Sunday, December 20, 2009

What? Were they thinking?

It was business as usual at the CNMI Senate Thursday, with passage of a resolution 'supporting' a proposal to salvage ships. Wouldn't you think their time would be better spent in researching Worldwide Salvage and state and federal laws on shipbreaking?

It's a dirty, nasty, dangerous job. Just for starters, here's an Occupational Health and Safety Administration Fact Sheet. Asbestos, PCB's, lead: that's just the sort of imports we need.

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration (MARAD) has only approved six shipyards for disposal of obsolete ships. Four are in Brownsville, Texas; there are none on the West Coast.

There is a reason for that. MARAD characterizes ship scrapping as a risky, highly speculative business, and says startup companies tend to be thinly capitalized. estimates that environmental health and safety requirements constitute as much as two-thirds of the cost of ship scrapping.

Shipbreaking is an international scandal, with the most toxic ships ending up in the Third World. Do a quick internet search and you'll find hundreds of references to the shipbreaking beaches of Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.

Deep breath

Maybe this is a grand idea. How about checking the financial capacity of Worldwide Salvage to make sure we don't end up with a hulk rusting in the harbor? How about getting details of their plan, including typhoon preparations, before 'conditionally approving' it?

By contrast, the Commonwealth Ports Authority had a measured, reasonable response to the proposal. Maybe the Senate could let CPA do its job. They'd have more time to do theirs.

Back in the day, I used to regularly visit a CNMI Senate staffer for the inside skinny on budget bills. But that wasn't his most important job, judging by what occupied his time. He was an ace resolution writer.


Saipan Writer said...

You should send this to the newspapers.

SteeleOnSaipan said...

Interesting info and SW is right, you should send this to the papers.

KAP said...

It loses a lot without the links, especially the OSHA fact sheet. I'm more interested in talking to Juan Tenorio.