Huge UK lawsuit over toxic dumping in Africa
by Alan Harten
May 15, 2009
The largest group lawsuit in British history is in the process of being prosecuted, with over 30,000 people from the Ivory Coast claiming that toxic waste from the oil trading company, Trafigura, was dumped into the coastal areas of the country.
The lawsuit targets toxic waste that was chartered aboard the Probo Koala ship and billed as cargo by Trafigura and taken to the Ivory Coast, which incidentally is one of the poorest countries of Africa.
A chemist who obtained the samples from a Dutch analysis stated that if the same amount of chemicals (noted by the Dutch analysis as two tones of hydrogen sulphide) had been dumped in the UK, millions of people would have been sick within a several mile square radius.
Trafigura adamantly denies that the hydrogen sulphide was on board the chartered ship, instead claiming that it only contained waste water from washing out the tanks.
Its official statement said that the company will not engage in a public battle about the contents and will resolve the matter in court.
Recent allegations have also been made against the company for paying witnesses to change their statements as well as allegations that it has threatened employees not to speak about the true conditions of the matter.
However, the oil company remains solid that it would pay if it was linked to the sickness in the Ivory Coast, and says that it has not interfered with the trial.
Following the allegations, the High Court responded by forbidding any representatives from Trafigura to talk to claimants.
After some claims of interference Mr. Justice McDuff has decided to hold certain parts of the hearings in private to prevent additional claims or evidence that the witnesses are being bribed, threatened, or pressured.
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