Public prosecutor demands 2m in toxic waste case

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The Dutch public prosecutor demanded on Thursday that oil trading company Trafigura pay a two-million-euro fine in an appeal case involving the illegal export of toxic waste to Ivory Coast in 2006.

Thousands of people were allegedly injured as a result. Local media claimed the deaths of 17 Ivorians could be directly attributed to the toxic dump.

Last year, the Dutch-owned multinational was fined one million euros for dumping illegal chemical residues on board the Probo Koala on city waste tips in Abidjan. Both Trafigura – which denies any wrongdoing - and the prosecution appealed the ruling.

Dump in Abidjan cheaper Initially, Trafigura tried to clean up its low-grade oil cargo by tipping caustic soda into the hold of the Probo Koala and trying to unload the waste in Amsterdam for treatment.

When the treatment company, APS, presented the oil company with a higher price for cleaning the waste, the cargo was shipped to Africa where it ended up in Abidjan to be handled at a much lower rate.

Conflicting evidence A United Nations report published in September 2009, found "strong" evidence blaming the waste for at least 15 deaths and several hospitalisations. Trafigura reached out of court settlements for 33 million euros and 152 million euros in Britain and Ivory Coast that exempted it from legal proceedings in those countries.

The Trafigura appeal began on Monday in an Amsterdam court. The company refutes any link between the waste and subsequent deaths and has an independent experts' report backing its stance.


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