Call for a waste charter

12 Sep 2006

We hope that so far as it is technically possible and to avoid all further sanitary problems and concerns amongst the Abidjan populations, the wastes spread over more than 10 sites around the capital of the Ivory Coast one month ago will be aggregated, condensed, packaged, and sent to Europe for treatment. It is simply disgraceful that no initiative to this effect has yet been formulated or undertaken by ship owners, charterers, or, in their absence, European political authorities. Beyond the controversy of the potential complicities in the Ivory Coast, it is evident that the volition and the act of spreading these toxic wastes in a country in which the elimination procedures are nearly nonexistent constitute a crime.

If this return operation is possible—assuming that the wastes will still be locatable and not dissipated or diluted—we hope that Europe’s reception of the waste carrying ship will be better than that given to the Karin B. Leaving Nigeria’s port Koko at the end of July 1988 with 2.8 tons of toxic waste of miscellaneous origin which had been exported from Italy the previous year, the Karin B was refused by the Netherlands, France, England, Belgium, and Spain. Yet these wastes—painting and carbolic acid residues—were storable and treatable in several specialized European facilities. The fear of this cargo in Europe prohibited its landing and was accompanied by a vast cry of humanitarian indignation concerning the exportation of toxic wastes across Africa. Finally, after 8 weeks of wandering, the Karin B and her crew were received by the Italian port of Livourne by express government decision and despite demonstrations of hostility.

20 years after the Karin B scandal, we hope that Europe demands and accepts the return of wastes which were, in August 2006, unduly dumped in Abidjan.


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