Greenpeace brands Toxic ship Probo Koala an EU Crime Scene and calls for it to be detained by Estonian port authorities.

Press release - 25 September, 2006
Activists from Greenpeace today blocked the toxic ship Probo Koala in the harbour of Paldiski, Estonia and branded it an 'EU Toxic Crime Scene.' Over a month ago, 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.

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.

At 17.00 local time, the Greenpeace ship MY Arctic Sunrise moved slowly towards the poison ship the Probo Koala to block any chance of it departing from the port. Bearing a banner warning that "Toxic Trade Kills" the Arctic Sunrise dropped anchor at 18.00 local time, some 100 meteres away, effectively barring the ship from leaving port.

"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."

Greenpeace is demanding that Estonia impounds the ship and that the European Commission, acting for the European Union, ensures 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. The Commission must denounce the crime to public prosecutors in the Member States to ensure full criminal investigation. Further, the Commission should engage the European Union law enforcement organisation EUROPOL to coordinate member states' activities in order to prevent the ship, its captain, owners and operators escaping prosecution.

"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."

Other contacts: Mike Townsley, Greenpeace International Communications, in Amsterdam, (m)+31 621 296 918 Helen Perivier, Greenpeace International Toxics Campaign, in Amsterdam, (m)+32 2 534 9906 Jan Isakson, Greenpeace Communications, on board the Arctic Sunrise in Estonia, (m)+46706087483 Jacob Hartmann, Greenpeace Toxics Campaign in Estonia, on land, (m)+4528109020

VVPR info: For stills and video of the action and Probo Koala please call Greenpeace International Photo Desk +31653819255 Greenpeace International Video Desk +31646166309

Notes: 1) The MV Probo Koala, operates under the Panamanian flag. It is registered owner is "Celtic Legend Shipping Inc." of Norway. While the "beneficial owner" (and manager and operator) is Prime Marine Management, of Athens, Greece. The Probo Koala was chartered by Trafigura LTD, a subsidiary of the NL trading company Trafigura Beheer BV (the parent company of the 55 trading companies operated by Trafigura). Probo Koala's agent in Abidjan is WAIB-CL, and there was an intermediate company, between Trafigura LTD and WAIB-CL, called "Societe Tommy". Tommy was the entity that actually "disposed" of the hundreds of metric tonnes of toxic waste throughout and around the city of Abidjan. The role of Puma Energy (100% owned by Trafigura based in Amstelveen, NL and controlled from Trafigura's Lucerne, Switzerland offices) remains unclear, as does its association with the company, "Tommy" and WAIB-CL, though the Ivorian authorities have arrested those directing each of WAIB-CL, Tommy and Puma Energy. Puma Energy has a local office in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire. 2) On July 2, the Probo Koala was in Amsterdam where the chartering company of the ship, Trafigura, declined paying higher costs to offload and treat waste that it claimed were residues from routine tank washing operations. Despite having noticed the unusual properties of the waste, Dutch authorities allowed the ship to sail unimpeded. Paldiski, Estonia is the last known port of call made by the Probo Koala before arriving in Abidjan. 3) Under EU law, exports of hazardous wastes from the EU to non-OECD countries are strictly prohibited. Under the Basel Convention the responsibility for the dumping of wastes in Abidjan should be tied to the generator of the hazardous wastes; the exporter of the wastes (charterer Trafigura) or to the country of export. 4)Europol is the European Law Enforcement Organisation which exists to improve the effectiveness and co-operation of the competent authorities in the Member States in preventing and combating terrorism, unlawful drug trafficking and other serious forms of international organised crime.