Dutch oil firm, Trafigura alleged of dumping toxic waste in The Ivory Coast is facing prosecution in The Netherlands. Prosecutors said Trafigura had broken Dutch export and environmental laws and also forged documents.
In 2006, over 30,000 Ivorian allegedly suffered from high levels of poisonous gas from lethal toxic waste dumped by Trafigura which claimed about twenty lives and left some 108,000 others with worsening health conditions.
The company is believed to have rejected warnings of how hazardous the waste could be if not legally dispatched and avoided paying huge fee for safely disposing it in Europe according to European standard, preferring to dump it in Africa using the Probo Koala vessel which dumped it in Abidjan waste tips.
At yesterday’s court hearing, the oil company denied all the charges and claimed those allegations were unfounded. The charges, Trafigura lawyer, Aldo Verbruggen, said, were based on “unfounded moral judgement”
“Trafigura is a company that takes responsible entrepreneurship very seriously,” he said.
Trafigura had tried an out of court settlement for the victims of the toxic disaster, offering more than 35million Euros to the plaintiffs after investigation revealed that the health impact wouldn’t have been severe as previously thought.
But a United Nations finding last September revealed “strong” evidence, blaming the death of at least fifteen people on the waste. Presiding judge, Frans Bauduin, says he’d like to talk to the ship’s Ukrainian captain, Sergiy Chertov and an employee of Trafigura, Naeem Ahmed who are at the heart of the saga and were absent at Tuesday’s trial.
“I understand he is at sea,” said Judge Frans Bauduin of the captain, adding: “We have tried to contact him by email.”
Prosecutor, Luuk Boogert said the oil company had behaved irresponsibly because of cheap option that would eventually earn it millions without considering its risk on vulnerable people.
“Cheap but with big risks for public health and the environment, the waste is thrown over the fence, dumped in a third world country. The company saves 400,000 Euros,” said public prosecutor Boogert.
Trafigura faces a fine of 1.34million Euros if found guilty. Sergiy Chertoy, the ship captain and Naeem Ahmed Trafigura employee also face a fine of more than 100million Euros or get 21 years in jail.
The trial continues.