Cameroon: watch out for Dutch poison ship

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The Cameroonian minister of the environment has warned that a Dutch ship sailing off the coast of West Africa may be planning to dump toxic waste on the mainland. He is calling on the authorities and population of his West African country to report "all the ship's suspicious movements".

The container ship, the - owned by Maersk Benelux BV - hit the news in April when Nigeria embargoed it for wanting to bring ashore a container of toxic waste. The captain was told that the container must remain on board and be transported back to Rotterdam, the Dutch port where it had been loaded. According to the freight papers, the container held - in part - a scrapped automobile and discarded electronics.

Nobody was available at Maersk Benelux BV to respond to the Cameroonian warning, or to confirm that the warning was indeed for a Dutch ship.

In July 2006, the , a ship loaded with chemicals arrived at the port of Amsterdam to offload caustic soda and petroleum wastage for treatment. The Amsterdam Port Services refused to treat the waste at the price agreed, saying that it turned out to be far more toxic than had been assumed. The ship then sailed from the Dutch capital to the West African country of Ivory Coast, where the waste was dumped on tips in populated areas in and around the city of Abidjan. Seventeen people in the city later died, while thousands of others became ill. In 2010, Trafigura, the company that had chartered the ship, was fined one million euros for illegally exporting toxic waste.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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