9.7 The London Convention 1972/1996 Protocol
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Statutory Documents - IMO Publications and Documents - Resolutions - Assembly - IMO Resolution A.962(23) – IMO Guidelines on Ship Recycling – (Adopted on 5 December 2003)Amended by Resolution A.980(24) - Annex - IMO Guidelines on Ship Recycling - 9 Role of Stakeholders and Other Bodies - 9.7 The London Convention 1972/1996 Protocol

9.7 The London Convention 1972/1996 Protocol

9.7.1 Dumping of vessels The primary function of the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, 1972 (London Convention 1972) and of the 1996 Protocol to the London Convention 1972 is to control the disposal at sea of wastes or other matter. Under the London Convention the disposal at sea of industrial wastes and of radioactive wastes are prohibited, whereas under the London Protocol all disposal at sea is prohibited with certain exceptions. Both the Convention and the Protocol allow, in principle, the disposal at sea of decommissioned ships. However, in accordance with the “Specific Guidelines for Assessment of Vessels”footnote which were adopted in 2000 as an authoritative interpretation of both the Convention and the Protocol, the assessment of any proposal for disposal at sea is required where recycling is considered one of the alternatives to disposal. The “Specific Guidelines for Assessment of Vessels”, as a first step, work through a process of comprehensively examining alternatives to disposal at sea. If the option to recycle a ship is selected by the owner then the process for evaluation of the disposal at sea proposal stops. The process can, however, assist in preparing the vessel for the recycling option, as would be carried out similarly if it were disposed of at sea. The aforementioned guidelines outline in detail the equipment and contaminants aboard a vessel that should be removed prior to disposal. This process can be used as a guide for both shipowners, flag States and recycling States when preparing a ship for the recycling facility or the last voyage.

9.7.2 Abandonment of ships One concern related to ship recycling is that the final shipowner, in order to avoid recycling costs (clean-up, structural repairs for last voyage, towing, insurance, etc.), may choose to abandon a ship at sea or in port. The abandonment of a ship at sea, for the purpose of its disposal, constitutes an uncontrolled dumping operation and, therefore, should be considered a violation of the London Convention/Protocol and subject to enforcement procedures of relevant Parties following investigation. The abandonment of a ship in port, with or without its crew, is not covered by the London Convention/Protocol, but would be a liability matter for the port State to pursue with the flag State and the shipowner. In cases where the crew is also abandoned, port States should be encouraged to ensure the care and safe return of crew members to their countries of origin, citizenship, or residence as appropriate and to pursue recovery of the costs of such measures with the parties responsible for the abandonment in accordance with the relevant international standards presently being discussed by the Joint IMO-ILO Ad Hoc Expert Working Group on Liability and Compensation regarding claims for Death, Personal Injury and Abandonment of Seafarers.

9.7.3 “Placement” of vessels on the sea-bed

 Vessels, or parts thereof, are sometimes used for the construction of artificial reefs, or placed on selected locations for marine habitat enhancement or creation of a diving attraction. “Placement of matter for a purpose other than the mere disposal thereof” is excluded from the definition of “dumping” both under the London Convention and Protocol, provided such placement is not contrary to the aims of the Convention/Protocol and not used as an excuse for disposal at sea of waste materials. Notwithstanding the distinct differences between “dumping” and “placement”, in practice, a vessel needs to be well prepared and cleaned for such operations. Some national administrations have chosen to apply their licensing system for dumping also to construction of artificial reefs, possibly using vessels, in order to control the materials used for such construction.

9.7.4 Reports under the London Convention regarding dumping of vessels

 In most reports received by the London Convention Secretariat concerning permits issued by Contracting Parties for sea disposal of vessels, the removal of all floatable materials is mentioned, and the removal of all fuels, oils, liquid chemicals, and flushing of pipelines etc. Some national administrations have developed detailed clean-up standards for decommissioned vessels with particular attention given to disposal of vessels in shallow waters as diving attractions. In these standards, asbestos would not be removed from vessels as standard practice, as this does not harm the marine environment, but would be removed where there was a possibility of exposure to divers.

9.7.5 Options for disposal of decommissioned vessels

 Controlled sea disposal operations of decommissioned vessels under the London Convention/Protocol, controlled placement activities of such vessels on the seabed in accordance with national regulations, and recycling of decommissioned vessels on land have the same goal of preventing pollution of the (marine) environment. However, recycling of decommissioned vessels on land, where this is possible, is the preferred option from the perspective of the London Convention/Protocol.

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