The toxic truth about Abidjan

More than six years after the dumping of large quantities of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast, there is still nothing to stop a similar disaster in developing countries because politicians and courts have failed to learn from the lessons, a new report has found.

In 2009, the Guardian fought a landmark legal battle to reveal the links from Trafigura, a multinational oil trader, to the dumping of tonnes of toxic waste in the African nation three years earlier, causing a public health crisis that affected more than 100,000 people. Effects included breathing difficulties, nausea, stinging eyes and burning skin.

But such devastating dumping could easily be perpetrated again in developing countries, according to a three-year investigation into the incident by Amnesty International and Greenpeace. Their report, published on Tuesday, has concluded that too little has been done to strengthen national and international regulations, even after the scale of the toxic dumping became clear.

“This experience shows that a company can put a country into a medical crisis through toxic waste dumping, and still get away with it,” said Marietta Harjono, campaigner at Greenpeace. “This is a failure on every level. That is why we are very worried that it could happen again.”

Trafigura has argued that it was not responsible for the dumping of toxic waste by the Probo Koala. It was onboard this ship that a partially-refined fuel was subjected to “caustic washing” treatment and turned it into foul-smelling toxic sludge. The 229-page report, entitled The Toxic Truth, disputes this claim and argues that the company’s account “lacks credibility”. READ MORE…

In 2009, The Guardian released an article on their findings after a study commissioned by Trafigura about its own waste dumping in West Africa that had been leaked to the newspaper.

An article by Amnesty International has more information on the report configured in partnership with Greenpeace.

The actual report, The Toxic Truth, is available here.

In an article on the matter, Inter Press Service reveals the perspective of a local resident near the contaminated area.

image credit: ALJAZEERA


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