Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Trafigura: Probo Koala Waste - Amsterdam

For too long now the line taken by Dr Busch vis-à-vis the Probo Koala waste has been unchallenged.  No longer.

In a comment to my post of yesterday he states,

“these wastes which were supposed to be dealt with by Amsterdam Port Services (APS) were not wastes covered by the European or Basel export decrees; they were covered by the Marine Pollution rules (MARPOL) and specifically excluded from Basel or the European rules.”

and in his article “Environmental Queen of Hearts” he says,

“Article 1, section 4 of the Basle Treaty says, “Wastes
which derive from the normal operations of a ship, the discharge of which is covered by another international instrument, are excluded from the scope of this Convention.
[Dr Busch’s emphasis] The wastes on the Probo Koala are covered by the MARPOL Convention Annexe 1 rules and are exempt from the
Basel Treaty.”

First, let’s look at the sentence in bold type.  This refers to wastes from the normal operation of a ship.  By no stretch of the imagination can the Probo Koala’s waste be described as resulting from normal ship operations. 

A bulk tanker moves bulk materials from one port to another.  After each tank emptying the tanks must be cleaned so that the next cargo will not be contaminated.  The waste from this is the result of normal operations of a ship and WOULD be excluded from the Basel Treaty.

The Probo Koala’s waste arose mainly from a very different type of operation. 

The ship carried out very abnormal operations: it became a floating chemical plant with the “slops”, as Busch and Trafigura described them, actually being the residue from the chemical process carried out on board.

The exclusion clause quoted by Dr Busch surely CANNOT apply to the operation I have described and so the wastes are not necessarily exempt from the Basel Treaty.

It is possible though that neither Marpol nor Basel cover the waste from the Probo Koala, the idea of using a ship as a chemical processing plant may not have been envisaged.  If there is a gap in coverage then it must be closed NOW.

 

Soon I’ll take a look at other points raised by Trafigura and DR Busch which may not stand scrutiny.

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