5.14.2009

Papers prove Trafigura ship dumped toxic waste in Ivory Coast

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/may/13/trafigura-ivory-coast-documents-toxic-waste
A Dutch team tackle the waste left in Abidjan
Documents have emerged which detail for the first time the potentially lethal nature of toxic waste dumped by British-based oil traders in one of west Africa's poorest countries.
More than 30,000 people from Ivory Coast claim they were affected by the ­poisonous cocktail and are currently bringing Britain's biggest-ever group lawsuit against the company, Trafigura.
The firm chartered the ship, Probo Koala, which transported the cargo to Ivory Coast in 2006.
An official Dutch analysis of samples of the waste carried by the Probo Koala indicate that it contained approximately 2 tonnes of hydrogen sulphide, a killer gas with a characteristic smell of rotten eggs.
The documents have been obtained by the BBC. One chemist told BBC Newsnight last night that if the same quantity and mixture of chemicals had been dumped in Trafalgar Square: "You would have people being sick for several miles around … millions of people."
Trafigura, which claims to be one of the world's biggest independent oil ­traders, originally issued statements in 2006 denying the tanker was carrying toxic waste. It said it merely contained routine "slops" – the dirty water from tank washing. Executives of the company lined up to specifically deny that the waste contained any hydrogen sulphide.
It was put by the Guardian to ­Trafigura's lawyers with 24 hours notice that the company had been making wrong statements about the toxic waste. The firm's ­lawyers, Carter-Ruck, then asked to be given more time, until 5.30pm tonight. When 5.30pm passed, they asked for another hour. By 7pm, they still remained silent.
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