Monday, October 09, 2006

European Dumping in Africa: Toxic Waste Trade Kills

A Greek-owned tanker, the Probo Koala, right, flying a Panamanian flag and leased by the London branch of a swiss trading corporation (Trafigura) with headquarters in the Netherlands, traveled from Europe to the Ivory Coast in Africa where they hired a received approval from local authorities to hired a local company, Tommy, that hired a dozen tanker trucks and dumped the following chemicals in 18 sites, including landfills, throughout Abidjan: caustic soda, mercapatans (type of sulfur compound) and the volatile organic compound hydrogen sulfide, which paralyzed the nervous system.

The dumping caused 85,000 people to seek medical treatment and eight people died. People exposed to the chemical toxins complained of nausea, headaches, skin sores and nosebleeds. Trafigura is a $28 billion per year company that was trying to avoid paying $300,000 for what it thought would be a $15,000 disposal job. Various people from Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Europe and from Trafigura have been jailed and additional criminal charges have been filed against Trafigura. Workers in Abidjan, upper left, are cleaning up the mess to the extent they can. (New York Times)

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