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Africa toxic waste oil deal 'close'
Trafigura set to offer compensation to 31,000 alleged victims of waste dumping.
Last Modified: 17 Sep 2009 14:11 GMT
Trafigura said it would offer compensation to 31,000 people affected by the toxic waste [EPA]

Trafigura, an international oil company, could be close to offering compensation to 31,000 people who said they became ill from toxic waste dumped in the west African nation Ivory Coast, the company's officials have said.

Trafigura, along with Leigh Day & Co, a British law firm, said in a joint statement they were in settlement talks, but did not mention any compensation figure.

"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.

Claims for tens of millions of dollars in compensation stem from an incident in 2006, when petrochemical waste was dumped by a ship chartered by Trafigura on open sites around the country's largest city, Abidjan.

'Strong evidence'

A UN report on the incident, released on Wednesday, showed at least 15 people died and thousands were sickened from the waste.

"We still don't know, and we may never know, the full effect of the dumping," said Okechukwu Ibeanu, an independent human rights expert for the UN.

"But there seems to be strong prima facie evidence that the reported deaths and adverse health consequences are related to the dumping of the waste," Probo Koala, he added.

Trafigura, the world's third-largest independent oil trader, said it has "always maintained that the Probo Koala's slops could not possibly have caused deaths and serious or long-term injuries".

It also denied any liability for "events that occured in the Ivory Coast".

Legal proceedings

The National Federation of Victims of Toxic Waste, an Ivorian group, has said the offer of compensation offer did not go far enough.

Denis Titira Yao, president of the group, said: "They are talking about over 30,000 victims, but for us there are more than that.

"We also need a long-term resolution because there is still waste in Abidjan that has not been removed and there are zones that still need cleaning up."

Trafigura, a Dutch based company, agreed to an $198m out-of-court settlement
with the Ivory Coast government in 2007, which exempts it from legal proceedings in the West African country.

Source:
Agencies
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