Greenpeace brings oil disaster to EU Headquarters

Press release - 6 December, 2002

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.

Over 35 Greenpeace activists today simulated an oil disaster at the door of the EU Headquarters as European Ministers of Transport, Telecommunications and Energy were meeting to discuss maritime safety. Volunteers dress in bird costumes with black oil stains carried signs and banners that read: ACT NOW.

Oil ran down the flags of EU Member States that were displayed by the activists. Five barrels of oil waste and residue brought from the Prestige oil disaster were discharged in front of the building.

Greenpeace is demanding 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, Greenpeace is demanding that the EU immediately ban the use of single hulled tankers carrying hazardous cargo and exclude ecologically sensitive marine areas from shipping routes.

Greenpeace believes that 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. The rules which were adopted even if fully implemented following the Erika disaster were patently inadequate to prevent yet another accident. The reality today is

that the 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.

The system as it stands now needs to be changed, said Simon Carroll of Greenpeace. 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.

Greenpeace criticises some of the measures proposed by the Commission (1). The proposal to prohibit the use of single-hull tankers for heavy fuel should go beyond that to 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, added Carroll. There is no turning back the clock on all of the destruction.

VVPR info: Footage and stills available:John Novis, Greenpeace Picture Editor, ++31 6 53 81 91 21Lucy Clayton, Greenpeace Video Producer, ++ 31 6 53 50 47 21

Notes: 1. Full critique of proposed measures available upon request. Activists participating in today s activities are from Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, and Spain.