Maersk defends Alang scrapping plan

Danish conglomerate reaffirms decision to scrap in India after local media’s investigative report.

AP Moller-Maersk has defended its choice to start scrapping vessels at Alang-based yards shortly after coming under harsh criticism from local media reports.

The Danish conglomerate revealed its plans to send old tonnage to India as part of its effort to help ratified shipbreaking facilities to improve in early 2016.

But a 28-page investigative report conducted collectively by Denmark’s Danwatch, TV2 and Politiken found that conditions at Alang are well below the required standards.

According to the report, yard employees work without a contract and conduct hazardous tasks without basic safety equipment.

Maersk sent the 4,306-teu Maersk Wyoming (built 1996) and the Maersk Georgia (built 1997) to the Shree Ram yard in May.

The report also found that the Danish company sent the 1984-built FPSO North Sea Producer in Bangladesh last year, adding to recent criticism.

In response, Maersk has stuck with its decision to scrap in India at the same time as recognising that this is not a simple process.

Annette Stube, head of group sustainability at Maersk, said: “We have chosen to no longer stand passively on the other side of the gate of the shipyard but instead engage directly where the majority of ships are dismantled.

“This is why we have initiated a collaboration with shipyards in India.

“Meanwhile we recognize and admit that our own contracts from divestments have not always guaranteed the intention of our recycling policy.

“We have learned from this. We have tightened our procedures and contract requirements while also realizing that the solution does not lie with clever contracts and that it may take a long time for a global agreement to become effective.”

Politiken reported that Maersk has regretted that the North Sea Producer, which was sold last year, ended up in a Bangladeshi yard.

Michael Pram Rasmussen, chairman of AP Moller-Maersk, is also described as “disappointed” that the company has gone in a direction different to its policy, according to the same report.

Stube added: “In Maersk we are thus responsible for ensuring responsible dismantling of our own vessels. This is a responsibility we fully accept.

“Lately we have taken on an extended responsibility by minimising the financial incentive for the buyer to scrap older vessels irresponsibly.”

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