Friday, 21 May 2010

Trafigura: Waste Truck Drivers Interview - Context

I realised some time after posting the interview with three of the truck drivers who dumped the Probo Koala’s waste that the context of who said what when and under what conditions might have been hidden.  I apologise if that were the case and I try here to put that failure straight.

In so doing I need to mention the allegation made by Greenpeace / de Volkskrant, an act I have tried hard to avoid.  The story becomes incredibly hard to tell if the allegation, about which most of you will know anyway, remains hidden. 

I do not endorse these allegations.  I cannot know where the truth lies.

Greenpeace / de Volkskrant (GdeV)

GdeV allege that Trafigura / Macfarlanes paid the drivers to say none suffered ill-effects as a result of transporting and dumping the waste.  Clearly this is a very serious allegation.

GdV allege that drivers did suffer from burns and other skin injuries.

Trafigura / Macfarlanes (TM)

TM deny in the strongest possible terms any wrongdoing, any payment to change evidence.

They acknowledge that payment was made to drivers but that this was for the reason outlined below:

“Trafigura and its law firm Macfarlanes said in an emailed statement one of the drivers who had transported the toxic waste began to threaten Trafigura in early 2010, saying he had been injured by the waste. That was contrary to the man's earlier statement given to Trafigura, one of the world's leading oil and metals traders.

To prove the man was threatening to make false claims, Trafigura wanted to make public his statement, which was given confidentially, Trafigura and Macfarlanes said.

"The drivers agreed to the unrestricted use of their statements, but on condition that they were paid a sum of money," Trafigura and Macfarlanes said.

"Reluctantly, Macfarlanes and Trafigura agreed to make a payment of 1.5 million FCFA (2,287 Euros) to each of the drivers, for allowing free and unrestricted use of their witness statements."

[courtesy of Reuters at http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/LDE64H0DZ.htm]

They also state that, before there was any contact between TM and the drivers, the drivers were interviewed by a local newspaper and they stated that no driver suffered ill-health as a result of handling the waste.

It is this interview to which I refer in my post and which I published online.

________

I imagine that GdeV have evidence for making the allegation but I have not seen this evidence nor has it been made public.  I will be contacting both organisations later today asking them to provide more information.

I shall keep you posted and I hope I have clarified the position.

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