EC acts to improve oil tanker safety

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Indy Politics
STIRRED to action by the Shetland oil disaster, the European Community yesterday took the first step to tightening rules regulating the safety of ships at sea.

The commission said it would present its proposals, which build on work done by the European Parliament, to an emergency meeting of EC environment ministers on Monday. The parliament welcomed the move as the first time the EC has shown itself prepared to work on a comprehensive approach to safety at sea.

The importance of the issue was underlined by another accident yesterday. The 255,000-tonne Maersk Navigator collided with an empty tanker off the Indonesian island of Sumatra and began to leak 2 million barrels of crude.

The parliament in Strasbourg voted a resolution which called for a European register for shipping, the banning of oil tankers more than 15 years old from using EC ports, setting a date for banning tankers that do not have a double hull, making pilots obligatory when routes pass near the coast, introducing radar vessels and establishing a single-language procedure for emergencies.

Manuel Marin, the commissioner responsible for fisheries, said the package would draw heavily on the parliament's suggestions. The parliament also recommended that the commission, which has already awarded the Shetland Islands emergency aid, and the UK Government should finalise a disaster package. It said this should provide for the underwriting in full of compensation payments pending settlement of insurance claims; cover compensation claims not eventually met by insurance companies; and provide help for the fishing industry.

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