EU will ban single-hull tankers in response to
BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union governments
agreed Thursday to ban single-hull oil tankers carrying heavy fuel
in an attempt to reduce the risk of spills like the one that
befouled the coast of northwest Spain last year.
The ban will take effect by July, if it gains
quick approval from the European Parliament. It will apply to all
boats using EU ports and to vessels flying European flags around the
"This is a spectacular step forward ... which
allows the full ban in EU waters of the most dangerous tankers,"
said EU Transport Commissioner Loyola de Palacio. "
Transport ministers from the 15 EU nations also
agreed on a total ban on single-hulled tankers over 23 years old.
Prohibition of all single-hulled tankers
whatever their age will be phased in by 2010. For the largest ships,
the ban will start in 2005.
The restrictions are similar to those already
adopted by the United States.
The EU will press the 162-nation International
Maritime Organization to make the ban global when it meets July in
European nations moved to introduce tighter
rules after the November sinking of the oil tanker Prestige off
Spain's Atlantic coast. That wreck dumped millions of gallons of
heavy crude oil into the sea, contaminating beaches from Portugal
and to southwest France.
In December, EU governments agreed to ban
single-hulled ships like the Prestige from carrying heavy crude, but
that agreement was not legally binding and application has been
The new agreement, if approved by the European
Parliament, would be binding on the 15 EU nations.
At a request from Greece, an exception will be
made for small tankers, up to 5,000 tons, which are used for
transporting fuel to Greek islands. Their operators will have until
2008 to replace the single-hulled boats.
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