Trafigura and the people of Abidjan

Trafigura’s name has been dragged through the public muck this week, thanks to the great defenders of democracy; The Guardian and Twitter.

The media storm which developed from Trafigura and Carter Ruck trying to prevent the Guardian publishing the Minton Report, using a super injunction, has protected our freedom of expression.

But I feel the real issue has been brushed aside.

That the people of the Abidjan on the Ivory Coast have been poisoned by toxic waste and we need to discuss what can be done to help them.

The Minton Report

The Minton Report says that toxic waste was dumped near the city of Abidjan on the Ivory coast in 2006. These slops and chemical components found their way to local garbage sites, where the locals were exposed to them.

The chemicals which were dumped reacted with the environment and released a toxic gas Hydrogen Sulphide.

According to the report this gas cloud sat over the city in 2006. It is not yet clear if it is still there.

The report explains that;

effects ranging from serious respiratory and eye problems at high concentrations near the source through to discomfort and nausea brought about by the unpleasant smell in areas further from the source The Minton Report

I don’t understand why there have been no news reports about what is being done to help these people.

I also think it is naive to believe that such a cover up of a similar toxic spill would never occur in Europe or in the US.

PG & E 1992
PG&E had leaking ponds at a natural gas compressor station which was leaking hexavalent chromium into the local water supply in the Californian town of Hinkley. They offered to buy the houses of the people of Hinkley when it became clear to them that this toxic leak was causing cancer.This was an attempted cover up since they did not tell the local residents about the potentially damaging effects to health from this leak.

The case was made famous by the film Erin Brockvitch. It was settled in 1996 with PG & E paying over $333 million to the residents of Hinkley, who had suffered a variety of cancers as a result of exposure.

Yes the super injunction was wrong, and it’s presence in our legal system is a worry to journalists. There could be other “Trafigura stories” which are not being reported because of super injunctions.

But it still shouldn’t take away from the fact that there is/was toxic waste in Abidjan, and I think it is a journalist’s role to expose to society these events so something can be done about it.

Journalists and tweeters should stop writing about how they have defended our democracy, and instead start talking about what they can do to help the people of Abidjan.

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One thought on “Trafigura and the people of Abidjan

  1. Thought I’d be the first to leave one of these posts and say that that was a very nice piece.

    It’s very true. This case, like many others, has people up in arms for a few days then everyone forgets. Out of sight, out of mind as they say.

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