Côte d'Ivoire: Toxic waste: None of the dumping sites showed contamination exceeding the limits set by the Government for remediation says UN Environment audit

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Article
31 January 2018

Côte d’Ivoire: Communities at centre of toxic waste dump need answers

Author: Amnesty International

Eleven years after 540,000 litres of toxic waste were dumped in Côte d’Ivoire’s economic capital Abidjan, victims are still in the dark about the potential long-term impacts on their health, Amnesty International said today, following the publication of a long-awaited report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). More than 100,000 people sought medical assistance, after a local company hired by the commodities giant Trafigura dumped toxic waste at various sites around Abidjan in August 2006. Reported symptoms included breathing difficulties and burning skin, and to this day people complain of serious health issues they believe are related to the incident, including skin and eye problems...Despite this, the Côte d’Ivoire government has never monitored the victims to check for long-term health effects. UNEP’s report, which was commissioned by the government and follows an environmental audit of 17 sites affected by the dumping, has strongly recommended that the Côte d’Ivoire government carry out a representative health study of affected individuals, and consider the need for long-term health monitoring. “The victims of this disaster have been abandoned to live under a cloud of fear and uncertainty for more than a decade. It’s absolutely unacceptable that, so many years on, they remain in the dark about the potential long-term health impacts,” said Lucy Graham, Researcher on Business and Human Rights at Amnesty International. “UNEP’s call for a health assessment vindicates long-standing appeals by local communities for government action. The Côte d’Ivoire government took a key step forward by commissioning UNEP’s report, but it now needs to follow through on the report’s recommendations. The people of Abidjan have waited in fear for long enough.” At the Côte d’Ivoire government’s request, UNEP and the World Health Organization (WHO) will organize a meeting of public health experts in March to analyse the health impacts of the dumping and consider the need for long-term health monitoring for the victims. Amnesty International has called for health monitoring for a number of years and has compiled a list of recommendations on health studies and monitoring for the meeting of public health experts. The organization is calling on the Côte d’Ivoire government to establish a medical study to assess any long-term impacts of the dumping on health, and to implement a plan for long-term health monitoring of affected individuals. Amnesty International is also calling on the Dutch government to provide funding for this work because, six weeks before the waste was dumped in Abidjan, Dutch authorities allowed Trafigura to export the waste from Amsterdam despite knowing it was hazardous and required specialist treatment...UNEP’s report, which is the first independent assessment of the success of these operations, found that pollution levels did not exceed national or international standards requiring further clean-up. However, UNEP notes that this does not preclude the possibility that the community is still affected by health impacts from exposure to the toxic waste in 2006. “While these findings will be a relief to those living or working near the dumpsites, they are just the tip of the iceberg. People in Abidjan have waited for ten years to know if these areas are safe – and there is still so much that they do not know,” said Lucy Graham. “We welcome the answers provided by UNEP’s report, but many questions remain. What exactly was in the toxic waste dumped in Abidjan? What are the health implications of the dumping and lengthy clean-up operations? Only when affected communities have the full picture will they truly be able to move on with their lives.”

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Report
30 January 2018

Côte d'Ivoire: A Toxic Legacy: The case for a Medical Study of the Long-Term Health Impacts of the Trafigura Toxic Waste Dumping

Author: Amnesty International

On 20 August 2006, the people of Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire woke to find that foul-smelling, toxic waste had been dumped at multiple locations across their city. The smell engulfed Abidjan. In the days and weeks that followed the dumping, thousands of people streamed into the city’s medical facilities, complaining of nausea, headaches, breathing difficulties, stinging eyes and burning skin. By the end of October 2006, more than 100,000 people had been treated according to official records. The authorities reported that between 15 and 17 people died. The dumpsites required extensive clean-up and decontamination. To this day people in Abidjan live in fear of the longterm impacts of the dumping on their health and the health of their children, for two simple reasons – a lack of action and a lack of information. No one has ever checked up on or monitored the health of affected communities, or fully assessed any longterm health risks of exposure to the chemicals in the toxic waste...Eleven years on, we finally have an opportunity to address the toxic legacy of this disaster. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) will shortly release the results of their July 2016 environmental audit of the various dumpsites, undertaken at the request of the Côte d’Ivoire government. This is an important first ste pin helping to address people’s fears about ongoing contamination at the dumpsites..Affected communities, Amnesty International and United Nations experts have consistently called on the Côte d’Ivoire government to take this step. At the Côte d’Ivoire government’s request, UNEP and the World Health Organization (WHO) have now organised a meeting of public health experts to analyse information on the health impacts of the dumping and to consider the need for a long-term health study. This briefing makes the health and human rights
case for that study. It summarizes the story of this disaster, how it affected people’s health and their environment, and the impact it has on the people of Abidjan to this day. It outlines how the dumping violated the right to health of the people of Abidjan and why relevant governments still have an obligation to remedy that violation. It also makes recommendations on what the study could involve, how it could be implemented and how any long-term health impacts could be monitored and addressed.

