Amnesty Calls for Investigation on West African Waste Dumping
by: Katie Grimmer
September 27, 2012
Six years ago a Trafigura tanker carrying toxic waste allegedly dumped its contents in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Trafigura claims that “the slops could at worst have caused a range of short term low-level flu like symptoms and anxiety” on their Web site.
However, on that August 2006 morning, families woke to toxic fumes. “Chemical waste had been brought to their city…and dumped, untreated, on rubbish sites around the city on newly formed local company,” BBC reported.
A national commission of inquiry stated this dumping resulted in 15 deaths (17, according to the Ivorian court) and 100,000 more seeking out medical attention.
A three-year-long investigation by Amnesty International and Greenpeace ends with the recent report The Toxic Truth, which provides “an in-depth examination of the tragic litany of failures that created a medical, political and environmental disaster,” an Amnesty International press release stated. Amnesty and Greenpeace now calls for the UK to undertake criminal investigation against Trafigura.
The UK’s response?
The government said it would be inappropriate to launch an investigation because the vessel that was involved wasn’t registered with the UK nor was the waste on the vessel loaded in or originated from the UK, Al Jazeera reported.
The tanker was docked in Amsterdam. But because costs were too high, the Dutch let the ship leave the port and that ship made its way to West Africa. One of the goals of the most recent investigation is to try and change the international laws to cover those companies who travel across boarders, such as Trafigura.
So whose fault was it? Trafigura? The Dutch? The UK?
“We don’t know the facts,” says Genevieve Diallo to Amnesty International, who lives near one of the dump sites in Abidjan. “Those responsible need to be punished. Those who are really guilty have not been punished.”