The Global Village’s Septic Tank
Here’s a story that will curl your toes. In August, a rusted Greek tanker named the Probo Koala, stopped in the Ivory Coast. The ship had been turned away from several European ports because of its toxic cargo. In the middle of the night, the crew illegally unloaded 500 tons of toxic caustic soda in ...
Here’s a story that will curl your toes. In August, a rusted Greek tanker named the Probo Koala, stopped in the Ivory Coast. The ship had been turned away from several European ports because of its toxic cargo. In the middle of the night, the crew illegally unloaded 500 tons of toxic caustic soda in 12 sites around the city of Abidjan. The resulting fumes sent 40,000 people in search of medical care for respiratory problems, nosebleeds, and nausea. Eight people were fatally poisoned and thousands fled the coast and moved into the rainforest to escape the fumes.
The tragedy led Senegalese ecologist, Haidar al-Ali, to remark:
“We talk of globalisation, of the global village, but here in Africa we are under the impression of being that village’s septic tank.”
Tighter regulation on toxic waste across Europe has given rise to a new class of black-market “garbage cowboys.” They haul away computer parts, radioactive waste, pig dung, cell phones, and just about anything else the rest of the world doesn’t want and dump it on Africa’s doorstep.
The practice is ravaging much of coastal Africa. The UNDP estimates that it costs about $2.50 to dispose of a metric tonne of material in Africa—far cheaper than the $250 it costs in Europe.
Western chemical and energy companies have been dumping their waste products off the coast of Somalia since the early 1980s, taking advantage of the ravaged African nation’s broken government. Fast forward to 2004 when the tsunami hit Somalia’s coast. The Sunday Herald of Scotland, reports:
…along more than 400 miles of shoreline, the turbo-charged wave churned up reinforced containers of hazardous toxic waste that European companies had been dumping a short distance offshore for more than a decade, taking advantage of the fact that there was not even a pretend authority in the African “failed state”.
The force of the tsunami broke open some of the containers which held radioactive nuclear waste, lead, cadmium, mercury, flame retardants, hospital waste and cocktails of other deadly residues of Europe’s industrial processes.
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