The changing face of ship recycling in India

The changing face of ship recycling in India

A contribution from Shashinath Mishra, head of Indian Register Quality Systems.

India has the largest ship recycling industry, being responsible for one third of all recycled tonnage in the world with more than 150 yards along its coast. On average, close to 6.2m gt is scrapped in India every year, which accounts for 33% of the total scrapped tonnage in the world.

In recent years however, the ship recycling industry has grabbed headlines for the wrong reasons. Pollutants such as asbestos, heavy metal and oil are discharged into the water from ship breaking causing contamination into the coastal soil and its environment. A lack of occupational health and safety standards at these ship recycling yards leads to a high rate of injuries and even fatalities.

However, as ship recycling remains an integral part of the maritime industry, international maritime bodies are seeking ways to regulate it instead of shutting it down, and this has led to the adoption of new policy regimes at international level today.

Setting up of the Hong Kong Convention

The Hong Kong Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships (Hong Kong Convention) was adopted in May 2009 to address all the issues related to ship recycling, including the fact that ships sold for scrapping may contain environmentally hazardous substances such as asbestos, heavy metals, hydrocarbons, ozone depleting substances and others.

It also addressed concerns about the working and environmental conditions in many of the world’s ship recycling facilities.

Following which, India also started introducing strict regulatory requirements from 2007 that culminated in the adoption and enforcement of the Ship Recycling Code 2013. The Code introduced environmental, health and safety standards for ship recycling that are fully in line with the standards adopted by the International Maritime Organization.

With the Code in place, the recycling industry in Alang voluntarily invested its own money and resources in making additional improvements to their infrastructure, procedures and working methods. Although the Hong Kong Convention has yet to enter into force, the proactive approach of the ship recycling facilities has seen many enhancements to meet the Hong Kong Convention and develop the ship recycling facility plan required for a competent authority’s certification towards safer and greener ship recycling.

A move in the right direction: Training, certification and compliance

Recently IRClass has certified Kasturi Commodities Pvt Ltd, Madhav Industrial Corporation & Madhav Steels for Hong Kong Convention – HKC 2009 for Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships.

Four of the largest Indian ship recycling facilities Priya Blue Industries, Shree Ram Vessel Scrap, R.L. Kalathia Ship Breaking, and Leela Ship Recycling have also engaged IRClass Systems and Solutions Private Limited as an independent verifier to assess compliance with the requirements of EU SRR and apply to the European Commission, Directorate-General for Environment, Brussels for inclusion in the European List of recycling facilities.

The recycling facilities have also received Certificate of Quality Management System ISO 9001:2015, Certificate of Environmental Management System ISO 14001:2015, Certificate of Occupational Health and Safety Management System OHSAS 18001:2007, Certificate of Ship Recycling Management System ISO 30000:2009.

In order to meet the certification requirements, the facilities have been physically upgraded to include a wide variety of facilities such as an occupational health centre, negative air pressure asbestos abatement unit, workers changing and rest room, toilets, drinking water, both open-air and specialized covered storage areas, reducing the contact of the contaminated cut blocks from soil by cutting taking place on a concrete impermeable floor with appropriate drainage and effluent collection system.

Ship recycling yards also have to ensure that their employees are properly trained. All of the IRClass certified yards have to show the training and development plan for its employees which ensures that: –

· EHS Manager holds Asbestos Abatement Supervisor Certificate from a competent organisation; and
· Ship recycling facilities employees complete a comprehensive five day course on Hazardous Material Identification and Ship Recycling Plan Preparation by renowned organisation from Germany, conducted in Alang.
In addition to the above, the general workforce of IRCLASS certified yards at Alang are trained in:

1. Fire prevention and protection
2. Material handling training programme by Gujarat Safety Council, Vadodara
3. First aiders, trained by Indian Red Cross Society, Bhavnagar
4. Gas-cutters/ torch bearers, trained on Gas Cutting Operations by Indian Institute of Welding, Vadodara
5. Working at height and confined spaces training – conducted by competent organisation and
6. Emergency preparedness and rescue along with various drills by Indian Register of Shipping

This demonstrates the commitment of the management towards the skill development of their workforce.

Reflecting the change that is transforming the industry, these are the efforts undertaken by the ship recycling industry in India to shed its negative image of its pollution and poor safety record. More and more yards are associating with IRClass as it continues to receive applications for HKC 2009 compliance.

This trend serves to illustrate the strong commitment of the ship recycling industry in Alang – showing that it has changed for the better and that sustainable ship recycling is a reality.

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