Ivory Coast removes illegally dumped toxic waste

Published: Tuesday 31 October 2006

Ivory Coast has begun mopping up the toxic waste that was illegally dumped by a Dutch-based commodities company, Trafigura Beheer BV, in early September. The waste, which left eight dead and at least 44,000 seeking medical treatment, was released by the company's chartered tanker, Probo Koala. Wastes still remain scattered at 18 sites in the city of Abidjan (see 'Cabinet resigns over toxic waste', Down To Earth, October 15, 2006).

According to a un Disaster Assessment and Coordination Mission report, the hazardous sludge contains hydrogen sulfide, mercaptan, phenol and hydrocarbon, whose fumes were in life-threatening concentration at the time of dumping. International waste removal experts say the mop up operation will cost us $13 million. who has already sent experts to support Ivorian medical professionals, including a toxicologist and environmental specialist. The uno ffice for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has reassured that Abidjan's water system has not been contaminated, though cautioned against eating produce grown near dumpsites. Meanwhile, Ivory Coast authorities have arrested two senior officials of Trafigura while they tried to leave the country. They are charged with infractions of toxic waste laws.

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