Dutch public prosecutors are bringing criminal charges against Seatrade for having illegally sold four vessels to scrap yards in countries, “where current ship dismantling methods endanger the lives and health of workers and pollutes the environment”.
The Netherlands-based Seatrade is the world’s largest reefer operator.
Calling for a €2.5 million (US$3.2 million) fine and the confiscation of the profits Seatrade made, prosecutors are also pushing for a six-month prison sentence for three executives.
In 2013, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform revealed Seatrade’s sale of Spring Bear and Spring Bob to Indian and Bangladeshi breakers. Spring Panda and Spring Deli were scrapped in Turkey.
The charges are based on international laws governing the export of hazardous waste and the EU Waste Shipment Regulation.
The regulation prohibits EU member states from exporting hazardous waste to countries outside the OECD, as well as requiring a prior informed consent for such exports.
The prosecutor alleges Seatrade opted for using a cash buyer rather than recycling the ships in a safe and clean manner, for purely financial reasons.
Authorities in Norway, Belgium and the UK will be paying close attention to the verdict as similar cases are being investigated there.