Monday, September 25, 2006

Africa: A Dump Site for Global Toxic Waste?

The use of Africa as a dumping site for hazardous waste from industrialized nations is an old news. The issue resurfaced again some weeks ago in Ivory Coast.

Very few African blogs covered this, I could find just a handful on google search. This is one issue the African blogosphere flunked bigtime!

A recap of recent toxic garbage that found some cheap sites in Africa:

International agencies "have confirmed 400 tonnes of gasoline residue were dumped at between 10 and 14 sites in Abidjan on the 19 and 20 August."-- IRIN, (2006).

The same ship attempted to dump this waste in Amsterdam, a month earlier, according to the CNN.

"...Large quantities of obsolete computers, televisions, mobile phones, and other used electronic equipment exported from USA and Europe to Lagos, Nigeria for "re-use and repair" are ending up gathering dust in warehouses or being dumped and burned near residences in empty lots..." -- University of Texas (2005).

"Around 50 thousand tonnes of pesticides have ended up in Africa - 270 tonnes of which are stored in Mali, one of the continents poorest countries..." -- WWF, an independent conservation agency (2004).

"Two Italian ships will be sent to retrieve several tons of unspecified toxic waste left in Koko, a Nigerian port...Nigeria said hundreds of drums of toxic waste have been illegally shipped from Italy to Koko. The Italian company that shipped the waste said the delivery was authorized." -- New York Times (1988).

"During the Somali civil war hazardous waste was dumped in this
African nation by industrialized countries. The alleged
perpetrators were Italian and Swiss firms..." -- TED Case studies #64

Guernica Chemicals, a British company in South Africa received "thousands of tonnes of chemical waste in the 1980s and early 1990s from the United States and European companies, including American Cyanamid and Borden Chemicals, to be reprocessed. All that remains of the facility, since the South African government forced the company to stop operations in 1994, are rusty and corroded machinery." -- Afrol News

The Basel Convention, an internation treaty is "devoted to setting up a framework for controlling the 'transboundary' movements of hazardous wastes, that is, the movement of hazardous wastes across international frontiers"; however, Afghanistan, Haiti, United States of America have not ratified it. While the U.S isn't the sole source of toxic waste, its failure to ratify the treaty speaks volume to its orientation toward toxic waste traffiking.

Slate, an American online magazine states "in the United States the story has been largely relegated to tiny squibs in the "World Briefs" sections of newspapers - if it has been covered at all."

I wouldn't bother ranting any more, the excerpts listed above say it all: the admixture of poverty and ignorance is lethal!