IMO warns of "chaos" over EU ship safety plan

Proposed European safety, pollution prevention standards, "detrimental", says global body

All safety and pollution prevention legislation for ships should be agreed at international level, the secretary general of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) said this week. Speaking at a meeting of the body's marine environmental pollution committee (MEPC), William O'Neil said that regional standards stricter than those agreed at global level were "detrimental to international shipping and to the functioning of the IMO itself - and should therefore be avoided".

Mr O'Neil's comments precede expected adoption next week by the European Commission of new proposals for tougher EU rules on ship safety following the Erika oil tanker sinking last December (ENDS Daily 12 January). IMO spokesperson Roger Kohn told ENDS Daily that Mr O'Neil was specifically referring to these plans, which he said could result in "chaos".

Mr Kohn said, however, that it would not be unprecedented for a region to introduce legislation more stringent than IMO rules. The 1990 US oil pollution act, for example, required introduction of double-skinned tankers. The IMO believed that "double-hulled tankers may not be the best solution", Mr Kohn added.

During its session, the MEPC continued work to draft an international legal instrument to phase-out the use of tributyltin (TBT) in ship anti-fouling paints (ENDS Daily 9 July 1999).

Follow Up:
{IMO}, tel: +44 20 77 35 76 11.

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