Death toll from poison ship rises to six

The number of people killed by toxic oil waste, dumped in Ivory Coast after it was found to be ‘too expensive’ to deal with in Amsterdam, has now risen to six, the Ivory Coast authorities said on Monday.

Close to 9,000 people have been taken ill after over 530 tonnes of sludge were dumped from the tanker Probo Koala on sites around the capital Abidjan.
The waste was owned by oil company Trafigura which has its administrative offices in Amstelveen. The Probo Koala was first scheduled to be cleaned up in Amsterdam but Trafigura cancelled the contract after the cleaning company increased their fees because the oil was heavily polluted. Last week, Trafigura told the Volkskrant it would have taken too long and been too expensive to clean up in Amsterdam and claimed the Ivory Coast company was accredited to deal with it. United Nations environmental pollution expert Jan Betlem told the Volkskrant today that whoever wanted to get round the laws on pollution, could do so easily by going to Africa. ‘Disposing of things responsibly costs money,’ he told the paper. Officially, the polluted oil was described as ships’ waste meaning the Probo Koala did not need a licence to leave the Netherlands after Trafigura cancelled the clean up contract. The Dutch environment ministry is now investigating the circumstances surrounding the tanker’s stay in Amsterdam.

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