News / Africa

Toxic Dumping in Ivory Coast Called Environmental Disaster

Abidjan residents live and work near the dump site, February 2009. (Greenpeace)
Abidjan residents live and work near the dump site, February 2009. (Greenpeace)
Kim Lewis
Amnesty International and Greenpeace Netherlands have called for a criminal investigation into what they say was the illegal dumping of toxic waste in and around Abidjan, Ivory Coast, six years ago, by a multinational company, Trafigura.

The organizations have jointly released a new report entitled The Toxic Truth.  They said it is the culmination of a three-year investigation and in-depth examination of what they call the failures that created a medical, political and environmental disaster in West Africa. 

The report includes documentation of various illnesses people in the area have been suffering from as a result of the dumping of toxic waste in their communities.

“We went out and talked to victims as well as doctors who treated these people, and we documented that over 100,000 people have sought medical help. The doctors described the effects as a unique mix of symptoms.  For example, they have neurological complaints, headaches, black outs; respiratory problems; skin; digestive; ear, nose and throat problems,” explained Marietta Harjono, toxic waste campaigner for Greenpeace International in Amsterdam. 

She said these symptoms have been extremely frightening for the victims.

Before it reached the coast of West Africa, the toxic waste made a perilous international journey that began as a business opportunity.

Harjono said toxic waste was created on the ship because the company, Trafigura ran out of land options.  They then tried to dispose of the waste in Europe but no facilities were able to process the waste.  However, the Netherlands offered the company a good disposal method, but Trafigura turned it down.

“After a long journey, they decided to bring it to Cote d’Ivoire.  It is truly an international story, because it all started with low quality gasoline brought from Mexico and the U-S, traveled through Europe, then to the Mediterranean where it was processed.  But it ended up at the doorsteps of the people of Abidjan who had nothing to do with it,” said Harjono.

Amnesty International and Greenpeace International said they want someone in the United Kingdom to look into the dumping so that Trafigura can be brought to justice.

The company did respond to the allegations made in the report, answering that it was not responsible for the dumping of the waste in and around Abidjan.

“They’ve always said ‘it is not us who you need to blame’.  We have showed them our report with the allegations and they just said it is not accurate.  But they do not give us details as to why it is not accurate,” said Harjono.

Harjono said not only has Trafigura denied any responsibility, they have also failed to answer the question, “Why did you decide to bring the toxic waste to Africa and not go for the option in Amsterdam?” 

To listen to the entire interview with Kim Lewis and Marietta Harjono, please click on audio.

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid