The Department of Defense released its recommendations and findings today following a 60-day interagency review of the Department of the Navy and U.S. Maritime Administration programs to scrap vessels.
The panel's report builds on the current process for scrapping ships to ensure that vessels are scrapped in an economically feasible and environmentally sound manner.
Panel recommendations include:
Requiring contractors to submit a safety and occupational health plan in their invitation to bid on a contract.
This is in addition to financial, business and environmental compliance plans now required by the Department.
- Requiring federal, state and local regulatory agencies develop protocols to share information about potential contractors and their facilities.
- Requiring contractual improvements that will be applied domestically and internationally.
- Requiring performance bonds, as an incentive to the contractor to perform the contract.
As changes are made, federal officials will work with the domestic industry to help them understand and comply with these changes.
Evaluating how federal agencies can provide meaningful technical assistance to interested importing countries.
This includes everything from information exchanges to direct technical assistance.
A key issue for further exploration, however, is whether current statutory authorities and funding are adequate to provide this assistance.
Continuing to accept bids from scrappers in both the domestic and international markets within the context of the new safeguards.
The U.S. Navy and Maritime Administration ships are a small part (1 million of 68 million light tons) of the total ship scrapping market worldwide.
In fact, most scrapping on a worldwide basis occurs in international markets, and developing nations depend on scrap metal as their only source of steel, which is essential to their economic development.
In summarizing the results of the report, panel Chair Patricia A. Rivers said: "Our efforts were designed to ensure that the processes in place and any future actions will protect workers and the environment.
This report is one step in a long process that the interagency team has undertaken to improve the ship scrapping programs."
The agencies will now take the next few weeks to analyze the report and begin deciding how to move forward.
The panel or a similar group will also reconvene in a year to evaluate progress.
Panel representation included senior environmental, safety and occupational health experts from several cabinet level agencies including Defense, State, Justice, Labor and Transportation.
Also represented were the Department of the Navy, Defense Logistics Agency, Maritime Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Coast Guard.
As part of the process of analyzing this complex issue under a tight deadline, the panel sought public input.
By holding a well attended public meeting on short notice and through use of the Internet the panel received a wide range of views and comments.
The panel's report is available on the Internet at http://www.denix.osd.mil.
The Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Environmental Security will continue to post information on this website, and members of the public can continue to provide comments about the ship scrapping program.