A Dutch court has fined Trafigura, an Anglo-Dutch oil-trading group, Ä1m (£840,000) for illegally dumping toxic waste in poverty-stricken CÙte d'Ivoire.
A report by an investigator for the United Nations Human Rights Council states that "15 people died[ and] 69 people were hospitalized" after a ship chartered by Trafigura -- the Panamanian-registered vessel Probo Koala -- dumped 500 tonnes of toxic waste belonging to the company at sites around the west African port of Abidjan. Ultimately, 31,000 people were affected by the incident.
Judge Frans Bauduin castigated Trafigura for concealing the dangerous nature of the waste when it was initially unloaded from a ship in Amsterdam before being sent on to Abidjan.
He said the company was being fined because it had done what European regulations on toxic waste aimed to prevent, "namely export waste to the third world and harm the environment".
Judge Bauduin also fined Trafigura employee Naeem Ahmed Ä25,000 for leading the effort to dump the waste "while its dangerous nature was concealed".
Dutch prosecutor Look Bougert said Trafigura had put "self-interest above people's health and the environment". Instead of disposing of the waste properly, Trafigura "dumped it over the fence" in Abidjan. "Cheap, but with consequences," he added.
Trafigura is now considering an appeal.
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