"Little Mermaid" warns of future OIL disasters if the EU doesn't heed the call for caution

Press release - 11 December, 2002

Greenpeace activists display, at the site of the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen, a banner reading Oil Hazard EU Clean up your act, referring to the infamous Prestige oil tanker disaster in Spain.

Greenpeace today sent an urgent message to EU leaders who will meet tomorrow in Copenhagen asking them to address the issue of maritime transport and the health and environment of the world's oceans. Activists standing in front of the "Little Mermaid", symbol for this city, displayed a banner that read, "Oil Hazard: EU Clean up your act!" referring to the now infamous Prestige oil tanker accident in Spain.

Greenpeace has been highlighting the current unacceptable maritime transport practices in Europe that have led to, among others, the most recent disaster of the Prestige off the coast of Spain. In a recent meeting of the EU Ministers of Transportation, Telecommunications and Energy in Brussels, ministers decided on a total ban on single hulled vessels transporting heavy fuel from its ports, but it is up to each EU member state to decide when the ban takes effect.

Greenpeace has been demanding stronger measures that include 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 all hazardous cargo and exclude ecologically sensitive marine areas from shipping routes. These issues were dealt with inadequately by EU transport ministers, leaving the marine environment and coastal regions of Europe completely vulnerable to another disaster.

"According to Greenpeace, the EU Summit, which begins tomorrow, must address these concerns. "Not enough attention has been given to environmental issues in the discussion of EU expansion," said Pascal Husting of Greenpeace. "Economic aims cannot be the dominant basis for expansion. As it stands now, its apparent that the environment isn't being dealt with satisfactory."