Greenpeace demands action on oil spills

Only 10% of oil pollution accidental claims NGO; liability, safety, "must be stepped up"

Urgent measures must be taken at national, European and global level to reduce all environmental oil pollution, of which only 10% is caused by high profile accidents such as the recent sinking of the Erika (ENDS Daily 7 January), Greenpeace said today.

In a statement to the European Commission, the NGO is calling for changes to EU legislation to make oil companies fully liable for environmental damage caused through the whole oil supply chain starting with extraction, through transport and final use. On maritime safety, the group says the European Commission must act immediately to tighten up on port inspections, classification societies, flags of convenience and hull standards.

Bruno Rebelle of Greenpeace France said that Europe's coastline would still be at risk daily without these measures in place. Mr Rebelle said: "A comprehensive list of mandatory areas to be avoided by shipping must be drawn up. Such a list should include environmentally sensitive areas such as the Brittany coast".

In the wake of the Erika spill, EU transport commissioner Loyola de Palacio has already announced plans for a comprehensive inquiry to address the questions of liability, safety and flags of convenience (ENDS Daily 12 January)

* Meanwhile, the European Commission, the UK, France, Spain and Singapore today signed a memorandum of understanding on creating an international database on ship safety. The International Maritime Organisation (IMO), which is coordinating the "Equasis" initiative said in a statement that the internet information system should overcome "the lack of sufficient transparency of information relating to quality of ships and their operators" which was one of the "impediments to a genuine quality culture in shipping".

Follow Up:
Greenpeace EU Unit, tel: +32 2 280 14 00. IMO, tel: 44 02 07 15 87 32 74.

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