Toxic Trade News / December 2006
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Dirty Business
by Liz Carney, BBC World Service (UK)
First broadcast in December 2006Vast amounts of waste are exported daily from the industrialised world to developing countries - all in the name of recycling.

But much of this trade is illegal, dangerous and environmentally disastrous to the countries who receive it.

Liz Carney travels to India, Nigeria, Czech Republic and the USA to lift the lid on the multi billion dollar trade that dumps western waste on some of the world's poorest nations.


Part One: Shipbreaking in India

The Blue Lady, once one of the world's most glamorous cruise ships, is currently beached at the huge ship-breaking yard of Alang in India.

Environmental groups argue that the asbestos-riddled ship is toxic waste and say the ship was dumped on India as a cheap place to scrap it.

But ship breakers say Alang meets the necessary health and safety standards. They maintain that if Blue Lady is turned away from India, the work will simply go to a cheaper yard, probably in China.

The situation is set to get worse, 200 single hulled oil tankers need to be disposed of by 2015.

The BBC's Liz Carney asks who is going to deal with them and at what economic and environmental cost.

Dirty Business - Part 1: Shipbreaking in India


Part Two: E-waste in Nigeria

The United Nations Environment Programme estimates that worldwide, 20 to 50 million tons of electronics, computers and other techno junk is discarded each year, increasingly ending up dumped in developing countries.

Liz Carney reports from Lagos, Nigeria, where some 400,000 second hand computers, three quarters of which cannot be re-used, are imported every month.

The discarded machines, many from Europe and the US, are dumped, sometimes in burning heaps, on roadsides and waste land in Lagos, with toxins leaching into the air and the water table.

The Nigerian authorities are becoming increasingly alarmed by the trade, asking why this e-waste is not recycled in its own country.

Dirty Business - Part 2: E-waste in Nigeria


Part Three: Illegal dumping in the Czech Republic

Early in 2006 an acrid smoke filled the air in the normally pastoral village of Libceves in the Czech Republic. Children were kept indoors, and residents told to close their windows as thousands of tonnes of rubbish which had been illegally imported from Germany mysteriously caught fire.

The municipal rubbish, which included batteries and medical waste had been hidden in empty farm buildings, but when Czech authorities investigated they discovered there were many more cases beside this one.

The Czech authorities estimate that 20,000 tonnes of rubbish was brought into North Bohemia this year from Germany.

They are worried that, as costs for safe waste disposal in Europe rise; poorer nations will become the target for a thriving trade in illegal rubbish.

Liz Carney looks at the problem of rubbish illegally imported into the Czech Republic from Germany and burnt to make more room for more illegal rubbish imports.

Dirty Business - Part 3: Illegal dumping in the Czech Republic

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