Dutch capital to be put on trial over ICoast waste dump

11 March 2010
Agence France Presse

The city of Amsterdam is to be prosecuted over the dumping of toxic waste by a ship in Ivory Coast in 2006, the Supreme Court has ruled in a decision made available Wednesday. "The Supreme Court refers the case back to the Amsterdam district court ... to be considered anew," said the judgment, overturning earlier decisions to dismiss the case against the city.

In August 2006, the Probo Koala ship, chartered by Swiss-based multinational oil trading firm Trafigura, dumped caustic soda and petroleum residues on city waste tips in Abidjan, having been prevented from offloading in Amsterdam. Dutch prosecutors had sought to hold the city responsible for "ridding itself" of dangerous waste being offloaded from the Probo Koala in Amsterdam -- by ordering that it be pumped back into the ship to be taken elsewhere.

A United Nations report published last September found "strong" evidence linking at least 15 deaths and several hospitalisations to pollution from the ship. Trafigura and the ship captain are being investigated in the Netherlands for allegedly breaching local laws governing waste export.

Trafigura has already paid 100 billion CFA francs (152 million euros, 208 million dollars) in damages to victims of the toxic poisoning in an out-of-court deal with the government of the Ivory Coast that exempts it from legal proceedings in that country. The company has always denied any link between the waste and any deaths or serious illnesses in the Ivory Coast.

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