EU agrees to phase out single-hull oil tankers

Jul 03, 2001 02:00 AM

European Union transport ministers agreed to phase out single hull tankers blamed for a spate of maritime disasters in recent years. The move is meant to strengthen maritime safety by preventing oil spills from tankers that run aground or collide with other vessels on the high seas.
The ban on single-hulled tankers takes effect by 2005, 2010, or 2015, depending on ships' tonnage. The timetable mirrors a calendar for phasing out single-hulled vessels by the United States following the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster.
"This is a very important and radical change to maritime habits. The EU's 15 member states have decided to give a strong boost to protecting European coasts from pollution, " EU Transport Commissioner Loyola de Palacio told. EU ministers, however, failed to agree on setting up a euros 1 bn ($ 845 mm) compensation fund to clean up oil spills, preferring the EU to cooperate with the International Maritime Organization on creating such a fund.

Ministers also passed EU-wide standards to improve monitoring of vessels carrying dangerous goods, giving EU countries the right to veto vessels from leaving port in bad weather if their entry poses a threat to human life or the environment. They also approved mandatory use of "black boxes" to be installed in vessels over 20,000 tons by 2007 and those of at least 3,000 tons by 2008. The boxes, analogous to devices in aircraft, give investigators a clue about what caused a shipwreck.
The EU's search for tougher maritime safety rules followed the sinking of the "Erika" oil tanker in December, 1999, off the Atlantic coast of France. The 25-year-old, single-hulled tanker broke in two, spilling 10,000 tons of crude oil across French beaches.

Source: AP
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