Oil tanker phase out threatens Asian workers and environment

Press release - 4 April, 2005
4 April, 2005 Amsterdam - A worldwide ban on single hulled oil tankers that enters into force tomorrow (1) threatens to dump thousands of toxic ships on Asian and Turkish beaches. Workers in India, China and Turkey break up European vessels in appalling conditions with no protection from explosions, asbestos and a cocktail of toxic chemicals contained in the ships. While the phase-out of single hulled tankers has been welcomed by the international environmental organisation, Greenpeace is warning that the EU has failed to ensure the phase-out also includes environmentally and socially responsible procedures for breaking the vessels.

The EU and the International Maritime Organisation moved to phase outsingle-hull oil tankers in the wake of the Erika and the Prestigedisasters. According to a Greenpeace analysis, (2) over 2,000 suchtankers will be removed from the water and scrapped within five years.More than thousand tankers are expected to be scrapped in 2005, afigure that dwarfs previous estimates. According to the analysis, some334 tankers are either owned by European companies or registered -"flagged" - in Europe.

"The European Union successfully achieved the global acceleratedphasing out of single hull oil tankers but did not provide measures forensuring the safe and clean breaking of these ships. The EU now needsto ensure proper follow up, so that the problem is not simply exportedto vulnerable workers in developing world shipbreaking yards" - saidMarietta Harjono, campaigner of Greenpeace. (3)

Under the United Nations Basel Convention, vessels due to be broken areconsidered toxic waste and should not be exported from OECD countriesto non-OECD countries. Greenpeace urges EU institutions to take urgentaction on EU controlled single-hull oil tankers, by enforcing the EUWaste Shipment Regulation and to fight the lack of transparency inshipping and to develop a definitive and consolidated list ofsingle-hull oil tankers subject to phase-out regulations. Theorganisation also demands an immediate commitment from EU transportministers and the European Commission that the toxic burden of Europe'ssingle-hull oil tankers will not end up on Asian beaches.

Greenpeace is currently carrying out a shipbreaking "toxic patrol" on the Mediterranean Sea.

Other contacts: Marietta Harjono, international shipbreaking campaign coordinator, Greenpeace +31 615 007 411Erdem Vardar, campaigner, Greenpeace Mediterranean +34 628 708538

VVPR info: Stills and video available.John Novis Greenpeace International picture desk +31 653 819 121Maarten Van Rouverooy Greenpeace International video desk +31 646 197 322

Notes: (1) On the 5th of April the by the global phase out legislation (MARPOL I 13G) enters into force.(2)The report 'Destination Unknown: European single hull oil tankers... No place to go' to download at http://www.greenpeaceweb.org/shipbreak/destination.pdf This report is based on the EU Commission assessment (COWI/EU) report on the matter. For more information please see the Greenpeace shipbreaking website on http://www.greenpeaceweb.org/shipbreak/(3)Besides increased pressure on existing shipbreaking yards, more beaches will be turned into toxic ship's graveyards. For a current example (Kakinada, India) please see www.shipbreakingweb.org/shipbreak