The Swiss oil trading company IPCO Trading (hereinafter: IPCO) has accepted a settlement penalty in the amount of Euros 100,000 offered by the Dutch Public Prosecution Service (DPPS). The DPPS charged the Swiss company with illegal import of (hazardous) waste and illegal processing of waste outside a licensed facilities, namely on board of a tanker ship off the Scheveningen coast.
The police started an investigation prompted by a report of the Inspectorate for Environment and Transport (ILT) in early 2013. A tanker ship named Franz Schulze had arrived in the Netherlands in January 2013. On board were approximately 8,000 m3 of high sulphur naphtha from a refinery in Tatarstan. This so-called ‘visbreaking naphtha’ is a residue from the production of (fossil) fuels. The Franz Schulze anchored at the Scheveningen Roads, within Dutch territorial waters. Here a start was made with ‘washing’ the naphtha, a process used to reduce sulphur levels of naphtha by means of caustic soda dissolved in water. This process was necessary to (subsequently) sell the naphtha as a fuel (component).
On the advice of the ILT, the Franz Schulze delivered the waste (‘spent caustic’), resulting from this chemical process performed on board to a licensed waste treatment company situated in Moerdijk. Thereafter, the ship sailed on to Antwerp, where the remaining naphtha was unloaded on 22 February 2013.
During the investigation it was established that the residue from Tatarstan - the high sulphur naphtha - should have been classified as waste. The transboundary transport of waste from Tartarstan to the Netherlands is subject to European regulations for waste shipment, the European Waste Shipment Regulation (EWSR).
IPCO had bought the high sulphur naphtha from a refinery in Tatarstan, and ordered to process the substance on board the tanker ship off the Scheveningen coast. Pursuant to EWSR, IPCO should have obtained permission from the Dutch authorities to transport the (hazardous) waste to the Netherlands prior to its shipment, as high sulphur naphtha is classified as waste. This permission was not obtained. Once within the territory of the Netherlands, waste may not be processed on board a ship. Processing is only allowed in a licensed waste treatment facility. Due to the risks it may entail, it is forbidden to process hazardous waste in facilities other than those designated for the purpose and monitored by supervisors.
The DPPS considers these offences serious. In the present case, environmental damage has luckily not occurred. Furthermore, IPCO did not make a profit by committing these criminal offences. Treatment with caustic soda turned out to be much more expensive than anticipated. The costs of treatment of the spent caustic, amounting to approx. 470,000 Euros, was higher than expected. The DPPS considers the settlement penalty of 100,000 Euros appropriate for the criminal offences committed. IPCO has admitted that it should have classified the high sulphur naphtha as (hazardous) waste.