16 December 2009

Carter Ruck and Trafigura: Dirty Tricks and Toxic Waste in the Ivory Coast



The video below presents the BBC Newsnight report 'Dirty Tricks and Toxic Waste in the Ivory Coast' on the toxic-waste dumping of commodities by giant Trafigura. According to a September 2009 UN report, the dumping drove 108,000 people in the Ivory Coast to seek medical attention.

Trafigura and their lawyers Carter Ruck had been pursuing an ongoing libel case against the BBC over this report since it was aired in May 2009. Trafigura and Carter Ruck have become notorious for their willingness to use the UK's repressive media laws to suppress legitimate criticism and comment.

A number of other UK media [Guardian Newspaper, Times..] have already been bullied into censoring stories about this case, but until now the BBC had stood firm. Unfortunately it appears that even the UK's world-renowned public service broadcaster has now been muzzled by a rich corporation seeking to use the law to cover up the truth about its activities The report was removed from the BBC websites on December 10th or 11th, along with an article, that you can read bellow on the matter.



Dirty Tricks and Toxic Waste in the Ivory Coast
13 May 2009
By Meirion Jones and Liz MacKean BBC Newsnight


«There were women who miscarried, and that was very painful. But still, the worst was that three people, two adults and a girl were killed by the toxic wastes.That was very hard.» Esaie Modto, head of Djibli village

It is the biggest toxic dumping scandal of the 21st century, the type of environmental vandalism that international treaties are supposed to prevent. Now Newsnight can reveal the truth about the waste that was illegally tipped on Ivory Coast's biggest city, Abidjan. A giant multinational is being sued in London's High Court by thousands of Africans who claim they were injured as a result.

The truth behind Ivory Coast toxic waste dump

Our investigation took us to Amsterdam where the waste could have been safely disposed of. Instead the company, Trafigura, went for the cheaper option and offloaded it in Abidjan.

Trafigura has always denied that the chemical waste was dangerous, but we have seen an analysis by the Dutch authorities which reveal it to be lethal.

We consulted a leading toxicologist, John Hoskins from the Royal Society of Chemistry. He said it would bring a major city to its knees.

The waste includes tons of phenols which can cause death by contact, tons of hydrogen sulphide, lethal if inhaled in high concentrations, and vast quantities of corrosive caustic soda and mercaptans which John Hoskins describes as "the most odorous compounds ever produced".

A terrible smell

It happened on 19 August 2006 in the dead of night. A convoy of trucks from a newly-formed company in Abidjan arrived to take the waste away. They illegally dumped the first loads at the huge tip in Aquedo.

A powerful stench soon engulfed the area. The tip's operators were called out and the drivers sent packing. They looked elsewhere to drop the waste, tipping it in at least 18 places across the city and beyond.

The Aquedo tip stretches as far as the eye can see. As scores of waste trucks tip their loads, an army of Abidjanis cluster around, children amongst them, brandishing long metal spikes. They pick through the rubbish, looking for anything that can be sold.

Deaths

We were soon surrounded by people, only too willing to talk about the night the toxic waste was dumped and the terrible smell that made them gag and sicken.

There were women who miscarried, and that was very painful. But still, the worst was that three people, two adults and a girl were killed by the toxic wastes. That was very hard Esaie Modto, head of Djibli village

Just round the corner from the dump, we met Jean Francois Kouadio and his wife, Fidel.

She had been eight months pregnant with their first child when the fumes swamped their home. Fidel gave birth prematurely and the boy, Jean Claude, died within a day.

Their second child Ama Grace was born a year later. She too fell ill.

The doctors said that Ama Grace "was suffering from acute glycaemia caused by the toxic wastes".

They could do nothing for her and she died.

The medical reports state a "strong presumption" that the deaths of the two children were caused by exposure to the toxic waste and Jean Francois and Fidel now fear they will never become parents.

Polluted water

We also visited the village of Djibi, just outside Abidjan. The waste that was tipped here got into the water supply, killing the fish that fed the village.

A woman whose face is covered in lesions in Abidjan (September 2008) Thousands of people say they were victims of the waste

The head of Djibi, Esaie Modto, told us that every last person here fell ill, two thousand people:

"There were women who miscarried, and that was very painful. But still, the worst was that three people, two adults and a girl were killed by the toxic wastes. That was very hard."

So what was it that brought such ruin on a country that in 2006 was still struggling to recover from a civil war?

The waste was generated as the result of an oil deal spanning three continents. Trafigura bought a consignment of cheap and dirty heavy oil with a high sulphur content. Instead of putting it through a refinery, Trafigura tried to clean it up, using a do-it-yourself method, so they could sell it on at a massive profit.

They used a ship called the Probo Koala which they stationed off Gibraltar as a rough and ready refinery. Caustic soda and a catalyst were added to the oil which reacted with the sulphur and settled to the bottom of the tank. Trafigura were then able to sell the oil, but left with a toxic sludge at the bottom of the tank.

"Smelly but not dangerous"

The Probo Koala went to Amsterdam where they attempted to unload this sulphurous tar as if it were normal ships' waste, which would have cost a few thousand euros.

However the fumes were so bad, the emergency services were called and the Dutch authorities carried out tests. They discovered the waste was highly toxic and told Trafigura that it would cost half a million euros to dispose of safely.

The Probo Koala instead pumped the waste back on board and left port, ending up in West Africa.

Marietta Harjono of Greenpeace Nederland says this has led to a prosecution by the Dutch authorities for "falsification of papers - they deliberately were silent on the toxic nature of the waste", as well as for illegal import of toxic waste and "illegal export of toxic waste from Europe to Cote d'Ivoire".

When Newsnight first investigated the toxic dumping scandal in 2007 one of Trafigura's founders Eric de Turckheim told Jeremy Paxman "these materials were not dangerous for human beings. It was smelly, but not dangerous."

Newsnight's new investigation shows this was far from the case. Trafigura continues to deny any wrongdoing.

Censored Newsnight Story PDF

Related:

Trafigura Statement

How the Trafigura story unfolded - in the Guardian

A year of gagging - on Index on Cernsorship


Calling all bloggers – Help beat the gag on the BBC

BBC Caves in to Carter Ruck Threats Over Trafigura Film

BBC Newsnight's "Dirty tricks and toxic waste in Ivory Coast", 15min video, 13 May 2009

BBC deletes important story on toxic waste dumping in the Ivory Coast after legal threats, 12 Dec 2009

Updated secret gag on UK Times preventing publication of Minton report into toxic waste dumping, 16 Oct 2009

Minton report secret injunction gagging The Guardian on Trafigura, 11 Sep 2009

Minton report: Trafigura toxic dumping along the Ivory Coast broke EU regulations, 14 Sep 2006

Watch as well - The chilling effect of British libel laws on press freedom worldwide.:





25 comments:

  1. What a shocking story.

    Carter Ruck, apparently willing to sue anybody no matter how unethical. No wonder the McCanns chose them, they sound like they will go along with anything is the money is right. No questions asked.

    Let's hope they are all brought down together and the truth exposed.

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  2. Joana
    I wonder whether we could express our solidarity with Portugal by wearing a red carnation; perhaps with some variation, to show how British citizens feel about their media being gagged. If the McCann's have done nothing else, they have shown our country up for what it is. We can't criticise human rights abuses in China and Russia when this is what we have come to. Your site is an invaluable source of information. Good on you!

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  3. These people have been murdered . Carter Ruck are condoning what has happened to them by defending Trafigura . Why all the gagging , it's scary . I fear for the future of the ordinary populace of the earth .Carter Ruck are nothing more than gangsters . We must make load noises to let our governments know that we , the people , are aware that our Human Rights are being aroded .

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  4. Tell your friends where to look to find this information. A lot of people I know are horrified by what is going on and how intimidated our journalists are.

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  5. I suggest a carnation with a black ribbon, to signify the gag and the death of democracy. We could recognise those who share our concerns.

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  6. Following my post at 5, could I just check with Joana whether anyone in Portugal who supports the fight for democracy would take exception to me appropriating this symbol?

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  7. It is the judges who are imposing the gagging who ought to be given the red carnations.

    They are a disgrace.

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  8. Is Carter Ruck's acting for the McCanns being paid for by Kennedy or the Fund?

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  9. The people behind Carter *uck and the McCanns themnselvess have all sold their souls to the devil for money, money, money and more money. I wonder what their relatives and friends really think of them now. Do their relatives/friends despise them behind their backs but have to keep up a "pretence" for the sake of the McCanns twins and the children of those behind Carter *uck.

    The McCanns are no better than the people running Trafigura, they have all ruined peoples lives without giving a damn for nothing more than money and covering their own asses.

