Trafigura to settle for £28m over toxic waste dumping

Avril Ormsby,Reuters
Monday 21 September 2009 00:00

International commodities trader Trafigura said yesterday it had reached a settlement with thousands of people in Ivory Coast who said they had fallen ill from toxic waste dumped around the economic capital Abidjan.

Trafigura said in an emailed statement lawyers representing the 31,000 claimants had accepted that experts were unable to identify a link between the slops deposited in 2006 and any deaths, miscarriages, still births or other serious injuries.

"This settlement completely vindicates Trafigura," company director Eric de Turckheim said in the statement.

Details of the settlement were not disclosed.

A class action had been scheduled to be heard in a court in London next month.

Trafigura, one of the world's biggest commodities traders, had repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

It issued what it said was an agreed final joint statement with British law firm Leigh Day and Co.

Nobody was immediately available from Leigh Day for comment.

Trafigura, based in the Netherlands and with significant operations in London, hired a contractor in 2006 to dispose of slops from a ship it had chartered, the Probo Koala.

The petrochemical waste was described by Trafigura as residues from gasoline mixed with caustic washings.

Trafigura said in its statement the settlement was in "no way an acceptance of liability by Trafigura".

"Trafigura has always made clear that it has a strong economic and social responsibility to the area," it said.

"Trafigura also recognises that the slops had a deeply unpleasant smell and their illegal dumping ... caused distress to the local population."

Trafigura agreed to a $198m (£122m) out-of-court settlement with the Ivory Coast government in 2007, which exempts it from legal proceedings in the West African country.

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