Greenpeace urges EU transport ministers to come clean on toxic tankers

Press release - 21 April, 2005
Greenpeace will present EU transport ministers with a 'message in a bottle' at the entrance to the European Conference Centre building in Luxembourg before the start of the Transport Council meeting on Thursday 21 April (1). The bottle contains rusty remnants of the Greek-owned oil tanker 'Amina' that exploded in 2003 at a shipbreaking yard in India, killing nine workers and causing serious injuries to others (2).

Representatives from Greenpeace meet the Luxembourg Transport minister Mr. Lucien Lux before the start of the EU Transport Council at the Centre des Conférences –FIL- in Luxembourg.

"These chunks of rusty metal symbolise the lives lost and the environmental pollution caused by sending old ships to Asia for scrap without first cleaning them of hazardous substances. It's now two weeks since the global ban on single hull oil tankers came into force (3) but EU transport ministers and the European Commission have still given no guarantee that these toxic ships will be scrapped safely and cleanly," said Marietta Harjono, Greenpeace International toxics campaigner.

According to a Greenpeace analysis (4), over 2,000 single hull tankers will be removed from the water and scrapped within five years. More than 1,000 tankers (of which 334 are either owned by European companies or registered - "flagged" - in Europe) are expected to be scrapped in 2005, a figure that dwarfs previous estimates.

"Unless action is taken, a successful piece of legislation will lead to terrible consequences - the toxic burden of Europe's single hulled tankers will end up on Asian beaches, threatening with a human and environmental catastrophe" said Harjono. 

Other contacts: Marietta Harjono, international shipbreaking campaign coordinator, Greenpeace +31 615 007 411 (in Luxembourg)

VVPR info: Stills available:John Novis Greenpeace International picture desk +31 653 819 121

Notes: (1) Centre de Conférences - FIL - 5, rue Carlo Hemmer, LuxembourgLuxembourg Minister of Transport and Environment Lucien Lux is meeting Greenpeace before the start of the Transport Council at the European conference centre, as an expression of the Luxembourg Presidency's desire to deal with the issue.(2) Alang, India 22 February 2003.(3) On 5 April 2005 the global phase out legislation (MARPOL I 13G) entered into force under the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). Under the United Nations Basel Convention, vessels due to be broken are considered toxic waste and should not be exported from OECD countries to non-OECD countries. (4) The report 'Destination Unknown: European single hull oil tankers... No place to go' to download at This report is based on the EU Commission assessment (COWI/EU). For more information, see