 

 

 

 

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Report
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Author: Amnesty International

Le 20 août 2006, les habitants d’Abidjan, en Côte d'Ivoire, ont découvert en se réveillant que des déchets toxiques nauséabonds avaient été déversés en plusieurs lieux de la ville...Dans les jours et les semaines qui ont suivi le déversement, les centres médicaux de la ville ont été submergés par des milliers de personnes se plaignant de nausées, de maux de tête, de difficultés respiratoires, d’irritations oculaires et cutanées. Fin octobre 2006, d’après les chiffres officiels plus de 100 000 personnes avaient été traitées. Selon les autorités, entre 15 et 17 personnes sont décédées. Des opérations de nettoyage et de décontamination de grande ampleur ont été requises dans les sites de déversement. Les habitants d’Abidjan continuent à ce jour à vivre dans la peur des répercussions à long terme du déversement sur leur santé et sur la santé de leurs enfants pour deux raisons simples : l’inaction et le manque d’information. Personne n'a jamais effectué de suivi médical ou de contrôle de l’état de santé des populations affectées, ni évalué pleinement les risques potentiels à long terme dus à l’exposition aux substances chimiques contenues dans les déchets toxiques...Onze ans après, nous avons enfin l’occasion de nous attaquer à l’héritage toxique de cette catastrophe...Un autre pas tout aussi important...est l’identification des répercussions sanitaires éventuelles à long terme et leur prise encharge. Les populations touchées, Amnesty International et les experts des Nations unies n’ont cessé de demander au gouvernement de Côte d’Ivoire de faire cette démarche. À la demande du gouvernement ivoirien, le PNUE et l’Organisation mondiale de la santé (OMS) ont maintenant organisé une réunion d’experts en santé publique pour analyser les informations sur les répercussions sanitaires du déversement et pour examiner la nécessité d’une étude sanitaire à long terme. Se basant sur des arguments en matière de santé et dedroits humains, le présent document plaide en faveur de la conduite d’une telle étude. Il résume l’histoire de cette catastrophe, comment elle a affecté la santé de la population et son environnement et l’impact qu’elle a jusqu’à ce jour sur les habitants d’Abidjan. Il souligne comment le déversement a porté atteinte au droit à la santé des habitants d’Abidjan et pourquoi les gouvernements concernés ont toujours l’obligation de réparer ces atteintes. Il formule également desrecommandations sur le contenu potentiel de cette étude, comment elle pourrait être mise en oeuvre et comment les impacts sanitaires éventuels à long terme pourraient être contrôlés et traités.

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Article
30 January 2018

Environmental audit of the sites affected by the dumping of toxic wastes from the “Probo Koala”

Author: UN Environment

At the request of the Government of Côte d'Ivoire, UN Environment carried out an independent scientific environmental audit of the sites in and around Abidjan that were affected by the dumping of toxic wastes from the “Probo Koala” ship in 2006. The objective was to determine if these sites continued to pose risks to the environment or to public health, and to make recommendations about additional or corrective clean-up measures that would be needed in case contamination was detected. A UN Environment team of four international experts was deployed to Abidjan in July 2016 to undertake sampling of soil, water, air, sediment, molluscs, fruit and vegetables at 18 sites considered to have been affected by the dumping of toxic wastes, as well as at three control sites.UN Environment deployed teams of international experts to Abidjan in July 2016 and January 2017 to undertake sampling of soil, water, air, sediment, molluscs, fruit and vegetables at 18 sites considered to have been affected by the dumping of toxic wastes, as well as at three control sites. In total, 130 samples were collected and analyzed in internationally accredited laboratories. The full report of this audit presents the results of the laboratory analysis and the conclusions that can be drawn from them. It also provides a series of targeted recommendations to the Government of Côte d’Ivoire.

