Amsterdam criticised in Probo Koala report

Amsterdam city council had no legal grounds to stop the ship Probo Koala leaving its port with its cargo of toxic waste on July 5, according to an official report published today.

Responsibility lay with the transport ministry, said the report which was commissioned by the council. But it did criticise the way the various official bodies involved had worked together.
Despite the special circumstances, cooperation between the city and national officials ‘was not adequate’, the report said. The Probo Koala had been moored in Amsterdam for cleaning but left after waste disposal experts questioned the contents of its tanks, officially described as ‘ship’s slops’.
The waste was eventually dumped in the Ivory Coast city of Abdijan, killing several people and making thousands ill.
While the report cleared Amsterdam of wrongdoing in releasing the ship, the authorities were wrong to allow waste which had already been pumped out of the Probo Koala, to be pumped back. This happened after its owners – the Amstelveen registered firm Trafigura – decided to look for a cheaper clean-up elsewhere.
The rules on ship’s waste are ‘very complicated and fragmented’, the report said. Reacting to the report, Amsterdam city council said it had taken steps immediately to improve procedures governing such events and had set up a hotline with government officials.

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