Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Turning Communities To Toxic Waste Dumps For A Price

This a follow-up to the post "Ivory Coast Clean-up Offer"

"Ivory Coast toxic clean-up offer Dutch-based oil trading group Trafigura is to pay the Ivorian government $198m (£102m) for a clean-up and inquiry after a"toxic waste" incident in 2006. Trafigura say this is not "damages" and that there is no admission of liability on their part for whatever happened" --- BBC NEWS

Since the pre-Blogger migration archive for this site was lost, I'm republishing this post on the Trafigura dump of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast. This article provides a little more background on the issue.


--- Originally posted by Pamela to Pam's Coffee Conversation at 11/24/2006 08:03:06 PM ---

You probably won't hear about this on either your local or national news broadcast. After all, it happened in the Ivory Coast and the local officials were at fault, right?

Even if you don't read this entire article think about this. If corporations run out of corrupt Third World officials that are willing to sacrifice the lives of their citizens, how much will it cost for your neighborhood to be turned into a toxic waste dump?

As the article points out the waste management company "Tommy", "was created during the same period when the Probo Koala left Holland for the Ivory Coast," and that it had "had all appearances of a shell company created for the circumstance."

And you thought this only happened in the movies!


Ivory Coast officials blamed for lethal toxic slick

Read the entire article at

Mismanagement, negligence and fraud by government agencies and private companies led to the dumping of a highly toxic cocktail of petrochemical waste in Ivory Coast in August, according to a government report issued there Thursday.

At least 10 people died and thousands were sickened after chemical waste pumped from a tanker chartered by a Netherlands-based oil trading company was dumped across Abidjan, the capital of Ivory Coast, in the main landfill and near poor residential neighborhoods.

Citing the "lack of rigorous management, failure to observe professional ethics and nonapplication of regulations," the report concluded that officials at the city's port and in several government ministries responsible for monitoring the shipping and handling of waste and petroleum allowed the chain of events that led to the dumping, despite repeated red flags.

The waste arrived in Abidjan on Aug. 19 aboard the Probo Koala, a Greek- owned tanker flying a Panamanian flag and leased by Trafigura, an oil trading corporation.

The tanker carried a toxic mix of chemicals that the ship had already tried to dispose of in Amsterdam in July, saying the waste was ordinary slop from cleaning the tanks of petroleum products.

But workers in Amsterdam's port refused to take the waste for the initial price, $15,000, saying it was toxic and would require special disposal.

Instead of paying the more than $300,000 it would cost to dispose of the waste in Europe, the ship sailed a circuitous route that included stops in Estonia and Nigeria, eventually arriving in Abidjan, where a subsidiary of Trafigura, Puma Energie, arranged to have the waste disposed of by Tommy, a local company.

The report identified Tommy, which agreed to dispose of the waste for $20,000, and its manager, Salomon Ugborugbo, as mainly responsible for the dumping.

Before the waste arrived, Ugborugbo wrote an electronic message to a Trafigura official, saying that he had found a place "outside the city called 'Akwedo' where he would dump the products," the report said.

Akouedo is the city landfill surrounded by poor neighborhoods and frequented by thousands of people who make a living picking recyclable items from the trash.

Once the waste arrived, Tommy hired 12 tanker trucks, paying them about $250 each, and sent them to dump the material in Akouedo, according to the report.

Summarized by Copernic Summarizer


1 comment:

  1. Greenpeace Condemns Trafigura-Cote d’Ivoire Deal as Travesty of Justice

    CONTACT: Greenpeace
    Helen Perivier, Toxics Campaigner, Greenpeace International: +32 2 274 19 05 +32 496 12 71 07 Jasper Teulings, Senior Legal Counsel, Greenpeace International: +31 6 2000 5229 Namrata Chowdhary, Greenpeace International Communications: +31 646 1973 27

    Greenpeace Condemns Trafigura-Cote d’Ivoire Deal as Travesty of Justice

    AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - February 14 - Greenpeace condemns the deal struck between the Presidency of the Cote d’Ivoire and the Trafigura group. Trafigura will reportedly pay € 152 million towards clean-up costs, without accepting liability or responsibility for the dumping of highly toxic chemical wastes from their ship, the Probo Koala.(1) In return, the President has agreed to drop all charges against the company and its executives (who will now be released from prison) and undertaken not to pursue any further financial claims against the Trafigura.

    The results of the criminal investigations in Cote d’Ivoire, The Netherlands and Estonia have not yet been published and the committee commissioned by Cote d’Ivoire to look into the international implications of the disaster (CIEDT/Commission Internationale d’Enquete sur les Dechets Toxiques dans le District d’Abidjan) is scheduled to publish its report today, 14th of February 2007. The report, which was commissioned by the Cote d’Ivoire government, will attribute responsibilities of international players.

    “One cannot do justice without knowing the facts in their entirety. At this stage, it would have been more appropriate to secure a provisional settlement with an advance payment, rather than one that closes the books definitively, especially when the full extent of liabilities have not yet been determined,” said Jasper Teulings, Senior Legal Counsel, Greenpeace International.

    Although this settlement has no bearing on the legal rights of the victims of this disaster, it is feared that the victims will now receive little, if any, support from their government in pursuing justice.

    “This Faustian deal may provide the Cote D’Ivoire the much-needed funds to deal with the clean-up, but it is by no means fair. Trade in hazardous waste is a serious crime under international law (2), and by agreeing to this deal, the President has signed away his country’s right to bring a criminal corporation to justice,” said Helen Perivier, Toxics Campaigner, Greenpeace International, “The ease with which international environmental laws are broken and questionable deals exchanged for real justice, painfully highlights yet again, that the international community creates laws but simply lacks the political will to implement and enforce them.”

    Notes to Editor

    1. On 19 and 20 August 2006 the Panamanian flagged ship Probo Koala, chartered by the multinational oil trading firm Trafigura, unloaded over 580 tonnes of petrochemical waste into trucks that then dumped the waste in around 13 open air sites in neighbourhoods throughout Abidjan, the commercial capital of Côte d’Ivoire. Exposure to the toxic wastes led to the death of several Cote d’Ivoire residents, and numerous cases of intoxication.

    2. The important amendment to the Basel Convention, the Basel Ban, as well as the Bamako Convention, contains strict rules against the export of waste from developed to developing countries. The Basel Ban has been adopted as EU law and clearly applies to this case.



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