PHASE OUT OF SINGLE-HULL TANKERS CREATES PROBLEM

With appoximately 434 single hull tankers being phased out by April 5,2005 in Europe, experts said that there may be a crisis there, because few shipyards have the capacity to break the tankers. It is illegal under European law to export toxic waste to developing countries. Many contend that scrapping is a dangerous business; an average of one worker a day dies in ship breaking yards in India, Bangladesh and other Asian countries. Therefore, some are pushing to have ship owners pay a levy.

In the past, European ship owners have avoided the Basel Convention's rules by claiming that the hulls were being broken up were to be recycled. However, last October, the European Union agreed this was no longer legal and the ships must be cleaned before they are exported or be dismantled in Europe.

The Basel Action Network campaigns to bring an end to scrapping on Asian beaches. Their spokesman, Jim Puckett, said: "The sudden need to scrap all these tankers has instantly become a dilemma for everyone that has ignored the problem for a long time. There are yards in Europe that would love to have the business, but it's about money. So, the only responsible way to handle the problem is to have ship owners pay a levy."