To Catch a Polluter
Posted on Sep 17, 2009
British oil trader Trafigura had hundreds of tons of toxic waste. It decided to dump it in Ivory Coast, causing a number of deaths and sending thousands to hospitals. The company played dumb, claiming ignorance of the waste’s lethal danger. Now Trafigura has been caught in a web of lies, shot down by internal company e-mails.
The Guardian can reveal evidence today of a massive cover-up by the British oil trader Trafigura, in one of the worst pollution disasters in recent history.
Internal emails show that Trafigura, which yesterday suddenly announced an offer to pay compensation to 31,000 west African victims, was fully aware that its waste dumped in Ivory Coast was so toxic that it was banned in Europe.
Thousands of west Africans besieged local hospitals in 2006, and a number died, after the dumping of hundreds of tonnes of highly toxic oil waste around the country’s capital, Abidjan. Official local autopsy reports on 12 alleged victims appeared to show fatal levels of the poisonous gas hydrogen sulphide, one of the waste’s lethal byproducts.
Oil trader Trafigura hoped to make millions in profits by chemically “scrubbing” contaminated Mexican gasoline.