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Commission calls for an end to dumping of disused offshore platforms in the sea

At the initiative of Commissioners Ritt Bjerregaard, responsible for the environment, and Christos Papoutsis, responsible for energy, the European Commission has adopted a Communication calling for an end to the dumping of disused offshore oil platforms in the seas around Euro...
At the initiative of Commissioners Ritt Bjerregaard, responsible for the environment, and Christos Papoutsis, responsible for energy, the European Commission has adopted a Communication calling for an end to the dumping of disused offshore oil platforms in the seas around Europe.

The Communication argues that all except for a limited number of the approximately 600 installations in European waters can be safely and economically removed and taken to land for recycling and safe disposal. Future rules in this area should therefore be based on the principle of a prohibition of disposal of such platforms in the sea. According to the Communication, the only category to be exempted from the rule would be the existing large concrete platforms for which there is currently no proven technology to remove them and where the environmental impact of disposal is limited. In addition, certain installations may be exempted from the prohibition, in exceptional cases, following a detailed individual evaluation and consultation of all parties.

The Council will be asked to confirm that this is the policy the Commission should put forward on behalf of the European Union. Ministerial negotiations will take place in July to finalise new rules in this area under the OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North East Atlantic which also covers the North Sea. The European Union is already party to a similar prohibition in the Baltic Sea.

"Today's decision shows that the discussion which was initiated by the Brent Spar affair is now leading to a major victory for the environment and highlights the importance this Commission accords to environmental protection" commented Environment Commissioner, Ritt Bjerregaard. Commissioner Papoutsis, also closely involved in the preparation of the Communication, stressed "I am pleased that we have succeeded in successfully combining energy policy with environmental protection. Sea disposal is neither a realistic nor a desirable option for the great majority of disused oil and gas installations. By encouraging on-shore dismantling and recycling, we are not only helping the environment but also creating jobs in communities where they are badly needed."

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