The last piece of Star Gran
On the day four months after Star Gran arrived at the ship recycling yard, Grieg Star received the completion report. Star Gran was no more. But she got a special place in our history. She was the first vessel to be recycled according to the EU Ship Recycling Regulation (EU SRR).
Star Gran arrived at Leyal Ship Recycling Group‘s facility at Aliağa near Izmir in Turkey on the 20th of February 2019. On the days before this, everything had been prepared for her arrival. Pilot and tugs were at the ready. The harbour basin was ready. And the yard got the last necessary documents, including the final specifications and agreement.
On the 20th of February, Star Gran was officially delivered to the yard. To get her ready for recycling, the yard landed the ship. Turkish Customs and the Quarantine Bureau carried out joint inspection of the vessel. Thereafter the shipyard checked the conditions of Star Gran.
A vessel may carry living creatures from other parts of the world. If they wander out into new areas, they may be a problem to the ecosystem. To avoid biological pollution, the Quarantine Bureau carried out a disinfection of Star Gran on the day of arrival. For 24 hours they held the vessel sealed and a no-go zone.
All Grieg Star vessels have an Inventory of Hazardous Material (IHM). Before Star Gran arrived at Aliağa, Grieg Green sent the IHM to the yard. This document was to be the basis for further work. The yard developed a Ship Recycling Plan (SRP) according to the IHM and the schedule at the yard.
The IHM is also the road map for the yard workers when they will start to remove the hazardous materials. One of the first things they do, is to mark the areas on the ship that contains such materials. That way the workers can take the necessary precautions when working in those areas.
Grieg Green has very strict requirements for green ship recycling. Grieg Green supervisors always sit down with the yard to discuss the process and requirements. Thereafter the shipyard implements precautions for safety, occupational health and environment protection.
A part of this is to make sure there are emergency exits and emergency routes from all parts of the vessel and yard. They set up firefighting stations around the area and vessel to make sure they could snuff out any fire in the beginning.
Like all other vessels of this size, there was a lot of sundries onboard Star Gran. There were mattresses, fans, flags and furniture. There were clothes, cleaning utensils and linen. The condition of all those small things varied. But workers removed all of it and brought it ashore. The things in a good condition were sent for resale. The rest ended up in recycling facilities.
Specialists from a local waste handling company come onboard to remove the hazardous materials in a safe way.
Small but deadly
Among the more dangerous materials onboard are asbestos. Asbestos is used to reduce the spreading of fire. But if you inhale the dust from broken asbestos, the tiny fibres may trigger a number of severe respiratory diseases, including cancer. Specialists from the centralized waste handling company of the Turkish recycling industry arrived onboard at an early stage to remove the asbestos and materials containing asbestos in a safe way. They sealed off the area, using special PPE, and packed both the material and the used PPE in approved bags to avoid spreading of air borne fibres. The asbestos was then transported for disposal in a licensed, secure landfill in the Turkish mountains, where it is subject to environmental monitoring for decades to come.
Fuel and the dangers
Even if we tried to have as little fuel left in Star Gran as possible, some was still remaining on board. Fuel leaking into the sea or onto the beach would devastate the local environment, which is regularly monitored, and oil spill prevention equipment is required to stand by in case residues should be released by accident. Fumes from the fuel is also dangerous with regards to explosion and inhalation, and atmosphere onboard must be completely free from such before any safe-for-entry and hot work permits are given.
The workers pumped the oil out of the tanks and into an oil truck for resale or use in energy production at the waste handling facility. Thereafter the tank was ventilated, an inspector checked for gases, and only as the test had an acceptable result, a poster was set up declaring the tank gas free.
In the accommodation area, there is a lot of flammable materials. As with the fuel, it is important to remove this before any hot work in the area. That means removing all wood, insulation and plastics. In the end, Star Gran was stripped from anything that could ignite, as well as anything with a value. It was time for cutting the structure itself.
The ships is cut to pieces slowly and safely. Each piece is lifted off the vessel with huge cranes.
Day after day Star Gran is reduced. Late May, she is all but disappeared.
Slowly eating away
While it may seem like the cutting of the steel of Star Gran had to wait, it actually started one week after landing. At that point the safety situation was as desired. And one of the first things that was removed were the upper parts of the bow.
Over the weeks, the workers slowly cut piece after piece off the vessel. A crane made sure the pieces were held in place until the cutting was done. Then the crane lowered the cuttings down on a truck for transportation to dismantling area number two. There they cut the blocks into smaller pieces fit for transport and for feeding into the steel furnaces for melting and reuse.
As the cutters ate their way along the vessel’s length, Star Gran was pulled further up on the concrete. The cutting activity happened in an area with barriers and drain system designed to collect any pollution for proper treatment.
Wednesday May 29th, just a small piece of steel was all one could see at 1st dismantling area. That was where Star Gran landed three months before. The entry in the survey report from Grieg Green on Thursday 30th of May simply states:
Continued to cut the blocks at 2nd dismantling area. Cleaned the floor at 1st dismantling area. Cleaned and flushed the floor after completing cutting all the blocks at 2nd dismantling area. Completed all the recycling work of Star Gran.
And that is the last entry. Star Gran was no more.
The 20th of June the final report from Grieg Green arrived at the head office of Grieg Star. On the day four months after Star Gran landed in Aliağa
This is what was left of Star Gran Wednesday May 29th. The day after she had disappeared from the 1st dismantling area.