Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Poisoning Africa

In August 2006 a local company hastily fly-tipped truckload after truckload of chemical waste at around 15 locations around the city.

Trafigura had chartered the ship carrying the waste, which unloaded the waste in Ivory Coast, after a failure to agree deals to get it treated in the Netherlands and Nigeria.It said it had contracted a local firm, Tommy, to handle the waste in good faith.

In an out-of-court settlement, Trafigura agreed to pay the Ivorian government around $200m (£100m) in one of the largest ever payments of its kind.

Thousands of victims say they have yet to receive compensation - or say that what they have been given - around $500 (£250) in the main injury category - falls short of the amount they have lost in medical bills and earnings.

Trafigura also disputes whether the chemical slops were the cause of the large number of medical cases.

The United Nations says the dumping of the 500m tonnes of waste led to at least 16 deaths and more than 100,000 other victims needing medical treatment.

Two years on it is still here.

The UN special rapporteur on the dumping of toxic waste, Professor Okechukwu Ibeanu, recently spent four days in the country speaking to officials and victims.

"After almost two years, these sites have still not been decontaminated and continue to threaten the lives and health of tens of thousands of residents, across different social spectrums in Abidjan.The government has informed me that it does not have the technical capacity to clean up and decontaminate the dumpsites in a timelier manner," he said in a statement."This should be an absolute priority."

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