Greenpeace is pressing the Dutch courts to prosecute global commodities trader Trafigura for “deliberately” dumping toxic oil waste in the Ivory Coast in 2006, the environmental group said.
Last week, the trader said it had reached a settlement with thousands of people in the West African country who said they had fallen sick when slops from a ship it had chartered were dumped in the commercial capital Abidjan, Reuter reports.
Trafigura, which has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, said the settlement of £950 to each of the 31 000 claimants was not an admission of liability.
The British-based law firm representing claimants, Leigh Day and Co, has so far failed to confirm the settlement. On Monday a spokeswoman once again declined to comment on Trafigura’s assertion that a deal had been struck.
Trafigura said in its statement that Leigh Day and Co had accepted that experts were unable to identify a link between the slops deposited and any deaths, miscarriages, still births or other serious injuries.
Separately, Greenpeace said it had filed a complaint with the European Court of Justice in The Hague against the Dutch Public Prosecutor’s Office for what it says was the court’s failure to properly examine all the evidence and bring criminal charges against the firm.
Reacting to the environmental group, Trafigura said in a statement: “Greenpeace’s stance is in direct contradiction to the evidence and agreed positions of Trafigura and Leigh Day & Co, as outlined within the recent joint agreement.”
“We are arguing that Trafigura be prosecuted for intentional pollution of the environment in Abidjan that the dumping was a deliberate act, resulting in injuries and death,” said Greenpeace’s toxic campaign leader Marietta Harjono.
Greenpeace said it had alerted Dutch prosecutors to Trafigura’s involvement at the time of the disaster.
But it said Dutch prosecutors only decided to pursue offences that preceded the dumping incident namely the export of hazardous waste to the Ivory Coast. Export of toxic waste is prohibited under European law.
Greenpeace contends that the complaint lodged at The Hague, a 24-page document, includes new evidence that they say implicates Trafigura, including internal emails purportedly showing that the company intended to mislead Dutch authorities.
“I think our case, our complaint, is even more important than the settlement because we believe Trafigura is escaping the courts and we’ve seen that for years now,” Harjono said in relation to the case.
Commenting on Trafigura’s announced settlement, Greenpeace said: “Justice is not a commodity to be bought and sold. Only when those who are responsible are prosecuted under the full force of the law and made to pay for their crime will environmental legislation become a force to be reckoned with.”