VOL. NO: 48      DATE:
 
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AFRICAN ECHO NEWS

TOXIC WASTE FROM IVORY COAST SENT TO FRANCE

A ship carrying some 3,000 metric tonnes of toxic waste has arrived in the French port of Le Havre from the main Ivory Coast city, Abidjan. 

The waste, which is to be neutralised, was dumped in Ivory Coast in August, and has been blamed for causing the deaths of 10 people there. 

In addition, more than 60 people were taken to hospital and up to 100,000 had vomiting and breathing problems. Ivory Coast has begun an inquiry into the waste, shipped by a Dutch firm. 

The ship, the MN Toucan, arrived in Le Havre after a 10-day journey from Abidjan with 141 sealed containers on board. 

France's Ecology Minister Nelly Olin said Ivory Coast had asked for French help because it "was not able to treat" the waste. 

Further waste shipments between Ivory Coast and France are expected. Dutch firm Trafigura has denied responsibility for dumping the waste in the city of Abidjan, saying it employed a local company to dispose of it. 

Ten people, including two French Trafigura executives, have been charged in connection with the discharge. Trafigura first attempted to discharge the chemical slops, which contains mercaptan, from one of its tankers, the Probo Koala in the Dutch port of Amsterdam in early August. But the company that was to dispose of the waste suddenly increased its charges dramatically - asking for 40 times more to treat the waste. 

Trafigura refused, and the tanker proceeded to Nigeria. There it tried to offload the waste, but again failed to reach an agreement with two local firms. It was only in Ivory Coast that it managed to find a company to handle the waste at a cost the company would accept. 

On 19 August the waste was discharged near Abidjan. Two weeks later the first complaints arose. Instead of being incinerated as it should have been, the waste had been dumped. The scandal led the Ivory Coast government to resign.

 

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