500 gt and above should have a certified IHM on board. The agreement will enter into force after receiving 15 ratifications, representing 40% of the world merchant shipping by gross tonnage, and on average 3% of recycling tonnage for the previous 10 years. Currently 10 flag administrations have consented.
During the meeting, Rakesh Bhargava highlighted the fact that the regulations have been designed to improve existing ship breaking practices and the health and safety of ship maintenance personnel.
Ship owners are obliged to choose an appropriate recycling yard for their ships that meet expected standards of safety for their work force and practice environmentally sound recycling processes. Sea Sentinels offer on-site monitoring on behalf of the ship owner, from arrival of the ship until completion of recycling. This is to ensure safety, environmental and health procedures as required by regulations and as laid down in the Ship Recycling Facility Plans (SRFP) and Ship Recycling Plan (SRP) are closely followed.
While in principle the preparation of IHMs are crucial for green ship recycling, potential problems include the quality and contents of the IHMs, considering the mounting pressures on shipowners, surveyors and the capacity of those tasked with drawing up the inventories to cover the global commercial fleet of 30000 ships before the deadline kicks in.
Nikeel Idnani, Honorary Secretary of the IMarEST UAE branch who opened the meeting with a video of a large ship being beached made references to current and upcoming regulations related to green recycling in pre-approved listed shipyards. He described the IHM as a ‘quagmire of upheaval’ as the shipping industry risks being caught off guard next year when vessels will need to have the inventory onboard. He emphasized the importance of the IHM as they allow recyclers to know exactly what hazardous materials are onboard a vessel and where they are located.
Left-field ideas, tangential discussions and spirited debates cultivated a typical IMarEST UAE branch meeting environment, built by a diverse maritime community that is welcomed into the inclusive branch where one’s background and designation are irrelevant, while the knowledge they share and the enthusiasm they display are unqualified benefits for the maritime fraternity in the Middle East.