Trafigura pays Ivory Coast in toxic waste case

Oil trader Trafigura will offer compensation to 31 000 people from Ivory Coast after toxic waste was dumped in the country in 2006, killing 16 and sickening thousands, the firm and claimants said.

Trafigura Beheer BV and British law firm Leigh Day & Co, which is representing claimants, said in a joint statement earlier this week they were in settlement talks but did not mention a figure, Reuters reports.
“It currently appears that this settlement is likely to be acceptable to most, if not all, of the claimants,” Trafigura and Leigh Day & Co said. The class action was scheduled to be heard in an English court in London next month.

Trafigura, one of the world’s biggest commodities traders, denies any wrongdoing over the waste, which was dumped around the Ivorian economic capital Abidjan after being unloaded from a ship, the Probo Koala, chartered by the company.

The petrochemical waste, described by Trafigura as residues from gasoline mixed with caustic washings, was left on open sites. Thousands of people in nearby areas fell ill and 16 people died.

Some 31 000 people from Ivory Coast have been seeking tens of millions of dollars in compensation from Trafigura for illnesses they suffered.

Trafigura agreed to a $198 million (R1472 million) out-of-court settlement with the Ivory Coast government in 2007 which exempts it from legal proceedings in the West African country.

Pic: Probo Koala “Toxic” ship