The European Union's (EU) executive body on Tuesday proposed tightening EU shipping laws to prevent a repetition of the environmental disaster caused by the breakup of the tanker Erika off the French coast.
The European Commission approved far-reaching proposals by EU Transport Commissioner Loyola de Palacio for stricter checks on ships visiting EU ports and for oil tankers with a single-skinned hull to be banned from EU waters. The Commission urged the shipping industry, the EU's 15 member states and the European Parliament - which must endorse the proposals - to accept the reforms. Before the proposals become law, the Commission urged oil companies
to agree voluntarily not to charter tankers more than 15 years old, unless they were in good condition.
The proposals were prompted by anger over the heavy pollution caused to France's Atlantic coastline after the 25-year-old single-hulled tanker Erika broke up in December.
The Maltese-flagged vessel released 10,000 tons of heavy oil into the sea, polluting 400 km (250 miles) of coast and seriously damaging the environment, fishing and tourism.