Saturday, 31 July 2010

Music in the Morning - Saturday

Welcome the music of Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710-1736) into your today.  He’s already in mine.

Pergolesi: Concerto for violin, strings, and basso continuo in B flat major Mov 1: Allegro

The Raglan Baroque Players featuring Elizabeth Wallfisch, violin

Movements 2 and 3 can be heard here.

Friday, 30 July 2010

My Fail

Mixed up.


What to do?


CPR on Picnic Table

I’ve been busy ….. which is unusual.

I’ve been busy physically ….. which is ….. never.

Yesterday afternoon I decided to bring our old picnic table back to life. 

Its condition was critical, near to death, dying with each shower of rain, rotting gangrenously.

Surgery was required to save its rotting extremities, sanding and then botox to remove it’s cracks and wrinkles.

But, unused as I am to any physical activity beyond face-stuffing, I’m knackered. 

Hands tired.

Arms tired.

Two more jobs for today and then the table will show its thanks by being faithful for another 15 years.

A good deed.

A friend returned to the fold.

Music in the Morning - Friday

Three beauties this morning – song, voice and lady!

A. Lloyd-Webber:  Pie Jesu                        Sissel Kyrkjebø

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Music in the Morning - Thursday

Jane Siberry’s words and kd lang’s voice bring beauty to your new day.

The Valley                                                                  kd lang

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Help! Get Clumsy! Revealed

A few days I showed you this and asked what was burning.


There was no fire as I’m sure you knew.

What you saw was a sunset and trees taken with lots of shaking.

A slightly better photo is below.


Cropping and darkness brought out the colours of fire.  It’s easy when you’re not very good.

Bought a Bike !!!


Can you imagine !

Me and a bike?

Hard to take, I know, but it’s true.

Obese – no, fat! – 60-year-old buying a bike?

Never ridden a bike for about 45 years.

I, who have been a stunt double for a pot-bellied pig, and a bike?

In these times of dire financial struggles there was no “all-singing – all dancing” machine but Asda’s best. 

It’s still a bike though: 18 gears, front and rear brakes!, very soft and padded saddle.

I don’t know what madness came over me.

Yes, I do!

Mrs Carr asked me to buy it for her because the box was too big to fit in her car.

Phew!  That was close!

Not Quite Music in the Morning

This doesn’t fit into my criteria for the Music in the Morning series but I wanted to share it with you.

Pachelbel Rant                                             Rob Paravonian

Music in the Morning - Wednesday

Kate Rusby tickles your toes.

Who Will Sing Me Lullabies                                Kate Rusby

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Trafigura: Dauphin Company - GDE - Dumped …..

…. ILLEGALLY in France.

Yes, it’s true!  

A waste-processing company owned by Claude Dauphin - a co-founder of Trafigura -  has illegally dumped approximately 100,000 tonnes of waste in three sites in France.


The story was reported in France but not, as far as I can see, in the UK.  I found this story, which isn’t new, last week but I needed to confirm the story from several sources before I posted.  I now have that confirmation.

The company, Guy Dauphin Environnement or GDE, has agreed that it had dumped illegally at three sites (Versainville, Soument Saint-Quentin and Fontenay Le Pesnel).

More of the story is here: a Google translation is appended below.

May 19, 2009

Scandal of industrial waste, TF1 log 20 h

In Calvados, an illegal dump was discovered. 40,000 tons of waste were buried secretly by a French leader in recycling, WDM [Calum adds “WDM” is “GDE”, the Claude Dauphin owned company] 

The company WDM buried 40,000 tonnes of waste for 6 years hidden under a concrete slab on the ground of a flea market of "'an area equivalent to a football field.

These are associations that have made this discovery and took action.

Background and financial issues
The automotive sector generates RBA residues Car Crushing (not recyclable) - which must be treated as a landfill closed.
An actor in the recycling sector reflected in the report of TF1 The cost of landfill to rubble is 3.5 € / tonne against 100 € / tonne for the RBA to a licensed landfill site.

It includes fairly the financial issue to the RBA to move the rubble. The savings would be 40,000 tonnes of almost four million euros.”


