Transport ministry failed over Probo Koala

Dutch transport ministry inspectors failed in their duty when they allowed the oil tanker Probo Koala to leave Amsterdam with its cargo of toxic waste last summer. This is the conclusion of independent lawyers who have investigated the issue for MPs.

Labour MP Diederik Samson told ANP today that transport ministry officials ‘did not dare’ to stop the ship leaving Dutch waters because the ship’s owners, Amstelveen-registered Trafigura, had threatened to sue for damages if the ban proved to be groundless.
The waste, officially described as ‘slops’, was later dumped in the Ivory Coast port city of Abdijan by a local company, killing at least 15 people and making thousands ill.
The lawyers’ report says that Amsterdam city council and environment ministry officials could also have stopped the ship leaving Amsterdam. Both the city and former environment minister Pieter van Geel have admitted mistakes were made. Trafigura has paid Ivory Coast €152m in compensation but denies liability.
Former transport minister Karla Peijs told parliament earlier this year that her department had acted properly in not sounding the alarm, according to today’s Volkskrant. The ship’s waste was to have been processed in Amsterdam but the contract was cancelled on cost grounds and the sludge pumped back into the ship.

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