The Environment Agency has blocked a tanker ship from leaving the UK on suspicion it was due to be illegally exported for dismantling.
This incident on 7 August was the first time powers to prevent a ship from leaving the UK have been used.
Docked at a Southampton port, the EA was told of concerns regarding the proposed sailing of the 50,700 tonne liquid gas tanker called Margaret Hill. Information suggested the ship may contain hazardous materials such as asbestos and could be destined for dismantling at a facility abroad.
Head of waste and resource management Liz Parkes said: We are continuing our discussions with those involved, including the finance company who recently took possession of the ship, to establish what is happening to it and to make them aware of the procedures that must be followed if they intend the ship to be exported for recycling.
There are rules in place to ensure waste ships do not end up in developing countries, and cause damage to people and the environment. The Environment Agency will only give permission for a waste ship to be exported if it is going to an authorised recycling site in a country that wants to accept it and has necessary agreements in place.
The EA did not receive or approve any applications to export the Margaret Hill and has enforced powers to temporarily stop the export of the ship to prevent any contravention of the rules on waste exports.
Under international law, anyone intending to send a waste ship from England or Wales must seek permission from the EA and the equivalent body in the destination country. Furthermore, waste ships containing hazardous waste are to be dismantled at properly authorised facilities in the EU or at an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development only.