 

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Report
30 January 2018

Environmental audit of the sites affected by the dumping of toxic wastes from the “Probo Koala”

Author: Amnesty International

The main objective of this environmental audit, based on the request of Government of Côte d’Ivoire, as to undertake an independent and scientific environmental audit of the sites that were impacted by the dumping of toxic wastes from the Probo Koala, in order to verify if these continued to pose any environmental or public health risks...The results of the laboratory analysis that was undertaken on the 130 samples of soil, water, air, sediment, molluscs, fruit and vegetables that were collected by UN Environment, which are presented in Chapters 3 and 4 of this report, clearly indicate the following for the different types of sites affected by the dumping of toxic wastes from the Probo Koala: None of the sites where wastes from the Probo Koala were actually dumped show contamination exceeding the limits set by the Government of Côte d’Ivoire for remediation. As a result, none of these sites require additional intervention, even when gauged against Dutch intervention values, which are among the most commonly used guidelines for contaminated site management and remediation worldwide...Based on the conclusions above, the following specific recommendations can be made to the Government of Côte d’Ivoire: Remediation of the Agboville maize composting site: As two rounds of sampling have indicated that the site has elevated levels of chromium and that chromium is leaching into the drainage collection system, this site should be closely monitored. Access to the site should continue to be restricted, and sign boards should be put up warning people not to enter or harvest grass or vegetables from the site. Leachate from this site should be appropriately disposed of in a dedicated facility following comprehensive chemical analyses...Due diligence needed for decommissioning of Akouédo municipal waste disposal site:

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Item
30 January 2018

UN Environment releases independent audit of sites affected by toxic waste dump in Côte d'Ivoire

Author: UN Environment

None of the sites tarnished by the dumping of toxic waste from the Probo Koala in 2006 is currently showing contamination exceeding the limits set by the government of Côte d’Ivoire, research conducted by UN Environment has found. The audit of 18 sites impacted by the toxic wastes was executed by UN Environment at the request of the Ivorian authorities. The Government sought UN Environment’s assistance in undertaking an independent and scientific environmental audit of the sites that were affected by the dumping of wastes from the Probo Koala. The key contaminants of interest were petroleum hydrocarbons, sulfur compounds and heavy metals. The audit also assessed the impact of high sodium hydroxide on the soil. “It is reassuring to see that with early intervention and enough political will, a disaster like the chemical contamination incident in Côte d’Ivoire can be mitigated over time,” UN Environment Deputy Executive Director Ibrahim Thiaw said. “This independent and scientific environmental audit of the sites gives us access to a vault of best practices and pitfalls of the disaster response, and allows us to learn from a tragedy like this.” On 19 August 2006 the Probo Koala, chartered by shipping firm Trafigura, offloaded 528 cubic metres of liquid waste in the port of Abidjan. The waste was then transferred onto tanker trucks operated by a local contractor and dumped in 12 different locations around Abidjan. Hours after the dumping, residents reported being overwhelmed by a strong smell and experiencing detrimental health effects such as respiratory difficulties and skin irritations... In the weeks immediately following the dumping more than 100,000 people sought medical assistance from public health facilities. The first phase of clean-up began in September 2006 and saw the sites excavated and the excavated material shipped to France for incineration. In the following years several further clean-up and remediation activities were conducted by various actors including the Ivorian government. In July 2016 four UN Environment experts were deployed to sample soil, water, air, sediment, molluscs, fruit and vegetables at 18 sites considered to have been affected by the dumping. In January 2017, UN environment conducted a follow-up mission to carry out complementary sampling and to fill specific analytical gaps and to corroborate initial findings from the laboratory analysis. In both missions, the UN experts were joined in the field by three experts from the Ivorian Anti-Pollution Center (CIAPOL). Key findings : None of the dumping sites showed contamination exceeding the limits set by the Government of Côte d’Ivoire for remediation. As a result, none of these sites requires additional intervention, even when gauged against Dutch intervention values, which are among the most commonly used guidelines for contaminated site management and remediation worldwide; Some dumping sites presented other types of contamination - elevated levels of air and groundwater pollution were identified in Koumassi, for example; Elevated levels of chromium were observed in soil and water at the site in Agboville where maize that was potentially, and indirectly, impacted by the Probo Koala wastes was composted. Recommendations include... UN Environment recommends further assessment and close monitoring of the Agboville site and the continuation of restrictions imposed on public access to the facility, as well as the erection of signs to warn the public against harvesting grass or vegetables from the premises.

 

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