Ship Breaking Law and Legal Definition

The term ship breaking refers to the final disposal or recycling of ships containing hazardous materials. Ship breaking is an industry involving serious health and environmental hazards. The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (“Basel Convention”) imposes substantive obligations on all the parties to prevent the movement and disposal of such ships. Workers engaged in ship breaking are often exposed to cancer-causing asbestos and PCBs.

In 1997, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) negotiated agreements with the Navy and with the Department of the Navy and the Maritime Administration (MARAD) to allow for the export of ships for scrapping. These agreements required the removal of all liquid PCBs and solid PCBs that are readily removable prior to export. The agreement also stipulated that countries to which the ships may be exported for scrapping should be notified so that they have the opportunity to refuse to accept the ships.