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could eradicate the problems that led to the Erika incident, but that shippers deserve stricter, "unpredictable and inef- ficient" regulations if they won't follow such steps. Carlsson has proposed mea- sures including the boycotting of compa- nies that are known to break or bend rules. Oil traders and tanker brokers have said that the outcry for tougher tanker restrictions might fade once the public outcry over the Erika dies down, and have warned that tightening of rules could result in a shortage of appropriate tonnage. Brokers say that nearly 20 per- cent, 340 ships, of the world fleet of 1,744 tankers between 10,000-50,000 dwt are 25 years of age or over. More than 50 ships still operating were built in the 1960s. "(The oil companies) depend a lot on older ships, but if they were prepared to pay more for modern ships, it would encourage owners to build more," a bro- ker said. structural failure in hull structure. This was followed by a cracking that led to the hull's collapse. "RINA will continue investigations to determine the cause of the initial failure as well as the results of subsequent actions by the master owners and other parties involved," society offi- cials said.
Though not one of the signers of the safety charter, RINA has called for improved exchanges of information between classification societies and has instituted a full audit of all similar ships in its fleet. The society also continues to cooperate with the French government's investigation of the accident and main- tains that it acted correctly and followed all relevant standards and guidelines.
Oil giant TotalFina, which chartered
Erika, has also refused to accept any responsibility for the sinking of the
Erika. However, the company has donat- ed about $125 million to the cleanup effort and, along with several other oil majors, instituted its own tighter charter- ing policies prior to the signing of the charter.
Although many industry players, including the CGT trade union, feel that the charter's safety proposals, to be debated at a March 28 Council of Minis- ters meeting in Belgium, are a good first step in the right direction, others insist that such Draconian regulations are unnecessary and won't help the problem.
The captain of the Erika has said that tight budgets mean that safety standards are often ignored. "There are certain things that nobody dares to say, but the job has changed a lot, everything is going too fast, everything is dominated by money," Karun Mathir, still under formal investigation for maritime pollu- tion, said. He added that the Erika's 26- person crew was doing the work that used to require 60 crewmembers.
Stopover times at ports were thus short- ened, meaning less time for paperwork, and a phasing out of radio officers led to lessened coordination with insurers, shipowners and shipping authorities, he said.
On the other hand, Lars Carlsson, president of Concordia Maritime, asserts that a series of simple measures March, 2000 Circle 249 on Reader Service Card 21
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