Prestige leaking, but activists protesting another rustbucket are stopped

Feature story - 6 December, 2002
The first images of the sunken oil tanker off Spain are out. Black oil is oozing out of the Prestige contrary to the Spanish government's assurance that it would freeze up and solidify at the bottom of the ocean. If it continues the Prestige could coat Spanish beaches for years to come.

Greenpeace activists halt movement, by climbing up the mooring ropes of the single-hulled oil tanker Byzantioin the port of Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Yet activists attempting to stop a similar ageing oil tanker in Rotterdam have been removed by court order.

The activists chained themselves to the mooring lines of the oil tanker Byzantio for 28 hours in Rotterdam harbour. But a Netherlands judge ordered the activists to cease for face a penalty of 250,000 Euros per day. According to the judge hearing the case, the Byzantio complies with all maritime regulations and in his opinion, it is "highly unlikely the ship will sink."

There is definitely something wrong with a system that allows substandard ships to sail, the same system that allowed the Prestige to sail. It is one clear example of why the system needs to change and new, stricter regulations need to be adopted. These types of vessels should not be sailing the world's oceans.

In the afternoon, the Greenpeace activists painted the message "EU Act Now" on the hull of the Byzantio to communicate to the EU Transportation, Telecommunication and Energy Ministers meeting in Brussels Friday who will be discussing maritime safety, among other issues.

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. Additionally, we believe that the EU must immediately ban the use of single hulled tankers and exclude ecologically sensitive areas from shipping routes.

Our oceans must not endure another Prestige.

The 26 year-old Byzantio, like the Prestige, is a single hulled vessel sailing under the Maltese flag. It has been chartered by Crown Resources - the same Russian company that chartered the Prestige.

At one point during the day's events, Greenpeace representatives held talks with Aegean Shipping Company - the operator of the Byzantio - asking them to make a blueprint for an unlimited liability formula for the Byzantio, but the proposal was turned down when the company went to court.

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.

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