ASIA: South Korea says will ban single hull tankers from 2010

South Korea will close its waterways to single-hulled tankers from 2010, five years earlier than originally planned, following the country's worst oil spill, officials said Monday.

South Korea originally planned to phase out visits by the spill-prone vessels by 2015 but the spill last month prompted it to bring forward the ban, the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said.

ASIA: South Korea says will ban single hull tankers from 2010"We have decided to advance the timetable. All single-hulled tankers will be barred from entering our waters from 2010," a ministry official told AFP.

A drifting barge smashed into the 147,000-ton Hong Kong-registered tanker Hebei Spirit on December 7 in the Yellow Sea, holing it in three places. The single-hulled ship spilt more than 10,000 tonnes of crude oil.

The Hong Kong-registered tanker has been impounded until clean-up costs of more than 11 million dollars are paid.

Tens of thousands of police, troops and volunteers have staged a huge clean-up of the polluted shoreline but environmentalist say the damage could last for years. International efforts have been underway to require oil tankers to be double-hulled.

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