Netherlands must prosecute dirty diesel exporters: report

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The Netherlands and Belgium could prosecute dirty diesel exporters Trafigura and Vitol for contravening international agreements, environmental law experts have told Trouw.

The diesel, which is blended with sulphur and benzene in the ports of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Antwerp, is commonly sold to African countries by European oil companies who are taking advantages of the weak fuel standards in those countries, the experts say.

Swiss-based commodity traders Trafigura and Vitol are responsible for 50% of dirty diesel exports.

There are no EU rules banning such exports, but according to the Centre for International Environmental Law (Ciel), the practice contravenes the 2005 Basel Convention which says that the export of the fuel is illegal if countries themselves prohibit the import of dangerous waste.




Ciel says this the case since most African countries have signed the Bamako agreement (1991) which declares such imports illegal.

‘Therefore the export from Belgium and the Netherlands of fuel with a high sulphur content is in contravention of the Basel Convention,’ Trouw quotes the report as saying.

Ciel’s lawyers say the export of dirty diesel is also in breach of human rights because the Netherlands and Belgium both signed up to a UN agreement which obliges them to respect people’s right to health.

Sulphur

Dirty diesel can contain up to two hundred times the amount of sulphur allowed in Europe.

Milieudefensie spokesman Bram van Liere, said he expects that minister Lilianne Ploumen, who called the practice ‘scandalous’, will now prosecute the two oil companies ‘with the tools we have given her’.

The Ciel report, which was commissioned by Swiss NGO Public Eye and Dutch environmental group Milieudefensie, was sent to parliament on Monday.


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