2006 Côte D'Ivoire Toxic Waste Dump

The 2006 Côte d'Ivoire toxic waste dump was a health crisis in Côte d'Ivoire in which a ship registered in Panama, the Probo Koala, chartered by the Dutch-based oil and commodity shipping company Trafigura Beheer BV, offloaded toxic waste at the Ivorian port of Abidjan. The waste was then dumped by a local contractor at as many as 12 sites in and around the city of Abidjan in August 2006.

The gas caused by the release of these chemicals is blamed by the UN and the government of Côte d'Ivoire for the deaths of 17 and the injury of over 30,000 Ivorians, with injuries that ranged from mild headaches to severe burns of skin and lungs. Almost 100,000 Ivorians sought medical attention for the effects of these chemicals.

The substance was claimed by Trafigura to have been "slops", or waste water from the washing of the Probo Koala's tanks. An inquiry in the Netherlands, in late 2006, revealed the substance was more than 500 tonnes of a mixture of fuel, caustic soda, and hydrogen sulfide for which Trafigura chose not to pay a €1,000 per cubic metre disposal charge at the port of Amsterdam. The Probo Koala was turned away by several countries before offloading the toxic waste at the Port of Abidjan.

Trafigura denied any waste was transported from the Netherlands, saying that the substances contained only tiny amounts of hydrogen sulfide, and that the company did not know the substance was to be disposed of improperly. In early 2007, the company paid US$198 million for cleanup to the Ivorian government without admitting wrongdoing, and the Ivorian government pledged not to prosecute the company. A series of protests and resignations of Ivorian government officials followed this deal.

In 2008, a civil lawsuit in London was launched by almost 30,000 Ivorians against Trafigura. In May 2009, Trafigura announced it would sue the BBC for libel after its Newsnight program alleged the company had knowingly sought to cover up its role in the incident. In September 2009 The Guardian obtained and published internal Trafigura emails showing that the traders responsible knew how dangerous the chemicals were. Shortly afterwards Trafigura offered an unnamed settlement figure to the class action suit against it.

Read more about 2006 Côte D'Ivoire Toxic Waste Dump:  Probo Koala

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