Tonnes of toxic waste collected in Côte d'Ivoire

More than 4 500 tonnes of substances contaminated by more than 500 tonnes of toxic sludge dumped in Abidjan in August have been collected since a clean-up began in mid-September, an Ivorian official said on Tuesday.

Safiatou Ba N’Daw, head of the government’s anti-toxic waste committee, told a news conference that 4 517 tonnes of solid waste had been excavated from 13 of the 17 polluted sites.

N’Daw estimated that about 1 000 tonnes of waste and contaminated substances remain to be extracted from the other sites and isolated in containers that will be shipped to Europe for specialised treatment.

The waste was dumped in Abidjan on August 19 and 20 by Ivorian company Tommy, from a Greek ship Probo Koala, which was chartered by the Dutch-based multinational firm Trafigura.

The ship arrived in Abidjan after having unsucessfully attempted to dump the more than 528 tonnes of toxic sludge—reportedly a mixture of oil residue and caustic soda used to rinse out the ship’s tanks—in The Netherlands.

An Ivorian company which was supposed to dispose of the waste dumped it on several refuse sites in the economic capital of Abidjan, sparking a health crisis that has seen a steadily climbing casualty toll in the city of four million people.

As of last Friday, the toxic waste poisoning had resulted in 10 deaths, 69 hospitalisations and 102 806 medical consultations, according to the ministry of health. - Sapa-AFP

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