Ministers unjustly block a ban on releasing toxic vapours for years

barge rotterdam

For at least ten years, Dutch Ministers of Infrastructure and Water Management have claimed to be unable to enact a ban on dumping toxic and carcinogenic gasses by cargo vessels because of international treaties. A Report on Floating Degassing co-authored by Abdurrahman Erol, PhD Candidate at Erasmus School of Law, and Alessandra Arcuri, Professor of International Economic Law at Erasmus School of Law, shows that international treaties pose no obstacle to adopt such a ban. NRC, NOS and Omroep Flevoland have interviewed the researchers and discuss the Report. Reacting to the Report, Groenlinks has already proposed a motion to be discussed by the Parliament this Tuesday. On 24 January 2023, Erol and Arcuri present their findings at a seminar in Sanders Building.

Daily, cargo vessels release toxic fumes from their tanks after delivering oil and chemical products to customers to clean the tanks for the next shipment, for example, when crossing the Marker Lake or the IJssel Lake. The degassing causes headaches, fever and red eyes to crew members. Skippers are also worried about the long-term effects on themselves, their crew and the environment in which the fumes are dumped.

According to the ministers, a ban would be desirable but is impossible because Switzerland and France still need to ratify the degassing treaty. International treaties would prevent an early implementation of a Dutch ban when some participating countries still need to approve the treaty's text.

Commissioned by Omroep Flevoland, Arcuri and Erol analysed the international treaties of which ministers claimed that these block a national ban on degassing. The researchers concluded something entirely different; Arcuri explained to Omroep Flevoland: "we have consulted many legal sources. Truly, we have read thousands of pages, and we could not find anything that could block a national ban. However, looking at human rights treaties, the Netherlands likely has to ban it because the health of inhabitants is at stake and the environment is being harmed."

According to Arcuri, the communication of the ministers to parliament is the most considerable neglect: "In this way, it is not easy for the public to control the government. Because the Dutch government has been passive and because degassing has serious health implications, this is worrisome. Also, the risk emerges that technical laws are used as an excuse not to act."

On 24 January 2023 at 14.00h, Arcuri and Erol present their findings at a seminar in Sanders Building. Everyone is welcome to participate online or physically. To join online please register here. To join physically, please send an email to Abdurrahman Erol.

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