The Green Party has filed a crime report with the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA), claiming that significant quantities of oil have been transferred between one vessel and another, within a specially designated conservation area.
Greens leader Zuleyxa Izmailova said: "We have asked the PPA to investigate how has a situation become possible where the government has been engaging in enabling the threat of an environmental catastrophe."
The alleged ship-to-ship oil transfers had taken place in the Pakri special conservation area, close to the port city of Paldiski, on the northwest coast.
The Greens area also asking about a regulation adopted last year which apply to the Narva River and Peipsi Järv, regulating water-borne transfers of environmentally hazardous agents, but which, they say, do not take into account environmentally sensitive areas or allow for fees to be levied on such activity in those areas.
The Pakri special conservation area is a part of the Natura 2000 Europe-wide network of protected areas and contains significant bird and seal breeding areas.
The ship-to-ship oil transfers have been going on in the Pakri zone since March 2019, the Greens say.
"We are asking you to establish whether in the course of the process of the adoption of the regulation or after it influence peddling, knowingly ignoring of the risk of an environmental accident, or ignoring of the interests of the state through non-taxation have occurred, or forbidden donations to political parties or payouts to members of the ruling parties have been made in connection with these decisions," the party went on.
Two major cases of maritime pollution in the past decade concerned similar vessel-to-vessel transfers.
Environment minister addresses interior minister on issue
Environment minister Tõnis Mölder (Center) is due to request the temporary suspension of authorization of such transfers, BNS reports, from interior minister Kristjan Jaani, whose ministry overseas the PPA.
Mölder said more clarity was needed on the nature of such activity.
Mölder said: "I wish to ascertain how the safety of the environment and the people is comprehensively ensured in ship-to-ship cargo transfers."
Legislation will be reviewed and analysis carried out by the relevant authorities, Mölder added.
One concrete example of such authorization comes from next weekend, where vessels conducting ship-to-ship transfer of potentially hazardous liquids are to be monitored by the PPA and environmental inspectors, BNS reports.
Editor: Andrew Whyte