Dutch Company Convicted of Dumping Toxic Waste in Africa

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LUC GNAGO/Reuters/Corbis

BP might be the corporate bad guy du jour, but the toxic transgressions of another multinational corporation are giving them a run for their money.

A Dutch court has found the oil trading company Trafigura guilty of transporting toxic waste to the Ivory Coast in west Africa and dumping it there, injuring as many as 30,000 Ivorians since 2006. The corporation was also fined $1.5 million for the activity.

The court also said Trafigura had concealed the dangerous nature of the cargo when it was originally taken from a ship in Amsterdam. The company faced criminal charges over the scandal for the first time since it began four years ago when Ivorians began to fall ill from the waste in the nation’s largest city Abidjan.

Last year, the company after being embroiled in lawsuits connected to the scandal, agreed to pay $50 million to people who were affected by the waste, but the civil case was separate from the Dutch criminal case. In it, prosecutor Look Bougert accused Trafigura of “self-interest above people’s health and the environment.”

He said the waste was placed on tankers in the Netherlands, then moved to the Ivory Coast, where the cost of getting rid of the waste was cheaper. But rather than disposing of it properly, Trafigura “dumped it over the fence” without considering the consequences.

The company is considering an appeal, denying that it, nor its employees, did anything wrong.

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