EP: Environmental impact of New Flame shipwreck off Gibraltar

Nachfolgend wird eine geringfügig veränderte und gekürzte Pressemitteilung des Europäischen Parlaments dokumentiert.

In a resolution on a recent shipwreck off the coast of Gibraltar, MEPs ask the Commission to check whether the authorities took the right measures to avoid the accident and, if not, to take legal action. They ask for information on the content of the cargo and plans for removing the vessel. They also believe the accident makes the case for tougher EU maritime safety measures.

The shipwreck occurred on 12 August 2007, following a collision near the coast of Gibraltar between a double-hulled oil tanker and the bulk carrier New Flame, which resulted in the sinking of the latter. MEPs note that this kind of accident does not have the same environmental impact as that of tankers but still raises concern: the New Flame is currently lying on the seabed, containing 42,000 tonnes of load and at least 27,000 tonnes of scrap metal, and could thus affect water quality.

Legal action by the European Commission?

Parliament notes that the Government of Gibraltar, the UK and the Spanish authorities have expressed willingness to collaborate in order to manage the accident and its consequences for the maritime and coastal environment.

However, it also calls on the Commission „to verify if the competent authorities complied with their obligations“ under the EC Treaty so as to avoid the disaster, and to adopt, if appropriate, „the necessary legal measures“.

The resolution calls on the Commission to forward to Parliament all information on the case provided by national and regional authorities, especially on the request for anti-pollution vessels to be provided by the Community aid mechanism for civil protection assistance. Parliament also stresses that all the authorities must remain vigilant concerning potential opportunist and illegal emptying of fuel tanks and ballast waters.

More prominent EU role needed in maritime safety

MEPs emphasise the swift response by the European Maritime Safety Agency to a request for assistance from the Spanish authorities, and they stress that Parliament has frequently pushed for more resources for the Agency. They also point to the merits of the third maritime safety package, already approved by the EP but still under first reading in Council. And they call on the Commission to submit further legislation on storing bunker oil in double-hull tanks as well as other measures.

The resolution was adopted by 555 votes to 7, with 6 abstentions.

REF.: 20080418IPR27079