UPDATE 27 SEPTEMBER 2006: VICTORY! ESTONIAN GOVERNMENT CONFIRMS THEY WILL DETAIN AND INVESTIGATE TOXIC TANKER. Our activists have blocked the toxic ship Probo Koala in the harbour of Paldiski, Estonia and branded it an 'EU Toxic Crime Scene.' The Probo Koala dumped toxic waste in Abidjan, in the Ivory Coast, killing seven people and causing mass panic, with 44,000 people seeking medical assistance.
The Probo Koala: Toxic crime scene. Why is this ship still free after killing and sickening people in the Ivory Coast?
While the relevant authorities have dithered and allowed the ship to sail on unhindered we have taken action:
At 17.00 local time, the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise moved slowly towards the poison ship. Bearing a banner warning that "Toxic Trade Kills" the Arctic Sunrise dropped anchor at 18.00 local time, some 100 metres away, effectively barring the ship from leaving port.
Our demands: Estonia should impound the ship. The European Commission, acting for the European Union, should ensure that the ship is held until a full criminal investigation is carried out and those responsible for the illegal waste export, and ensuing deaths, are brought to justice.
Update Toxic Death Ship Protest
"It is unbelievable that after killing seven people and poisoning thousands more that this ship has been allowed to continue to sail unhindered by the authorities," said Helen Perivier, Greenpeace International Toxic Campaigner, "A 'business as usual' regulatory approach cannot be trusted to control this vessel. Unless the ship, its owners and the charter company are held accountable, there is nothing to prevent them from continuing with their deadly business."
The scandal of the toxic waste dumped in the Ivory Coast first came to light on September 6 when the first casualties were reported and protests broke out on the streets of Abidjan against the government, which was blamed for allowing the dumping.
There is no doubt that the wastes are deadly. Four of the six dead are children and 23 people have required hospital treatment so far. The fact that the toxic waste was dumped openly on the streets of a city is shocking enough. The fact that the waste was delivered by a ship chartered by Trafigura LTD (controlled by Dutch firm Trafigura Beheer BV), who claimed they thought the waste would be 'properly treated' in a poor African nation raises serious questions about why they sent it to Africa. The fact that international law may have been broken calls to question why the international community creates laws when such deadly incidents still occur today.
"The ship must be investigated, checked for further toxic cargo and detained until the full chain of responsibility for this deadly disaster is revealed and the guilty are prosecuted," said Jacob Hartman, Toxics campaigner, Greenpeace in Paldiski. "The Probo Koala has shown that the international regime for protection against toxic waste is inadequate. It is imperative that lessons are learned from this deadly tragedy; there can be no cover up, and this must never be permitted to happen again."