Friday, September 18, 2009

Ivory Coast deal is 'not enough'

A group of Ivory Coast residents who were victims of dumped toxic waste have said a compensation deal offered by a London-based oil firm is not enough.

Trafigura has said it is close to agreeing compensation to settle a case against it by 30,000 claimants. Under the deal, the company would pay an undisclosed sum to those who suffered less serious illnesses. On Wednesday, the UN published a report suggesting a strong link between 15 deaths and the toxic waste dumps.

The oil trading company has always insisted that it was not responsible for the dumping of the waste as this was carried out by a sub-contractor. It also denies that the waste - gasoline residues mixed with caustic washings - could have led to the serious illnesses the residents claim, which include skin burns, bleeding and breathing problems.


The head of Ivory Coast's National Federation of Victims of Toxic Waste has told the BBC that although the deal represents a good start, it does not go far enough. “ Trafigura always sought to comply with the laws and regulations of the jurisdictions in which it operates ” "This decision needs to be enlarged to take in all the people affected and also secure the cleaning-up of all the intoxicated sites, and as well and above all, a health centre to look after the victims," Denis Titira Yao said. Some estimates put the number of those affected by exposure to the waste at closer to 100,000 people. Thousands became ill after coming into contact with the waste, which was dumped in 15 open sites around the city of Abidjan in August 2006.

The UN report suggesting that there was a strong link between the reported deaths of at least 15 Ivory Coast residents and the toxic waste dumps has been dismissed by Trafigura. "We are appalled at the basic lack of balance and analytical rigour reflected in the report," the firm said in a statement, adding that its conclusions were "premature" and "inaccurate".

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