DOE Open to Ship Recycling

Iran is a signatory to the Hong Kong Convention, which is aimed at ensuring safe dismantling and recycling of ships that have lived out their operational lives
Shipbreaking has become an issue of global environmental and health concerns in recent years.Shipbreaking has become an issue of global environmental and health concerns in recent years.

The Department of Environment is opposed to the highly-polluting practice of shipbreaking, but might allow the establishment of a recycling center if certain conditions are met, according to a senior DOE official.

Speaking to IRNA, Parvin Farshchi, deputy for marine environment, said, “It is possible to issue a permit for only one ship recycling center on the shores of the Sea of Oman if environmental regulations are upheld.”

The official said the department believes an area around the northeastern part of the sea (along the coast of Sistan-Baluchestan Province) would be a good place to set up the center.

“We encourage recycling but specific conditions must be met,” she said.

Some of those conditions include conducting risk assessment and feasibility studies, including the assessment of environmental and social impacts of a recycling center.

“There is absolutely no way to allow such a project on the coasts of the Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea,” she added.

Farshchi acknowledged that the industry is very lucrative, but warned that its potential impacts on the environment are worse.

“Investors must guarantee that recycling ships won’t cause pollution,” she said.

There are hundreds of sunken ships in the Persian Gulf and about 170 boats in Iran’s Arvand River, which might have forced DOE to take a step back and allow the establishment of a recycling center, albeit under strict conditions.


 Opposition Since 1987

The department has opposed the enterprise ever since it was first broached in 1987.

Elaborating on DOE’s opposition to shipbreaking, Farshchi said there is every chance that parts salvaged from old ships will pile up in shipbreaking yards, whereas a recycling center is obliged to recycle.

Iran is a signatory to the 2009 Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, widely referred to as the Hong Kong Convention, which is “aimed at ensuring that ships, when being recycled after reaching the end of their operational lives, do not pose any unnecessary risks to human health, safety and to the environment,” according to the International Maritime Organization.

Due to its severe environmental impact, shipbreaking is tightly regulated in the developed world, because of which the bulk of the process is done in the developing world where stringent regulations are hardly enforced.

Although a lucrative industry, shipbreaking is practiced in only a handful of countries: China, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Turkey. In the developed world, Norway and Britain practice ship recycling under strict environmental laws with modern technology.

“I’ve visited shipbreaking yards in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and witnessed severe soil and air pollution in and around the yards,” Farshchi said.

Shipbreaking has become an issue of global environmental and health concern in recent years. Oceangoing vessels are not meant to be taken apart. They are designed to withstand extreme forces in some of the planet’s most difficult and unfriendly environments, and they are often constructed with toxic materials, such as asbestos and lead.

Many shipbreaking yards operate under lax or no environmental laws, enabling large quantities of highly toxic materials to escape into the general environment and causing serious health problems among shipbreakers, the local population and wildlife.

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