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Friday, 6 December, 2002, 21:02 GMT
EU to ban single-hull tankers
Team clears oil from Spanish coast
Ministers hope to prevent a repeat disaster
European Union (EU) transport ministers have agreed to ban single-hull tankers carrying heavy fuel from EU ports.

In an attempt to prevent a repeat of the recent sinking of the Prestige oil tanker off the Spanish coast, ministers also agreed on a blanket ban on all such vessels from 2010.

Officials said they would insist on a similar ban from countries seeking EU membership, and from Russia, a major oil exporter.

Pressure for change has been building since the Prestige disaster last month.

The French president, Jacques Chirac, called single-hulled tankers "floating dustbins" and the European parliament had demanded action.

Ban brought forward

Under the new rules, single-hulled tankers carrying fuel oils, such as heavy fuel, tar, bitumen and heavy crude oil, will be banned with immediate effect, officials said.

Prestige tanker breaking up
The Prestige leaked thousands of tons of oil

Minster also brought forward the total ban on single-hulled vessels by five years.

In addition, any vessels over 23 years of age must be immediately taken out of service.

The BBC's Europe correspondent Chris Morris says safety of oil tankers is a big issue for the EU because some 90 per cent of its oil supplies arrive by sea.

Officials in Brussels are confident, though, that the ban on single-hulled vessels will not mean oil is suddenly in short supply.

The European Transport Commissioner, Loyola de Palacio, said it was simply time to get rid of these ecological bombs.

Since the Bahamas-registered Prestige broke up and sank last month, much of its oil cargo has leaked, damaging Spanish fishing grounds and threatening the coasts of France and Portugal.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Kirsty Lang
"Single-hulled vessels make up nearly 60% of the world's major tanker fleet"
Spain's coast and maritime fauna are threatened by the oil spill from the break-up of the Prestige

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See also:

03 Dec 02 | Europe
21 Nov 02 | Europe
03 Dec 02 | Europe
01 Dec 02 | Europe
19 Nov 02 | Science/Nature
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