    I wonder how many people have crossed them off their Christmas card lists since 2007.

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  10. Let's not forget that both the McCanns and Trafigura not only have Carter Ruck in common but they both also have links to the alleged crook, KEVIN HALLIGEN!

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  11. Does anyone know if the Trafigura scandal is being discussed in Copenhagen. I know the conference deals with climate change but it seems to me with the whole world tuned in, it would be an appropriate time to bring the matter up, subject of course to Carter-Ruck approval.

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  12. Anon 9

    Ive often wondered what the "Friends" think about Gerry and Kate I agree with you that alot of them will have crossed them off their Xmas card list, imo these friends will slowly be seeing exactly what the Mccanns are upto I think certain friends will be biding their time, listening! and watching! waiting for the right time to get their own back somehow, and that will be soon, I bet they are as fed up with them as we are imo !!!

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  13. I agree with post 7 it is the so called judges who willingly give these parasites injunctions no matter what the matter is about. It has got to beg the question of the impartiality of some Judges? Are they paid for and they are used time and time again by such outfits to get injunctions and the like. It makes a mockery of human rights and real natural justice, not even democratic even.

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  14. It can't be long before Carter Ruck rule the entire world.
    Thay HAVE to be stopped.....and soon.
    It is time for a long look at the libel laws in Britain.

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  15. Judges and Carter Ruck barristers know each other. They are part of the same legal profession. They meet socially. They are often friends, or lovers.

    You would think so, the way things are acted out in court. But that is the truth in the UK.

    I have always felt that judging should be a separate profession from lawyering (and both, not just judges, should be prevented from standing for parliament).

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  16. Anon 9

    Carter Ruck are the equivalent of fictional Wolfram & Hart,
    the real life version is a terrifying prospect, Wolfram & Hart are like Santa's little helpers in comparison.

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  17. Well as you all probably know, CR are even trying to gag the british parliament - they still think they can do it according to some law they`ve dragged up and have been telling the Speaker how to do his job. They are ending up the most reviled law firm in britain. If they had their way, we`d end up a police state.
    Louise

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  18. I can't understand how in an old democracy as UK is, Carter ruck is allowed to do what he is doing. and worse he is trying to bully also out of UK. When i was at school,i am Portuguese, i learn in the class of English language about freedom of speech.it was like an" ex libris". What happen now??

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  19. Interesting video Newsnight discussion on Trafigura and super injunctions :-

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKKDWrlRkCM

    Louise

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  20. Robert Maxwell spent much of the latter part of his life issuing writs and getting injunctions against anybody who dared to try and expose him and his companies. Only when he died was the true magnitude of his cover ups and his raiding of his workers pension funds exposed. He never had any trouble getting writs. What has changed in all those years? So when a so called Judge is asked for an injunction does he/she not ask what its about, in this case the knowingly poisoning of the Ivory Coast people? Granting such an injunction is a crime IMO because the Judge knows it is a crime that is being perpetrated and that it is against public interest. So why is it so easy for these corporations to get injunctions in private......MONEY and more MONEY? What is the point then in the democratic process when this sort of skullduggery is allowed to go on in private?

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  21. What are the Greens doing?

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  22. Joana, maybe it would be wise to send these texts above and the video to the judge and prosecuter who will be present on 12,13,14
    January next, in Lisbon.
    They will see that people in the UK don't consider normal such a severe laws.
    A scandal, that is for sure.
    British people need bunchs of red carnations.

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  23. I read somewhere that the McCanns are bringing the twins to Portugal, in January.
    This could be one of the results of having a Portuguese PR.
    Kate showed up in black, in Lisbon and Algarve, wearing a black skirt, very much the Portuguese taste and culture, and now she will show up with the siblings, touching the Portuguese hearts.
    Gerry will probably show up dressed up like the little shepard from Fatima(Francisco?) and both will sing Ave,Ave, Maria, starting already on the plane and continuing singing when walking through the corridors of the airport.
    At the tribunal, they will sing many fados, holding rosaries in their hands while Mitchell will play the guitar.
    I would not be surprised if they would visit Fatima, one day before or one day after their next visit to the tribunal.
    But before they do all these things, they better check on the judge, if he/she by chance didn't convert himself into an Evangelic.

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  24. Joana, speaking about the video, I meant the video about libels, etc in the UK.

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  25. RE Anon 23. Too funny, but very possible.

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