Hazardous ships continue to travel through world's oceans

Press release - 1 December, 2002

Greenpeace action against the single-hulled oil tanker 'Byzantio' on its way from Tallin with its cargo of 50,000 tonnes of oil. Greenpeace inflatables attemp to stop and enter the ship displayinga banner reading HAZARD

Greenpeace activists went out to meet the oil tanker Byzantio as it passed the straits between Denmark and Germany. Fourteen activists on board 3 Inflatables sailed alongside the vessel and displayed banners that read "Hazard" to highlight again that vessels of this type are threatening the health and environment of the world's oceans. Some banners have been attached to the hull of the ship.

The Byzantio is a Maltese flagged ship that is transporting oil for the same Russian-owned company "Crown Resources" that owned the oil on the disastrous Prestige that broke off and sank off the northwest coast of Spain on November 19. Like the Prestige, the Byzantio is a 26-year-old single hull vessel carrying 50,000 tonnes of the same oil.

"It is inconceivable that with the scars of the Prestige still raw in people's memory, the Byzantio is being allowed to navigate," said Pernilla Svenberg of Greenpeace. "This is like laughing in the face of danger. European governments must make tougher legislation for all transport vessels through European waters."

On Friday, Greenpeace activists in Estonia successfully delayed the departure of the Byzantio by placing and inflatables in the Tallinn harbour and climbers on the ship's mooring lines. Thirteen activists were arrested and later released.

European ministers responsible for transportation, energy and telecommunications are scheduled to meet in Brussels on December 5 and 6 and maritime safety and environmental issues are expected to be high on the agenda. Denmark, the current seat of the EU Presidency, is expected to present several initiatives to tackle the issue of dangerous shipments.

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 implement an urgent phase-out of sub-standard vessels, especially old single-hull tankers and exclusion of ecologically sensitive areas from shipping routes.