Officials want single-hull oil tankers banned from Baltic Sea

Jan 27, 2003 01:00 AM

Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian government officials have recommended banning single-hulled oil tankers from the Baltic Sea and agreed to seek adoption of the ban from neighbouring coastal countries.
"The Baltic Sea is more sensitive to pollution than other neighbouring seas," said Emilis Gustainis, a deputy minister at Lithuania's Ministry of Environment. "We will act together to get other Baltic countries, and in particular Russia, involved the process."

The European Commission intends to retire single-hulled tankers more than 23 years old and bar them from transporting heavy fuel to European ports by 2015. The initiative follows the sinking of the tanker Prestige off Spain last November, which polluted hundreds of miles of Europe's Atlantic coastline.
The Prestige was en route to Singapore from St Petersburg, Crown Resource, the owner of the fuel shipped by the Prestige, has said. The Prestige carried twice the oil spilled in the 1989 Exxon Valdez grounding in Alaska. It was one of more than 300 tankers, or 20 % of the global fleet, able to load 50,000 tons or more, set for demolition by the end of 2006 because of old age.

The Russian government hasn't made any statements on use of single-hull tankers since the Prestige sunk. Transportation Ministry spokesman Andrei Garmay and Energy Ministry spokesman Alexei Turbin couldn't immediately comment. A regional conference that will discuss the ban is scheduled for June.
Lithuania also plans to discuss the issue with the Finnish environment minister during his visit to Vilnius. The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, or HELCOM, is scheduled to meet June 23-27 in Bremen, Germany.

Countries bordering the Baltic Sea are Poland, Finland, Sweden, Germany and Denmark as well as Russia, and the three Baltic states. Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were invited last month to join the European Union next year.
Sweden, Germany and Denmark are members of the 15-nation bloc.

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