EU to Polluters: Clean Up or Pay Up

Tuesday, February 24, 2004
New EU rules on responsibility for cleaning up the environment came a step closer when Parliament and the Council reached agreement in conciliation last week on the environmental liability directive. EU governments will in future have to ensure either that environmental damage is prevented or that the mess is soon cleaned up again. And in a clear shift towards the "polluter pays" principle, the cost of cleaning up will be borne by the company or other operator that caused the damage. If this is not possible, the relevant authorities may, as a last resort, take the necessary measures themselves to repair the damage.

Rules on environmental liability will be standardized throughout the EU, so companies or other operators will face similar laws in every EU country on their responsibility to prevent environmental damage or to pay for it to be cleaned up. This will prevent firms with environmentally risky activities from "shopping around" or seeking out the weakest environmental legislation in the various EU Member States. This legislation is a response to a series of disasters in recent decades, including the Seveso chemicals factory accident in 1976, the fire at the Sandoz plant in Basle in 1986 and oil spills such as the Amoco Cadiz, the Erika and the Prestige.

One key question is how polluters will pay for damage. Companies could cover themselves against any such costs by taking out insurance or using other forms of financial guarantee. Following pressure from Parliament, when the Commission reviews the legislation in six years' time it will check whether such insurance and guarantees have actually become available at a reasonable cost throughout Europe.

If not, the Commission will, if appropriate, propose legislation setting up a standardized compulsory financial guarantee scheme. Oil pollution is a special problem. An international compensation fund set up in 2003 to pay for oil damage is financed by oil customers rather than shipowners. MEPs are concerned this will reduce shipowners' incentive to act responsibly and they successfully pushed for the Commission to look at ways of shifting more responsibility towards shipowners when it conducts another review after 10 years.

Parliament would have preferred not to allow operators to invoke two international conventions that limit liability for navigation accidents but MEPs did not insist on this point. However, it was agreed that the Commission will review this matter too. Last week's conciliation agreement, concluded via an exchange of letters, still has to be formally approved by Parliament and Council, and this is due to happen in March. The directive will enter into force this year and the national implementing legislation must be in place three years later.

Maritime Reporter August 2014 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Environmental

University of California Not to Divest from Fossil Fuels

The University of California voted on Friday to maintain its investments in fossil fuels, frustrating a student-led effort to divest its portfolio in oil, natural gas and coal.

Chevron To Find Buyers for Hawaiian Refinery

Chevron Corp has hired an investment bank to identify potential buyers of its 54,000 barrel-a-day refinery in Kapolei on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, a company official said.

Vessel Discharge Legislation Awaits Congressional Nod

The American Waterways Operators, a 350-member trade association representing the U.S. tugboat, towboat and barge industry, hailed the House introduction of

Maritime Security

Seagull Maritime Response on Safety, Security

Key areas of concern for seafarer safety and security in both marine and offshore operations have triggered the release of six new and one supplementary titles

Russia: Exxon Still Drilling in its Arctic

ExxonMobil is still drilling in the Russian Arctic, a Russian minister said on Friday, in move that if confirmed will anger Washington after the U.S. administration

USCG Cutter in Oregon Spill Drill

The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Fir, a 225-foot buoy tender homeported in Astoria, Oregon, participated in a Spilled Oil Response System exercise near Blake Island, Washington, Wednesday.

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Standards Navigation Offshore Oil Pipelines Ship Electronics Ship Repair Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.1117 sec (9 req/sec)