The TK Bremen Situation

9 Jan 2012

A Demolition Derby

The demolition of the TK Bremen on French territory is a spectacular example of the administrative simplification so dear to the government. The dumping of this industrial waste amounting to 2,000 tons is containing asbestos in several forms, polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB), hydrocarbon traces, lead paint, mercury and tin are not submitted to French and European control’s temporary authorization for a Classified Facility for the Protection of the Environment. The guidelines of the Bale Convention and the International Maritime Organization on the dismantlement of ships are not being respected. Robin des Bois requests that the prefect of Morbihan, the maritime prefecture, and the labor inspectors publish the map of dangerous waste present on the TK Bremen, if it exists.

Non-extraction in certain areas of the ship, such as the bridge and accommodations will produce waste from walls, floor coverings, seals, glue, toilets, wiring and other electrical equipment junk without being sorted at the source. In so handling this polluted junk, the steel industry that will recycle the TK Bremen is will expose its workers to supplemental risks and augmented the burden of its atmospheric emissions.

Rapidity and brutality are always spectacular, but they are not the best allies of worker’s security and the protection of the environment. The so-called emergency plan highlighted by State services calling to demolish the TK Bremen as fast as possible to avoid the breaking up of the hull from the crashing of the waves is a false pretext. For decades, ships of the same size as the TK Bremen beached on, for example, the coast of Mauritania, and held out. The Minister of Ecology intended in the days that followed the beaching to respect the standard regulations, but the battering of elected representatives wanting to get rid of this encumbering problem as fast as possible, and election deadlines, were deciding factors in the change of plans.

Robin des Bois brought a complaint against X for hydrocarbon pollution and putting the lives of others in danger. Moral or private people susceptible to this complaint are:

-The port of Lorient that has not applied article R 304-11 of the Code of Maritime Ports according to which the Port Authority can stop the departure of a ship on a case by case basis, in which they would have been justified all the more so because the TK Bremen had had a bad profile.

-The pilotage service of the port of Lorient that did not alert the competent authorities and notably the centers of maritime security of apparent and adjustable anomalies from the moment of departure on board from the TK Bremen, such as the absence of water tightness of the back panels of the ship’s hold.

-The co-signer of the TK Bremen who had the responsibility to furnish to the ship and to the owner of the ship all the documents and all the information relative to its safe sailing during the layover and at the moment of departure.

-The captain of the TK Bremen who did not take into consideration the warnings from professionals on the imminent arrival of hurricane Joachim and who did not use the prudence necessary before the departure and during the shifting of the ship’s course in the afternoon and the night of December 15, 2011.

-The ship owner who did not give news and decisive orders – as proscribed by International Safety Management (ISM) – aimed at halting the situation as soon as the difficulties of the TK Bremen began.

-The Regional Operational Centers for Monitoring and Rescues (CROSS) who did not give alerts while events unfolded and got worse before their eyes.

The accumulation and the synergy of negligence, omissions and mistakes led to increased danger to the crew, pollution of the sea, the triggering of the Polmar plan, the contamination of oyster farms in the Ria d’Etel, beach pollution, and the degradation of a collection of dunes, significant for their biodiversity and assemblage of rare life.

Parallel to the complaint submitted, Robin des Bois demands the maritime prefect of the Altantic and the president of the Regional Council of Brittany to reenforce, as fast as possible, the regulations particular to the Lorient Port Authority that they signed November 18, 2011. In effect, article 8 of this regulation (which completes article R 304-11 of the Code of Maritime Ports) concerns only the ships transporting hydrocarbons or dangerous materials in bulk and bar them from leaving when the winds surpass 33 knots (60 km/h); it must be expanded to other ships, taking into account their immediate destination and imminent weather forecasts.


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