Ship recycling is the process of recycling old ships. It is a process that if followed in a safe and systematic manner can prove to be beneficial and if not, then it could be dangerous for both the workers as well as for the environment. However, continuous improvements in this field of ship recycling is paving a path for more sustainable and economical way of recycling the old vessels. Ship recycling involves dismantling the old vessels by reselling various equipment, machinery, furniture on board the ship, by cutting the steel in the ship into smaller pieces that are again resold and finally safely disposing wastes and hazardous materials to authorised governmental agencies. After around 25 to 30 years of a ship's life where it seems difficult for the ship owner to maintain and repair the old ship, they sell it off in order to invest in a new ship or tanker.
Tankers is one of the ship type which if not recycled carefully can pose a higher risk to workers and environment. This is mainly because tankers have been carrying fuels due to which their cargo tanks have dried and patches of oily sludge and sediments on the surfaces which convert to gases during the ship recycling process making it very risky for workers health and could also result in explosion.
We have seen some accidents in the past while recycling of tanker vessels caused by heavy gases in confined space areas of ship where there is lack of adequate ventilation and lack of proper monitoring. These accidents always get into news making a general reader think that recycling all tanker ships is always dangerous. Our readers would be very happy to note that recycling of tanker ships can only be dangerous if laid out procedures are not followed but if the laid out procedures of recycling tankers (which includes regular monitoring of enclosed spaces and confined spaces with meters, proper ventilation arrangements, proper illumination, training of workers, cleaning of entire surface of ship before commencement of recycling etc) is well followed, the tanker vessels do not pose danger while recycling.
The potential solution to address ship recycling problems is to change the way the whole ship recycling process takes place. One of the alternative that now is being actively followed is green ship recycling method where the workers safely recycle the ships on a stable platform and even the ecosystem is not harmed in the process.