A Rotterdam court has found Dutch reefer operator Seatrade and two of its directors criminally liable last week for illegally selling vessels for demolition in South Asian yards in breach of the EU Waste Shipment Regulation.
The decision appears to be the first time an EU shipowner has been held criminally liable for the illegal export of vessels for demolition to South Asian yards. The Dutch public prosecutor brought the cases against Seatrade over historic sales of vessels for demolition in India, Bangladesh and Turkey in 2012. The sales of the vessels took place via cash buyers. All vessels departed from Rotterdam and Hamburg on their last voyage to the South Asian yards.
Seatrade and its directors were fined up to 750,000 euros and the directors have been banned from working in the shipping industry for a year. The public prosecutor also sought prison sentences for the directors, but the court did not impose these.
The decision sets a precedent in the Netherlands. It makes it clear that shipowners who sell vessels for demolition in South Asian scrap yards in breach of the EU Waste Shipment Regulation risk facing criminal liability. It is the first successful prosecution of a shipowner for non-compliance with the EU Waste Shipment Regulation, which prohibits the export of hazardous waste to non-OECD countries, and bans the export of waste for disposal.
Importantly, the case reflects the political climate and the greater interest shown by European countries in environmental issues and may be followed by other European countries. Cases of illegal demolition of vessels are currently being investigated by national authorities, such as the UK and Norway. In Norway for example, the vessel the MV “Tide Carrier” was arrested by the Norwegian environmental authorities, and these have been investigating its owners for illegally selling the vessel to a South Asian yard for demolition.
Shipowners should therefore take greater notice of the regulations when considering demolition. Continue Reading