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Government publishes legal document on MSC Zoe disaster at LAPP's insistence

The cargo lost at sea as a result of the MSC Zoe disaster should be considered environmental pollution and information about it should be made public. This was the case made by Leiden Law School’s Leiden Advocacy Project on Plastic (LAPP). Following their investigation, the government has finally decided to publish this information after five years.

Following the MSC Zoe disaster, in which 342 waste containers ended up in the Wadden Sea, the Dutch government withheld information about the potential location of the waste. Parliamentary questions were raised about this, but ‘time and again, the Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management argued that the Government Information Act, the predecessor of the Open Government Act (‘Woo’), prevented information from being published’ (Leiden Law Blog). It was labelled as ‘litter’ and the government ‘saw no need to clean it up’ (NOS, in Dutch). 

Now, five years after the environmental disaster, the Leiden Advocacy Project on Plastic (LAPP) filed a Woo request for publication of the Master Target List (in Dutch) and control surveys. After a process in which LAPP objected and stood firm through legal research, the government has finally disclosed the information. More information on this is provided in the Leiden Law Blog.

Various media channels have reported on LAPP's success. Dutch public broadcaster NOS wrote the following:

‘It’s thanks to a group of students from Leiden University that the list has finally been published. The LAPP students help non-governmental organisations such as the Waddenvereniging (‘Wadden Sea Association’) with legal issues concerning plastics. In this case, the LAPP lodged multiple appeals – and was eventually successful – citing the Open Government Act (Woo).’

More information

Read the LAPP's full report (in Dutch) in the Leiden Law Blog.

Find out more about the government's decision on NOS (in Dutch).

Other media channels that have reported on this decision (in Dutch):

Omroep Fryslan


The Leiden Advocacy Project on Plastic

The Leiden Advocacy Project on Plastic (LAPP) is a pro bono initiative that addresses legal issues relating to plastics.

Plastic pollution is becoming increasingly problematic, and the LAPP was founded to address and research the related legal issues. Through the LAPP, students provide legal advice to NGOs and have the opportunity to apply their knowledge of legal theory to real-life issues. This project falls under the Moot Court.

More information is available here.

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