Greenpeace Protests Against "Floating Dustbin" in Rotterdam Harbour

Press release - 4 December, 2002

Greenpeace activists attempt to occupy the single-hulled oil tanker Byzantio'in the port of Rotterdam, The Netherlands today. Greenpeace is highlighting the fact that the vessel is unsafe with its cargo of 50,000 tonnes of oil.

Greenpeace activists today continue to highlight the threat of unsafe transport vessels in the world's oceans. Activists climbed the now infamous 'floating dustbin', the Byzantio, a 26 year old, single hulled vessel transporting over 50,000 tonnes of oil and hung a banner, which read 'oil hazard' onboard. Other activists were set to paint the same words on the hull of the ship.

Today's action comes in the run-up to tomorrow's Transport, Energy and Telecommunications EU Council Ministers' meeting in Brussels. They are expected to announce measures for improving maritime safety to reduce the risk of accidents. On December 12 and 13 the EU Heads of Government will meet and will be discussing the issue of maritime safety.

On December 3rd, the European Commission requested that member states speed up the implementation of safety measures adopted after the Erika oil spill three years ago. But these measures will not be sufficient to prevent another disaster, says Greenpeace. The EU Commission also published a list of 66 vessels that have been classified as "highly dangerous", ironically, neither the disastrous Prestige, nor the Byzantio appear on this list.

"When are politicians going to wake up and realise that tackling this mess goes beyond mere suggestions," said Marietta Harjono of Greenpeace. "Now is the time for European governments to take action and stop these old rust buckets from causing more damage to the oceans. Now is the time for immediate implementation of effective safety measures."

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 and exclude ecologically sensitive areas from shipping routes.

Concurrently, activists in Switzerland have sent a message to Crown Resources, the company that has chartered both the Byzantio and the Prestige: Clean up your mess now! pointing to the fact that as charterers of the Prestige they should be held responsible for the ecological disaster.

On Friday, November 29 Greenpeace began to highlight the imminent passage of the Byzantio through the same route as the ill-fate Prestige that broke off and sank off the coast of Spain earlier last month. Greenpeace activists delayed the Byzantio's departure from Tallinn, Estonia during 5 hours. Two days later, Greenpeace activists in inflatables escorted the Byzantio through the Danish Belts, drawing attention to the dangerous shipment by hanging banners with the word "Hazard" on the hull.

VVPR info: Video available from Greenpeace International, Martin Atkin, Mob: 627000057; photos from John Novis, Mob: +31653819121