Dimas outraged at EU toxic waste shipment
Stavros Dimas says he will push for stronger EU rules following the "criminal" unloading of European toxic waste in the Ivory Coast. by Anne-France White, EUPolitix.com (Belgium)
28 September 2006 –
The Dutch-chartered tanker Probo Koala unloaded a reported 400 tons of toxic waste in the Ivorian port of Abidjan in August, leaking fumes that killed eight people and caused 40,000 to seek medical help.
The scandal broke when environmental NGO Greenpeace blocked the ship in an Estonian harbour and called for Estonia to impound the ship and carry out a criminal investigation.
On Thursday, the environment commissioner flew to Estonia in order to “give his full support to the efforts of the Estonian authorities in their quest to prosecute the criminals who perpetrated this crime”.
“Such highly toxic waste should have never left the EU,” Dimas said.
“European and international laws were broken. There is no excuse for it. What happened was not only unethical in the most profound sense of the word, but it was criminal.”
Estonian prosecutors have now launched a criminal case into the matter.
The case has led to widespread outrage among campaigners.
“The Dutch authorities were fully aware of the nature of the cargo on Probo Koala a month before the lethal toxic waste was dumped in Abidjan, yet nothing seems to have been done to prevent it from happening,” asserted Swedish green MEP Carl Schlyter.
“It leaves the distasteful impression that, so long as it is not in our own backyard, it is okay.”
Meanwhile, Dimas says he fears that the Probo Koala incident is “only the tip of the iceberg”.
“European governments need to be more aware of what is happening in their harbours and on their ships,” he warned today.
The Greek commissioner says he will “seek ways and means to reinforce the existing waste shipment regulation and its implementation by the member states.”
He also plans to put forward a proposal to “criminalise certain environmentally damaging practices such as the one perpetrated”.
Countries agreed to ban the dumping of toxic waste in the developing world through the UN Basel Convention in 1995, but this has failed to stem the tide.
The Basel Action Network, a US group campaigning for a crack-down on hazardous waste, says there is currently an “alarming resurgence of a waste trade epidemic”.
FAIR USE NOTICE. This document contains copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The Basel Action Network is making this article available in our efforts to advance understanding of ecological sustainability and environmental justice issues. We believe that this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.