EU ship recycling legislation, news on the hazardous materials front

By ASLA - Associazione Studi Legali Associati

di Marco Manzone*

Genova - On 31 December 2020 the EU Regulation no. 1257/2013 of 20 November 2013 relating to ship recycling (hereinafter the "Regulation" or "Regulation 1257/2013"). To date, in fact, the part of the Regulation that prescribes the obligation, even for non-new ships, to have an inventory of the hazardous materials existing on board and to keep it updated during the life cycle of the ship is not yet effective.

In recent years, the issue of ship recycling has become topical not only for those working in the sector. The images from ship recycling yards on the Indian beaches of Alang and Chittagong in Bangladesh have traveled the world and have certainly contributed to raising awareness in the international community on the issue of illegal and dangerous ship recycling practices, bringing then to the adoption of the 2009 Hong Kong Convention for safe and environmentally friendly ship recycling.

The Regulation 1257/2013 was born with the specific intent of facilitating the rapid ratification of the Hong Kong Convention, which unfortunately, after more than ten years from its adoption, has not yet entered into force, lacking ratification by a number of states that represent at least 40% of the world fleet and 3% of the maximum annual volume of ship recycling in the last ten years.

Regulation 1257/2013 follows the structure of the Hong Kong Convention, with the inclusion of some more rigorous rules, and its purpose is to ensure the protection of people's health and the environment from the possible negative effects of the hazardous materials present. on board ships, through a legislative instrument directly applicable within the territory of the European Union.

Regulation 1257/2013 applies to ships from EU countries over 500 gross tons, but some of its provisions also apply to ships from third countries that land in European ports.

The discipline dictated by the Regulation (as indeed that of the Convention) does not only concern the preparation of the ship for the final moment of recycling and the regulation of recycling facilities, but also applies to the phase of the ship's operation during its life cycle.

The Regulation is already partially in force since 31 December 2018: from that date, in fact, the rules that impose sustainable recycling on all European ships are applicable, which must take place in recycling plants verified and approved by the European Union, according to rules established by the Regulations, as well as the rules that require new ships to have an inventory of hazardous materials and a related certificate issued by the flag administration.

From 31 December 2020, however, the effectiveness of the Regulation will finally be complete, with the entry into force of the rules that impose, even for existing ships, the obligation to keep on board an inventory of the hazardous materials listed in Annexes I and II of the Regulations.

This inventory must be verified by the flag administration through an initial check to be carried out by 31 December 2020 and, following this check, the inventory certificate will be issued by the same administration (or by its recognized organization).

The shipowner is also required to keep the inventory of hazardous materials updated during the entire operational life of the ship.

To this end, the shipowner must obtain from the suppliers of the new products that will be installed on board a declaration (so-called "Material Declaration") indicating the presence or absence, in such products, of the hazardous materials listed in the Regulations and, if so , the quantity of hazardous materials with respect to the tolerance thresholds established in the guidelines issued by the IMO in 2015 on the preparation of the inventory, as supplemented by the subsequent EMSA guidelines issued in 2017.

The "Material Declaration" must also be accompanied by a further declaration from the supplier which will confirm its validity based on the existence of a quality management procedure.

The shipowner or, if different, the management company responsible for the tasks imposed by the ISM Code is then obliged to develop the necessary procedures and guidelines for adapting to the rules of the regulation, which will become an integral part of the management manual of the ship security, and for this purpose a competent person must also be appointed to represent a link between the shipowner and the on-board personnel in the management of the application processes established by the Regulations.

It is important to note that the Regulation further expands its range of action, imposing the obligation to draw up the inventory of hazardous materials and to update it not only on EU ships, but also on ships from non-EU countries that call. or anchorage in a member state of the European Union. These ships, too, starting from 31 December 2020, will have to have an inventory of hazardous materials and a declaration of conformity issued by the flag authority and will also have to obtain the relative declarations from suppliers, in the case of installation on board of new products.

Finally, it should be remembered that in July of this year, Italy passed a legislative decree containing the sanctioning discipline of violations of the provisions of Regulation 1257/2013, in order to prevent the circumvention of the rules on ship recycling.

In conclusion, the full and complete entry into force of Regulation 1257/2013 completes the effort made by the European Union in pursuing the goal of ensuring the transparency of ship recycling procedures. The hope is that now the Hong Kong Convention can also come into force in order to standardize and harmonize the regulation of ship recycling for the entire international maritime community.

*Lawyer, Partner of Dardani Studio Legale

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