Waste ship stopped from being scrapped in developing world

A crumbling tanker has been ordered to stay moored off the coast of Southampton after investigations showed it could be sailed to the developing world to be dismantled.

The Environment Agency (EA), has for the first time used powers to stop the ship, Margaret Hill, from leaving a UK port.

The ship, a 50,746-tonne liquid natural gas tanker built in 1974, is suspected to be lined with lethal materials like asbestos.

A joint investigation between the EA and coastguards led authorities to believe the tanker was heading abroad for dismantling at an undisclosed facility abroad.

India Bangladesh and Brazil all have a thriving ship wrecking industry, but under European Union law waste ships containing hazardous materials can only be dismantled at authorised facilities.

And, these have to be in either the European or an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) country which includes North America, Australia and Turkey.

Head of waste and resource management at the EA, Liz Parkes, , said: “We are continuing our discussions with those involved, including the finance company who recently took possession of the ship, to establish what is happening to it and to make them aware of the procedures that must be followed if they intend the ship to be exported for recycling.

“There are rules in place to ensure waste ships do not end up in developing countries, and cause damage to people and the environment.

“We will only give permission for a waste ship to be exported if it is going to an authorised recycling site in a country that wants to accept it and has necessary agreements in place.”

Luke Walsh

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