Maritime body backs new tanker rule

Dec 04, 2003 01:00 AM

Plans to speed up the withdrawal of single-hull oil tankers have received the backing of a maritime watchdog. Proposals from the EU include speeding up the timetable for the withdrawal of such tankers and increasing checks on the state of the vessels.
The EU acted following the Prestige oil spill in November 2002. The 26-year-old tanker broke up off Spain's Galician coast with 77,000 tons of fuel oil on board and caused widespread environmental damage.

The World Wildlife Fund warned the spill could damage fishing, tourism and natural habitats for the next decade, at a cost of EUR 5 bn ($ 6.05 bn). Now the EU plans have received the support of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). A year after the Prestige catastrophe, Spain said it would be prepared to deploy its navy to stop ageing, single-hulled tankers from entering its waters.
An oil firm from the US has chartered the Russian-flagged Geroi Sevastopolya to carry heavy fuel oil to Singapore, passing around Spain's coast in December. But the ship will not be permitted within the country's 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), Spanish authorities have said. Under a UN convention all ships have rights of passage through the EEZ but this would not be the first time Madrid has acted to avoid another Prestige-like disaster.

Earlier this year the Spanish and French navies prevented tankers they deemed too risky from entering their respective economic zones.
Spain said it had alerted the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the European Commission and authorities from other countries along the Sevastopolya's impending journey.

Source: BBC News
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