Activists bring oil disaster to European ministers

Feature story - 6 December, 2002
Over 35 Greenpeace activists reenacted an oil disaster at the doorstep of the European Union headquarters as European ministers are meeting to discuss maritime safety. Volunteers dressed in bird costumes with black 'oil' stains carried signs and banners reading: ACT NOW. Oil ran down the flags of EU member states activists carried. Five barrels of oil waste and residue brought from the Prestige oil disaster were unloaded in front of the building.

Greenpeace activists dress in bird costums with black oil stains to simulate an oil disaster at the door of the EU Headquarters where European Ministers of Transport Telecommunication and Energy are meeting to discuss maritime safety.

The ministers must see the results of their inaction.

The EU must immediately ban the use of single hulled tankers carrying hazardous cargo and exclude ecologically sensitive marine areas from shipping routes to prevent such a disaster from happening again.

We want full and unlimited liability throughout the chain of responsibilities, including the owners, managers and operators of a vessel and of any charterers or owners of the cargo.

We believe the European Union is once again responding in crisis mode to an environmental disaster caused by a shipping accident involving thousands of tonnes of oil. Rules that were adopted-even if they are fully implemented-following the Erika disaster are patently inadequate to prevent yet another accident.

The reality is that oil from the Prestige is washing up in increasing amounts on the shores of Spain, damaging the marine environment and destroying livelihoods of many who depend on the sea for their living. Recent images of the sunken tanker reveal that oil continues to ooze out of the broken ship. If it continues, oil may coat the northern coast of Spain for years to come.

The system as it stands now needs to be changed. It's time decision makers took a good hard look at the environment and put it ahead of the demands of the shipping industry. What we need today are effective mechanisms that are implemented and enforced. The measures in place or being proposed now are simply not enough to prevent another disaster like the Prestige.

Measures currently being proposed by the commission are not enough. The proposal to prohibit the use of single-hull tankers for heavy fuel needs to go further and should include all hazardous cargoes. Although the need to protect the coasts and coastal waters is recognised, no concrete actions and no timetable to develop and implement these measures are being proposed.

It's time to put the world's oceans and the people who depend on the marine environment for their livelihood ahead of all other considerations. There is no turning back the clock on all of the destruction.

Help us by taking action now to support this action. Demand that the European Union tighten up the loopholes and flag of convenience laws that allow deadly cargoes to sail past our fragile coasts legally. Demand an end to the tragedy of oil spills.

Join the discussion of the spill in Spain.

Take action online!

Send a protest message to Crown Oil and demand that the EU tighten up regulations on old, dangerous oil tankers. Click here to keep other ships in port.

Help us by making an urgent donation to our efforts to stop oil spills and move the world toward clean, renewable energy.