Opposition parties in Denmark have called on the government to ensure that end-of-life vessels owned by the Danish shipping giant Maersk cannot be broken down in beaching yards, NGO Shipbreaking Platform reports.
The Danish Environment Minister, Esben Lunde Larsen, had to answer to the Parliament following questions put to the government by all the opposition parties.
The list of questions had been drafted two months earlier, prompted by the revelations of Maersk’s shipbreaking practices in South Asia by the Danish investigative journalists, Danwatch, and the daily newspaper, Politiken.
According to NGO Shipbreaking Platform, Minister Larsen ”was unable to give political direction on how the government would work to stop Danish companies’ use of the polluting and dangerous beaching practices in South Asia and on Maersk’s threat to swap the Danish flag for a non-EU flag if the EU does not approve ship recycling on the beaches of Alang.”
The MPs present, representing the spectrum of Danish opposition political parties, pressed the minister to answer concrete and direct questions on the Danish government’s position on beaching, Maersk’s reported threat to flag out, and whether the government is pressing the EU Commission to list beaching yards in Alang on the upcoming EU list of accepted facilities world-wide.
They also asked the minister to outline how he thought safe working conditions and protection from pollution could ever be ensured when dismantling a vessel in the intertidal zone of a beach, and requested the minister to provide strong political support to end beaching.
”To all the questions and comments, the minister however repeatedly appealed to his ignorance about the shipbreaking industry and to the literal text of the EU guidelines under the Ship Recycling Regulation. Whilst the Minister admitted that flagging out to circumvent EU law is not compatible with responsible business practices, he refused to answer how he would make sure that Danish shipping companies only use facilities that are on the upcoming EU List of approved recycling practices, and which is not expected to include facilities that use the beaching method. Clearly, Minister Lunde Larsen, in the two months he had to prepare before the meeting with the MPs, chose to only be briefed by the interested lobby groups who promote beaching practices; most notably the biggest company in Denmark, Maersk,” NGO Shipbreaking Platform said.