Greenpeace condemns Trafigura-Cote d’Ivoire deal as travesty of justice

Press release - 14 February, 2007
Greenpeace condemns the deal struck between the Presidency of the Cote d’Ivoire and the Trafigura group. Trafigura will reportedly pay € 152 million towards clean-up costs, without accepting liability or responsibility for the dumping of highly toxic chemical wastes from their ship, the Probo Koala.(1) In return, the President has agreed to drop all charges against the company and its executives (who will now be released from prison) and undertaken not to pursue any further financial claims against the Trafigura.

Greenpeace blockades the Panamanian flagged cargo vessel Probo Koala in the harbour of Paldiski in Estonia. On 19th August this year the Probo Koala unloaded a toxic waste shipment in the town Abidjan of the Ivory Coast. A shipment that killed 7 people and injured 55,000 people.

The results of the criminal investigations in Coted’Ivoire, The Netherlands and Estonia have not yet been published and thecommittee commissioned by Cote d’Ivoire to look into the internationalimplications of the disaster (CIEDT/CommissionInternationale d’Enquete sur les Dechets Toxiques dans le District d’Abidjan)is scheduled to publish its report today, 14th of February 2007. Thereport, which was commissioned by the Cote d’Ivoire government, will attributeresponsibilities of international players.

“One cannot do justice without knowing the facts intheir entirety. At this stage, it would have been more appropriate to secure aprovisional settlement with an advance payment, rather than one that closes thebooks definitively, especially when the full extent of liabilities have not yetbeen determined,” said Jasper Teulings, Senior Legal Counsel, GreenpeaceInternational.

Although this settlement has no bearing on the legalrights of the victims of this disaster, it is feared that the victims will nowreceive little, if any, support from their government in pursuing justice.

“This Faustian deal may providethe Cote D’Ivoire the much-needed funds to deal with the clean-up, but it is byno means fair. Trade in hazardous waste is a serious crime under internationallaw (2), and by agreeing to this deal, the President has signed away hiscountry’s right to bring a criminal corporation to justice,” said HelenPerivier, Toxics Campaigner, Greenpeace International, “The ease with whichinternational environmental laws are broken and questionable deals exchangedfor real justice, painfully highlights yet again, that the internationalcommunity creates laws but simply lacks the political will to implement andenforce them.”

VVPR info: Helen Perivier, Toxics Campaigner, Greenpeace International: +32 2 274 19 05 +32 496 12 71 07Jasper Teulings, Senior Legal Counsel, Greenpeace International: +31 6 2000 5229Namrata Chowdhary, Greenpeace International Communications: +31 646 1973 27

Notes: 1. On 19 and 20 August 2006 the Panamanian flagged ship Probo Koala, chartered by the multinational oil trading firm Trafigura, unloaded over 580 tonnes of petrochemical waste into trucks that then dumped the waste in around 13 open air sites in neighbourhoods throughout Abidjan, the commercial capital of Côte d’Ivoire. Exposure to the toxic wastes led to the death of several Cote d’Ivoire residents, and numerous cases of intoxication.2. The important amendment to the Basel Convention, the Basel Ban, as well as the Bamako Convention, contains strict rules against the export of waste from developed to developing countries. The Basel Ban has been adopted as EU law and clearly applies to this case.