Asbestos alert

Monday, August 27, 2001
A strange little story is emerging from the Netherlands which could have repercussions for every port authority subject to EU jurisdiction. The Inspectorate for the Environment has recently ordered an asbestos-disposal firm to clear large amounts of asbestos from a Mexican-flag vessel in a Dutch port. It is reported that the crew of the vessel had been ordered by the master to dispose of 26 tons of asbestos-bearing material lying on the ship's deck. A criminal investigation is said to be in the offing. Elsewhere in the Netherlands, meanwhile, a vessel is currently the subject of an official constraint order, under authority granted by environmental legislation. The vessel was apparently detained after a tip-off from Greenpeace that it was on its way to India to be scrapped. Nothing illegal about that but, under EU Regulation 259/93, "the trans-frontier shipment of waste materials" is prohibited. The vessel under detention reportedly has a significant asbestos content throughout its structure, and lawyers acting for the owner are now trying to satisfy the EU either that the ship will not be scrapped in India or that the ship WILL be scrapped in India in an environmentally proper and safe manner. It is not clear how they will manage this.

Excerpted from Maritime Advocate Online, sponsored by Barcelona lawyer Ignacio de Ros, a specialist in ship arrest, and is distributed free by email to maritime professionals throughout the world. Ignacio Ros can be contacted at:

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