The pledge comes after one of the groups criticized the method of disposal of a former Horizon Lines ship, the Horizon Trader. Matson acquired part of Horizon Lines in May, but a recycling yard in Brownsville, Texas says the ship was disposed of by Horizon in January.
The group Basel Action Network (BAN), which seeks to end trade in toxic materials, said in a press release that Matson had released a statement saying, “Because of concerns with recycling practices in South Asia, Matson has decided to expressly prohibit recycling of its vessels in this region going forward.”
That statement was praised by both BAN and the NGO Shipbreaking Platform in Brussels.
They say the ship is in the Caribbean and is being towed for scrapping in Alang, India, a world center for shipbreaking.
Patrizia Heidegger, Director of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform said “conditions in the shipbreaking yards are not line with international standards for environmentally sound management, occupational health and safety rules, and fundamental labor rights – if Indian shipbreakers want to be part of a global industry providing services to international shipping companies that are more and more conscious of environmental and social issues, they have to live up to these standards.”
BAN said it had “obtained the original Horizon Lines Memorandum of Agreement for the sale of the Horizon Trader, which stipulated that the buyer would responsibly recycle the vessel in the U.S.”
But in an interview with American Shipper, Nikhil Shah, the president of All Star Metals in Brownsville, Texas, said that his company was able to contractually sell the ship and had clearance from both the Maritime Administration and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to do so.
Contractually, Shah said he could not say to whom All Star Metals had sold the ship, but that he assumed the ship would be scrapped in Asia.
“All Star Metals is a U.S. ship recycler. Our business is remediation and ship recycling,” Shah explained He said his company acquired the Horizon Trader not from Matson, but from Horizon Lines in January and remediated the vessel in Brownsville using U.S. workers. Remediation involves removing, for example, toxic material that containers products such asbestos, lead, PCBs and other hazardous materials.
The company performs similar work for the U.S. government and is recycling the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal.