Monday, 19 April 2010

Trafigura: WSP Summary Report Online

I reported late on Friday that, after 3 months of trying, Trafigura released to me the WSP Report describing the environmental audit carried out in and around Abidjan following the illegal dumping – by Compagnie Tommy – of the waste from the Probo Koala.  Trafigura have just confirmed that I am free to write about, quote from and post the report online.

The Summary Report is available online here.

That’s the good news.

The disappointing news is that the report released is only the Summary Report which contains very little new information: the detail, I would imagine, will be in the three individual reports from which the Summary was produced. 

I have asked Trafigura to release the three detailed reports but, as yet, I haven’t heard from them.  I’ll continue to work on and with them.

I’ll now summarise the Summary Report.

The Summary Report has the following one major conclusion – my words and not a quote from the report. The areas of dumping do not constitute any ongoing health risk (Para 2.1.2) but there are risks to health in other dump-sites where Probo Koala waste was not dumped AND also in the public water supply and in water and sediment from the lagoon (Para 2.1.3).

In slightly more detail now.

“…. no risks to human health were been (sic) identified associated with the Contaminants of Concern (those considered to be indicative of the Slops) at the subject sites.”

No indication is given of the chemicals which were on the “Contaminants of Concern” list (Para 2.1.2).

From Contextual samples (i.e. from various non-dump sites around Abidjan) WSP quote examples of sites with chemicals which could represent a risk to health (Paragraph 2.1.3):

“-  benzene in excess of WHO guidelines at busy road junctions

-  light & heavy hydrocarbon fractions and phthalates in a landfill site which could represent a health risk dependent on the activities carried out on-site.

- water and sediment samples from the lagoon were contaminated with pesticides, hydrocarbons (water) and metals, phenols, cresols (sediment).

- the public water supply was contaminated with pesticides, chlorinated solvents and other industrial chemicals which could represent a chronic risk to health.”

The report also mentions the distressing normal life (or death) conditions within Abidjan and the Ivory Coast.

“Air pollution in the city represents a potentially significant health issue with significant inputs from industry, domestic sources and road traffic. Road traffic inputs are accentuated by the use of older vehicles in poor condition of repair which result in release of significant particulate, un-burnt fuel and other pollution. Domestic inputs from the use of wood and charcoal for heat generation and cooking are also significant. The estimated concentrations of particulates
in the city were noted at levels which would represent a potential chronic risk to human health and may be considered to result in an increased risk of cardiopulmonary and lung cancer mortality based on exceedence
(sic) of World Health Organisation guidelines (WHO 2005).

Underlying the above issues, Malaria is endemic, accounting for approximately 10% of all deaths in the country. As with much of Sub-Saharan Africa, HIV is also a significant issue with 7% of the population thought to be infected and 19% of deaths attributed to HIV/AIDS, the largest single cause of death in the country. Life expectancy at birth in the Ivory Coast is consequently 47.7 years (ranked 166th out of 179 countries), significantly below the world average of
68.1 years and the UK life expectancy of 79.0 years.”

One point which should be borne in mind is that the WSP work was carried out between December 2008 and March 2009 but the illegal dumping took place in August 2006. 

The Report is unclear but it appears that some samples from the remediation efforts (clearing material from affected dump-sites in 2007, I think) were bagged and retained for further analysis.  WSP report that no hydrogen sulphide was detected in the air around the bags nor was there any “distressed vegetation or other visual or olfactory evidence of the continued impact of contamination” within or around the bag store.

No mention is made of any other analyses which were carried on material in these bags.


Whilst welcome, this Summary Report adds little to our knowledge of the contamination and its possible effects.

I thank Trafigura for releasing this Report but I now call on them to release:

-   the three detailed reports from which this Summary Report was produced
-   the detailed chemical analysis of the waste (superseded the Minton report)
-   the reports of the many experts employed who came to the conclusions that the chemicals could not have caused the human effects claimed.

Thank you for bearing with me these few months while I was struggling to make progress. 

Perseverance has paid off so far. More is still needed.


  1. You said it all in your last two sentences, Calum. Well done.

  2. Thanks, James. I will keep going. Don't worry.

    But as an investigative reporter now - ha ha! - I need to find another story or two that I can get my teeth into.

    Sorry - into which I can get my teeth. :)