Shipowner sentenced to prison for illegal export of toxic vessel

Norwegian shipowner convicted to six months imprisonment for having aided cash buyer in attempt to illegally export toxic ship to Pakistan for scrapping.

In late November, the Sunnhordland District Court in Norway sentenced ship owner Georg Eide to six months unconditional imprisonment for having assisted scrap dealer Wirana in an attempt to illegally export the TIDE CARRIER (aka EIDE CARRIER and HARRIER) to Pakistan for scrapping. The Court also ordered the confiscation of criminal dividends of NOK 2 million (US$227,115) from Eide Marine Eidendom AS.

After a decade in lay-up in Norway, the TIDE CARRIER was sold to one of the most well-known cash buyers, Wirana. The intent was to scrap the ship on the beach of Gadani in Pakistan. The NGO Shipbreaking Platform, together with its member organization Bellona, tipped the police about the imminent illegal export in February 2017. 

The vessel was impounded upon finding onboard a “last voyage for breaking in Pakistan insurance” issued by Skuld Maritime Agency and two certificates issued on the same day by Marine Warranty Surveyor Aqualis Offshore – one for a voyage with the purpose of refurbishment work in Dubai and one for a last voyage to the scrap yards in Pakistan.

“Eide has been charged with complicity in violation of international waste law. The judgement acts as a stark warning that dodgy deals with cash buyers aimed at scrapping vessels on South Asian beaches, where there is no capacity and infrastructure to recycle and dispose of hazardous wastes in a safe and environmentally sound manner, are a serious crime,” says Ingvild Jenssen, Director of NGO Shipbreaking Platform. 

“It also cautions that due diligence is a must for not only ship owners, but also insurers and Marine Warranty Surveyors, to avoid any business relationship with companies that have terrible track records.”

Waste exports are strictly regulated by Norwegian, European and international law. The purpose is to protect developing countries from the dumping of hazardous wastes and the harm caused to workers, surrounding communities and the environment when toxics are not treated in an environmentally sound manner. 

Ships contain numerous toxic materials such as asbestos, heavy metals in paints and residue oils. Last year, the Basel Convention Ban Amendment entered into global force, banning the export of hazardous wastes, including end-of-life ships, from OECD to non-OECD countries. The EU transposed the Ban Amendment into EU Law in 1997.

Waste trafficking linked to shipbreaking is being investigated by enforcement authorities in several EU Member States. It is also being looked at from a transnational point of view via Europol and Interpol. 

The Norwegian District Court emphasized an increasing need to counter environmental crime. Public Prosecutor Maria Bache Dahl and the judges stressed that there was no doubt that Eide had knowledge that the ship would be scrapped in Asia, and had also provided assistance in preparing for its last voyage.  Eide may appeal the verdict.

“The scrapping of obsolete ships is a major international environmental problem. As a large maritime nation, it is important that the Norwegian authorities contribute to the fight against this problem,” said Public Prosecutor Bache Dahl.

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