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American Shipper

EU TIGHTENS MARITIME SAFETY, BANS SINGLE-HULL TANKERS

EU TIGHTENS MARITIME SAFETY, BANS SINGLE-HULL TANKERS

   The European Union’s council of transport ministers has adopted measures to tighten maritime safety, including a timetable to ban single-hull tankers in European waters.

   The series of measures, called “Erika 1,” is the first program of policies adopted to avoid a repeat of the “Erika” disaster – the high-profile sinking of an oil tanker off the French Atlantic coast a year ago.

   The policies follow proposals made by the European Parliament and the European Commission earlier this year.

   The council of ministers decided that the EU directive on the inspection of ships by European states will be substantially amended. Sub-standard ships sailing a flag of convenience will be banned and a “black list” of vessels prohibited in the EU will be established.

   Vessels deemed at risk, including tankers more than 15 years old, will undergo a compulsory inspection.

   The EU directive on classification societies will also be changed to centralize and harmonize the regulation of those societies.

   Single-hull tankers will be banned from the EU, with a timetable that will be similar to that of the U.S. Double-hull tankers will be compulsory from 2010 for most tanker categories, and from 2015 for remaining categories.

   The EU council of ministers will negotiate similar international measures with the International Maritime Organization. However, the EU governments are prepared to move unilaterally if they fail to reach an agreement with the IMO.

   The council of ministers is also considering a second series of measures on maritime safety proposed by the European Commission, called “Erika 2.” Those measures would deal with the introduction of a new oil spill compensation fund and related issues.

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