Single hull oil tanker decommissioning - a new environmental disaster for shipbreaking countries

Feature story - December 8, 2004
MUMBAI, India — Today Greenpeace handed over the report called "Destination unknown: European Single hull Oil Tankers-No place to go" to Dr. Kant Singh, Secretary General, The Council of EU Chambers of Commerce in India (in the absence of the head of the delegation of the European commission in India.)

Greenpeace activists handed over the petition to the European Commission against dumping of single hull oil tankers on asian beaches.

Greenpeace, warns of massive environmental contamination of Asian beaches in the coming years as a result of a global phase out of single hull oil tankers. The international environmental organisation is calling upon the European Union, which is responsible for one third of the tankers to be phased out, to take urgent action to protect human health and the environment in shipbreaking countires.

Following the Erika and Prestige accidents the EU (and the world) moved to phase out single hull oil tankers. According to the Greenpeace analysis, over 2000 tankers will be removed from the water and scrapped in the next 5 years. Some 1,120 (representing 55 m DWT) will need to be scrapped over the next 13 months, a figure dwarfing previous estimates. According to the analysis some 334 tankers (representing 16 m DWT) are either owned by European companies or registered and flagged in Europe.

The investigation also reveals a staggering collective cargo onboard the banned ships equal to more than two Prestige oil tanker disaster.

Current ship breaking practices are no more than a scandalous form of the international waste trade. A trade banned under the Basel Convention. The shipping industry promotes and exploits confusion and a lack of regulatory enforcement by the international community; ships flagged or owned by OECD countries are routinely transferred to non-OECD breaking yards, taking a devastating toll on workers and the surrounding environments.

"Dumping of Toxic sinlge hull oil tankers from EU to shipbreaking countries in general and in India in particular are unaccpeted transfer of responsibilities and are illegal. We would like to remind them that India is not a dumping ground of EU, therefore they must stop doing so. We further demand from them that all single hull tankers coming out of EU soil are decontaminated before export and are delivered to shipbreakers with full inventory of toxic materials on board." said Ramapati Kumar of Greenpeace India.

As a major player in the ship breaking explosion, the EU has not only a responsibility but an opportunity to once and for all bring the scandal of the shipping industry practises under control and within the norms of international standards protecting developing countries from industrial nations' unwanted toxic waste.

Greenpeace demands from EU that:

1. EU institutions to take urgent action on EU controlled single hull oil tankers, by enforcing the EU Waste Shipment regulation.

2. The EU institutions to fight the lack of transparency in the shipping and to develop a definitive and consolidated list of single hull oil tankers subject to phase out regulations.

3. Greenpeace demands an immediate commitment from EU transport ministers and EU Commission that the toxic burden of Europe's single hull oil tankers will not end up on Asian beaches.

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For more information:

Ramapati Kumar, Campaigner, Greenpeace India -

Tel - (0) 9845535414 Email -