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BRUSSELS, BelgiumThe European Commission is taking steps to make the dismantling of ships safer and less damaging to the environment.
In a consultation paper published May 22, the commission does not present a completed plan but suggests actions to be taken in the European Union until the process now underway to develop an international convention on safe ship recycling is completed.
E.U. member states need to take action on protecting workers and the environment until that time, Stavros Dimas, the E.C.'s environment commissioner, pointed out in a statement.
The E.C.'s so-called "green paper" calls for a financing scheme to fund ship dismantling, which could come from levies on the shipping industry. It also suggests, among other things, more frequent checks of vessels while they are in operation to make sure shipowners are complying with regulations on transporting wastes.
Dismantling is a particular problem in South Asia, where hundreds of deaths and injuries occur each year and coastlines are polluted by the work because of a lack of environmental, health and safety regulations, according to the E.C.
The situation is a major concern to the E.U. because around one in three ships in the world sail under the flag of an E.U. member state and even more are owned by E.U. companies, the E.C. said.
"The E.U. has a duty to take action to protect the health and safety of workers involved and reduce the pollution these activities are causing," Mr. Davros said of the E.C.'s efforts to address the problem at the E.U. level and work towards international regulations.
The E.C. is inviting public comment on the paper by Sept. 30. and will decide how to further pursue its ship dismantling strategy after reviewing the feedback.