SP demands European enquiry into Probo Koala

12 October 2006

SP demands European enquiry into Probo Koala

The SP's Euro-MPs will today urge Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas to take responsibility for coordinating the different national enquiries into the poison ship Probo Koala. Experience shows how difficult it will be to conduct such investigations now that the ship is free to come and go in and out of harbours as it pleases.

“It is simple logic that the EU must play a role in this,” said SP Euro-MP Kartika Liotard, who sits on the European Parliament's Environment and Public Health Committee. “It concerns breaches of European laws, and so clearly a European enquiry is necessary.” Ms Liotard warns, in addition, that any enquiry will be far more difficult now that the Estonian authorities have freed the ship to leave.

The Probo Koala, which on 10th October 2006 was still moored in the Estonian port of Paldiski

“If the Probo Koala continues on its way it will be much harder for, for example, a country which is involved in the matter, such as the Netherlands, to conduct a detailed enquiry. European coordination would make it possible to investigate the ship in any EU harbour with while avoiding an excess of bureaucracy. Numerous questions remain unanswered.

In addition, any enquiry must embrace the Probo Koala's sister ship, the Probo Emu, which environmental organisations and the Spanish authorities believe to be transporting similar waste. This ship is on its way to Norway, where not all EU environmental regulations apply. Effective cooperation with the Norwegian authorities is therefore essential.”

The SP has itself experienced lack of of cooperation by the Probo Koala's owners in attempting to pursue an independent enquiry. The crew's openly expressed concerns over contamination mean that it is, moreover, essential to talk to its members before they leave the ship. Yet a representative of Ms Liotard who on Monday travelled to Paldiski was time and again refused access to the ship at the very last moment, despite having completed all of the necessary formalities. An assurance from the owners to allow the ship to be inspected next week now appears doubtful, given that the vessel could sail at any time.

“These are clearly delaying actions,” Liotard said. “I can only conclude that the firm has something to hide. Why else should they object to an official representative of a Member of the European Parliament having a look on board?” . Liotard plans to continue to pursue the Probo Koala until access is granted as promised. She will ask the owner's lawyer to confirm that the promise to allow the ship to be inspected remains valid in whatever port it should find itself.

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