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Greenpeace Blocks Ship Linked to Ivory Coast Toxic Waste Dumping

Lisa Bryant

The ship that is at the heart of a toxic waste scandal in Ivory Coast remains in an Estonian port, where activists from the environmental group Greenpeace are blocking its departure. The boat is the subject of an international dispute.

Greenpeace activists who are blocking the ship in the Estonian port, Paldiski, are demanding an international inquiry into how it ended up in Ivory Coast with a load of toxic refuse. Yannick Vicaire, head of the toxic campaign for Greenpeace France, explains why the group is blockading the ship.

"We don't think it is still carrying toxic waste, but the we think that, for the investigation to be completed, we believe the book of records, the different port of calls the ship has been passing through - the captain, even communication records - can be useful for investigations going on both in the Netherlands and in the Ivory Coast," he said.

The ship ended up in Ivory Coast in August, after trying unsuccessfully to dispose of its cargo of chemicals in Europe and Nigeria. It struck an agreement with an Ivorian company to handle the waste. However, instead of incinerating the waste as it should have, the Ivorian company dumped it in and around Abidjan, the main city of Ivory Coast. Tens of thousands of people have been made sick from the toxic fumes and several of them have died.

Tuesday, Ivory Coast asked the Estonian government to detain the ship at port, while it continues its investigation into the scandal. Greenpeace has filed complaints against the Dutch company which chartered the ship. The chartering company claims it did nothing wrong.

Greenpeace campaigner Vicaire says European governments also share a certain responsibility for the fact the ships waste ended up in Ivory Coast, instead of being treated in Europe.

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