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27 September 2006

Standoff over toxic spill

Greenpeace is still preventing the Probo Koala, the ship allegedly responsible for dumping toxic waste in Abidjan, from leaving the port of Paldiski in Estonia.

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Greenpeace is still preventing the Probo Koala, the ship allegedly responsible for dumping toxic waste in Abidjan, from leaving the port of Paldiski in Estonia. This comes in the face of the port authorities demanding the departure of the NGO.

The environmental organisation is standing firm. “This is a tense situation. The port authorities are asking us to leave, but we are calling on the Estonian government to take over, and to regard the Probo Koala as the main culprit in this affair,” said Yannick Vicaire, the Greenpeace representative in Estonia.

In his view, it is inconceivable that the Probo Koala should be allowed to lift anchor today. “It must be kept in the port. It contains documents which should enable liability to be established and the cargo to be identified, as well as the origin of the toxic waste. And above all it would enable us to find out what made it so toxic.”

Meanwhile, the Ivorian Government is actively backing Greenpeace. The Estonian Minister of the Environment has been requested by Diakite Fatou, who chairs the national Commission in charge of the inquiry, “to do whatever is necessary to immobilise the Probo Koala.”

According to the Dutch newspaper, De Volkskrant, this waste dumped in Abidjan apparently comes from offshore oil refineries. According to a joint dispatch by AFP, Reuters and AP, this refining process led to the creation of very toxic waste, including over 72 tonnes of sulphur-based residue which caused the pollution in the Ivory Coast capital.

“This is one of the theories we have heard,” says Yannick Vicaire. “It must be confirmed, however, which can be done by holding the ship in port. We know that it spent a lot of time off the coast of Gibraltar and that this area is quite well known for all kinds of trafficking that occurs between ships offshore.”

To date, the toxic waste dumped in Abidjan on 19 August has caused 8 deaths and resulted in 66 people being hospitalised, as well as 80 000 medical check-ups. – (DestinationSante)

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Enviro health Centre

September 2006

 
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