What considerations led to NEPA ‘absolving’ shipyard?
I note with interest the Jamaica Observer reporting that National Environment & Planning Agency (NEPA) has “absolved” the shipyard of the recent huge fish kill.
There are things to understand about the potential hazards of shipyard work.
1) Floating dry docks partially submerge to allow the ship to be towed into it then pump out the water in its tanks to lift the ship out of the water.
After arriving here for the first time, the one in the harbour probably transited here with some ballast water in its tanks. Good environmental practice would suggest that this water be free of organisms from where it took on this water. This might be a waste of time because lots of other ships coming into the harbour pump out all sorts of water into the harbour, unless the authorities have been strictly enforcing measures to prevent this from happening. The agents used to kill the organisms (including immature fish) in the ballast water could also be problematic.
2) Dry docks remove old paint on the hulls of ships and re-paint them. The paint is most likely removed in a process called wet blasting, where an abrasive is sprayed in a jet of water against the paint to remove it. Wet blasting prevents huge clouds of paint dust from being blown away from the dry dock, but the many tons of old paint particles, abrasive grit, and water used (and it must be determined each time what kind of paint was last applied to the hull) with its anti-corrosion and anti-fouling agents (to kill or deter barnacles) must be treated as hazardous waste and carefully de-watered and disposed of, and not discharged into the surrounding sea.
Spraying on the new paint with its load of similar agents will also cause a significant amount of it to not end up on the ship’s hull. Look at the “spray man” spraying a car. Notice how many complaints of paint on nearby cars there are? Care must be taken for this by-spray to be collected and not allowed to enter the sea.
3) Wastes that arise from ship repair include in fairly large quantities, lubricating oils, greases, fuel oil, solvents, sewage from on-board sewage tanks (if applicable), painted rusting scrap steel, welding waste, etc. (Also to be treated as hazardous waste.)
I wonder if NEPA was properly monitoring the dry dock operations and has taken all of these into consideration in their absolving of the German shipyard?