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15 Sep 2009

Christopher Thompson, Financial Times

Trafigura faces UN toxic waste challenge

A United Nations investigation into toxic waste dumping in the Ivory Coast has challenged a key defence plank of the commodities trader Trafigura, which is facing the UK’s biggest class-action suit next month in London. More than 20,000 Ivoriens are suing Trafigura in the High Court for damages after one of its ships, the Probo Koala, allegedly offloaded toxic “slops” in the west African port of Abidjan in August 2006 to a local company which dumped it in open-air sites. A health crisis ensued in which, according to official estimates, 15 people died and more than 100,000 sought medical attention... The unedited report seen by the Financial Times – written by Okechukwu Ibeanu, the UN special rapporteur for toxic waste –...concludes that there is ”strong prima facie evidence that the reported deaths and adverse health consequences are related to the dumping of the waste from the Probo Koala”. Trafigura said that in spite of offers of information to the rapporteur, the “flawed” report contains “premature, inaccurate and potentially damaging conclusions that are unsupported by verifiable evidence”. [also refers to Tommy Ltd]