Mongstad, Norway – Four activists from Greenpeace Nordic have taken peaceful action against a tanker carrying toxic waste from the Norwegian oil industry to be discharged in Denmark. The activists have used divers and magnets underwater to attach a small sailboat to the hull of the tanker Bothnia transporting up to 9,000 tonnes of toxic wastewater from Norwegian oil giant Equinor’s refinery at Mongstad. Leading Norwegian legal experts state that the export is a violation of the Basel Convention, a treaty regulating the export of hazardous waste.

“We demand that Equinor immediately halts its illegal export of toxic waste to Denmark. For too long, Equinor has avoided taking responsibility for its waste and instead passed the problem onto our neighbours in Denmark to deal with. This has to stop”, said Tale Hammerø Ellingvåg, campaigner at Greenpeace Nordic.

The peaceful action is a protest against the Norwegian oil industry’s export of toxic wastewater to Denmark, a practice that has been going on for more than twenty-five years, polluting Danish waters. Norway’s state-owned oil company Equinor is one of the main companies involved in the export. As much as 150,000 tonnes of toxic water is believed to be exported to Denmark each year, where it is treated before being released into Danish waters. The current treatment is unable to remove harmful toxic and carcinogenic chemicals such as PFOS and PAHs from the water, and local people have reported a dramatic decline in fish populations in the areas where the wastewater is discharged. 

The so-called “produced water” is a byproduct of oil production, which is brought to the surface when the oil is extracted. Even after being separated and treated, the water still contains low concentrations of oil and toxic chemicals that can be harmful to humans and nature. 

The Greenpeace activists held up banners with the message  “Equinor = toxic”, and painted “EQUITOX” on the side of the tanker. 

“Equinor’s illegal export of toxic water is yet another example of the fossil fuel industry’s countless historic and ongoing unlawful activities. The fossil fuel industry has to be held accountable for the harmful consequences its oil production is causing to people and the planet. Stopping Equinor’s illegal export of toxic water in Denmark is an important step in this direction”, said Tale Hammerø Ellingvåg.

Cinta Hondsmark from Greenpeace Nordic is onboard the sailboat Tanker Tracker: 

“I’m taking action today to send a clear message to Equinor that its illegal transport of toxic oil water to our neighbouring country Denmark will no longer be accepted. Equinor is killing our oceans and it has to stop. Our demand is simple: Equinor must immediately stop the export and clean up its own mess”, said Cinta Hondsmerk, activist from Norway


Photo and video for press found via the Greenpeace Media Library


Oda Grønbekk, Communications Officer, Greenpeace Norway: +47 92 42 12 15, [email protected]

Tale Ellingvåg, spokesperson, Greenpeace Norway: +47 924 40 683

Greenpeace International Press Desk: [email protected], +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24/7).

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Additional background:

  • In 2020, Denmark rejected Equinor’s application to continue exporting toxic wastewater to Denmark. However, Equinor found a loophole and kept exporting the waste via the Danish company RGS Nordic. RGS took over Equinor’s export and has admitted to the Norwegian broadcaster NRK that the emissions affect the ecosystems of Agersø Sound, and that it is unable to comply with all the environmental quality requirements in place. 
  • A report from Aarhus University concluded that 80 percent of the samples gathered at the emission site between 2005 and 2020 contained excessive concentrations of the chemical substance PFOS, a so-called forever chemical. The report also concludes that the concentration of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, or PAHs, is so high that immediate and lasting damage has been inflicted on the marine environment. Certain PAHs can cause damage to DNA and be carcinogenic.