Global Spirit set free

Belgium calls for rapid adoption of Hong Kong Convention after diffusing scrap dispute.

Authorities in Belgium have released a car-carrier that has been sitting in detention at the port of Antwerp for nearly a month after landing at the centre of an environmental policy dispute.

In a statement the Environment, Nature & Energy Department indicated that the 47,500-gt Global Spirit (built 1987) will now proceed to a recycling facility in Turkey for scrapping.

“The vessel has been held in the port because of the owner’s plans to export the ship outside the OECD without being compliant with the applicable environmental regulations,” it said.

“The last few days all parties have been working together in an open and constructive manner in order to find the best possible solution for this vessel.”

As we reported environmentalists pressed politicians to detain the vessel in response to concerns that it contained toxic waste and was going to be scrapped in India, which ignited a debate about the enforcement of regulations that govern the recycling industry and safety standards.

“The ship is expected to contain asbestos in its construction as well as explosive and flammable fuel residues which lies as a hidden danger for thousands of unprotected workers in Alang,” the NGO Shipbreaking Platform wrote in a statement released earlier this month.

Today, the Environment, Nature & Energy Department used its update about the Global Spirit as an opportunity to “stress the importance” of rapidly adopting the Hong Kong Convention, which it sees as “the best way forward” for ship recycling, in and outside OECD nations.

The agency also urged other countries to push for the protection of workers involved in the dismantling of commercial ships and pressed other EU members to support scrap yards that are “truly undertaking meaningful efforts” to adopt higher safety standards.

“That way not only all sustainable recycling facilities can distinguish themselves and be rewarded for the efforts taken, but also hope can be given towards those facilities that still have a longer way to go,” the organisation added in the statement, which was issued today.

At last check the Global Spirit was controlled by World Car Carriers, a joint venture between Japan’s Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) and Nissan Car Carriers, a company in which Hoegh Autoliners, the ship’s most recent charterer, is also a major shareholder.

NGO Shipbreaking Platform claims the vessel was sold for $512 per ldt, or $6.5m, after the owner turned down an offer to scrap the unit in Turkey, a country that is regarded as having safer and more environmentally friendly ship-breaking practices, for $380 per ldt.

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