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Africa

Trafigura to offer compensation in toxic waste affair

©

Video by Aurore Cloe DUPUIS , Norbert NAVARRO

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-09-20

Commodities trader Trafigura is set to offer compensation to 31,000 people in a case of toxic waste dumping in the Ivory Coast. According to a UN report, waste dumped around the city of Abidjan in 2006 has led to death of at least 15 people.

REUTERS - International commodities trader Trafigura is close to offering compensation to 31,000 people who said they became ill from toxic waste dumped around the Ivorian economic capital of Abidjan, the firm and claimants said.

Trafigura Beheer BV and British law firm Leigh Day & Co, which is representing claimants, said in a joint statement late on Wednesday they were in settlement talks, but did not mention a figure.

“It currently appears that this settlement is likely to be acceptable to most, if not all, of the claimants,” Trafigura and Leigh Day & Co said. The class action was scheduled to be heard in an English court in London next month.

In the statement, Trafigura said it “has always denied and continues to deny any liability for events that occurred in the Ivory Coast”.

An Ivorian group said the compensation offer did not go far enough.

“Now they are talking about over 30,000 victims. But for us there are more than that. We also need a long-term resolution because there is still waste in Abidjan that has not been removed and there are zones that still need cleaning up,” Denis Titira Yao, president of the National Federation of Victims of Toxic Waste, told Reuters in Abidjan.

Trafigura, one of the world’s biggest commodities traders in oil and metals, is based in the Netherlands but also has significant operations in London.

In 2006, Trafigura hired a contractor to dispose of slops from a ship, the Probo Koala, chartered by the company. The petrochemical waste, described by Trafigura as residues from gasoline mixed with caustic washings, was left on open sites around Abidjan, the Ivory Coast’s largest city.

Evidence shows at least 15 people died and thousands were sickened by toxic waste, according to a United Nations report released on Wednesday.

“We still don’t know—and we may never know—the full effect of the dumping” of the wastes, Okechukwu Ibeanu, an independent human rights expert for the United Nations, said.

“But there seems to be strong prima facie evidence that the reported deaths and adverse health consequences are related to the dumping of the waste” from the Probo Koala, Ibeanu added in a report.

Some 31,000 people from Ivory Coast have been seeking tens of millions of dollars in compensation from Trafigura for illnesses they say they suffered.

Trafigura agreed to a $198 million out-of-court settlement with the Ivory Coast government in 2007 which exempts it from legal proceedings in the West African country.

Date created : 2009-09-17

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