EU Debates Old Ships V. New Ships

Tuesday, February 29, 2000
The lack of a European Union directive on tanker regulations could hamper the EU in adopting proposed new rules to ban old tankers, ship owners said last week. They also claimed the current proposals did not focus clearly enough on the old vessels most at risk The EU will propose cutting age limits for pre-1982 built tankers to 23 years, from 25 and 30, at a meeting with shipping industry representatives on Wednesday. Single hull vessels built under international marine pollution regulations (MARPOL) between 1982 and 1996 would also be banned from Europe after 28 years, down from a current 30. "There is no EU directive on MARPOL, so I don't know how they can change it," tanker owners organization Intertanko managing director Dagfinn Lunde said. The MARPOL regulations were enacted by the United Nations marine affairs body, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), in 1982 and amended in 1996. "I can't imagine all the member states agreeing to these proposed changes if they take it through the European parliament," Lunde said. Countries such as Greece, where a large number of tanker owners operate older vessels, are thought likely to oppose any draconian legislation. Lunde said Intertanko would ask the EU transport directorate officials to reconsider their plans. "They have to look at what they are trying to solve. MARPOL covers operational pollution issues, it does not address structural failure," he said. The new proposals have been drawn up as a result of anger over the heavy pollution caused to France's Atlantic coastline after the 25-year-old tanker Erika broke up in December.
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