Danish ports in hot water over TBT

Industry association warns of financial crisis as pressure grows for land disposal of harbour sludges

Increasing concern over tributyltin (TBT) and other toxic substances in Denmark's harbours is threatening something of a maritime crisis, according to the Association of Danish Ports (SADH).

In the current issue of Danske Kommuner, the magazine of the local authorities' national organisation, SADH chairman Uffe Steiner Jensen warns that members are facing bills of hundred of millions of kroner to dispose of an estimated million cubic metres of contaminated sludge annually. As awareness of the toxicity of TBT in particular has increased, more local authorities are refusing to permit dumping of the sludge at sea - the traditional method - and are insisting instead on disposal in landfills, which is much more expensive.

A number of ports could face bankruptcy as a result, and some of the smaller ones might have to close, Mr Jensen says. The municipality of Skagen, for example, reckons that current disposal costs of DKr1m (euros 134,000) per 50,000 cubic metres will treble.

In fact, "disposal as landfill can be up to ten times more expensive than dumping at sea", Mr Jensen told Danske Kommuner. "If alternative treatment is required, it can be 25 times more costly than it is today.... Unless reasonable solutions are found, the outlook for Danish ports is bleak."

According to Kjeld Frank Jorgensen of the environmental protection agency (EPA), another reason for the alarm might be that a new environmental "strategy" for ports and harbours is in the pipeline. "We hope to publish it well before the end of the year", he told ENDS Daily today.

Follow Up:
SADH and Danske Kommuner, both tel: +45 33 70 33 70; Danish EPA, tel: +45 32 66 01 00.

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