Eric de Turckheim – another co-founder of Trafigura is a board member of Dauphin’s company Ecore of which GDE is a subsidiary.

The Trafigura Foundation website says this of De Turckheim:

“He is also a Board member of ECORE B.V., a European industrial recycling company which promotes a socially-responsible approach of recycling.”


Are you surprised?

I wonder if there are more stories within the Claude Dauphin empire?

Is there a pattern?


For more information visit these sites:

Music in the Morning - Tuesday

Once again, Respighi opens your curtains.

Respighi:  Prelude to Gli Uccelli  (The Birds)

                                              Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra

Monday, 26 July 2010

Help! Get Clumsy!

We definitely need water from Clumsy’s burn


What’s burning?

Clumsy’s Burn

With a little bit of jiggery-pokery, Calum has transformed a lovely photo into this dull and dark water-course.


Why do I put up with him?

Trafigura: Guilty - Greenpeace Press Statement

Appended below is an English copy of the statement released by Greenpeace after the judgments in the Trafigura case.  I don’t have a link to an English version – this one arrived in my Inbox.  The original Dutch release can be read here.

Greenpeace [is] delighted with conviction of Trafigura for exporting toxic waste.  

Oil giant Trafigura was convicted by the court in Amsterdam today for illegally exporting toxic waste from the port of Amsterdam to Côte d'Ivoire.

Trafigura was also found guilty of concealing the nature of the waste when it was submitted to the Amsterdam waste processing company APS.

The court imposed a fine of € 1 million. The judge described the illegal export as the most severe kind of offence and imposed the maximum fine.

The captain of the Probo Koala, the ship that took the waste to Côte d'Ivoire, was given a suspended jail sentence of five months.

A Trafigura employee received a fine of € 25,000 and a suspended jail sentence of six months.

The city authorities of Amsterdam, APS and the former director of the waste processing company were cleared.

Greenpeace instigated proceedings against Trafigura in 2006 and is happy that, after four years, the courts have finally passed a severe judgement on the company's reprehensible conduct.

"This is a first step towards justice and a clear signal to other companies that the illegal export of waste to Africa will not go unpunished", said Marietta Harjono, Greenpeace's campainer toxic. "But it's only a beginning. The dumping of the waste in Africa was not covered by this case. That is why the victims from Abidjan were not parties to the proceedings.

The top management of the company knew what was going on and put financial profit before protecting people and the environment, but they still don't have to appear before the courts."

In order to get the Department of Public Prosecutions to prosecute Trafigura for the actual dumping, Greenpeace initiated proceedings last year with the Court of Appeal in The Hague.(Notes 1)

"Only then can there be real justice", Harjono pointed out. "The damage inflicted by the waste was in Côte d'Ivoire. The people there have the right to know what they were exposed to and where the waste was dumped. After all, it's their health that's at stake."

Internal e-mails submitted by Greenpeace in evidence show that it was known right up to the top of the company that the waste was possibly dangerous. It also became clear that there were only a restricted number of facilities  for the processing of the waste and that there are rules in place prohibiting the export of the waste to Africa.

The Probo Koala, which was chartered by Trafigura, arrived at Amsterdam in July 2006 to unload the ship's waste. When APS realised that the waste was not the same as Trafigura claimed, and that processing would be much more expensive, Trafigura refused tp (sic) pay the higer (sic) price and had the waste pumped back on board.

After taking a roundabout route calling on a few other countries, including Nigeria, the ship arrived at the harbour of Abidjan.

A small company was called in, which dumped the waste at numerous locations in and around the city.

According to the authorities of Côte d'Ivoire, 16 people died as a result of exposure to the waste and many tens of thousands of people became ill.

Trafigura itself claims that the waste cannot have caused any serious harm.

For more information: Marietta Harjono, Greenpeace campaigner toxis +31 (0)6 1500 74 11 Leon Varitimos, Greenpeace press officer, +31 (0)6 2503 10 12

Notes 1: The Court of Appeal in The Hague looked at the Greenpeace charges on Wednesday 19 May. It decided to continue with the hearing on 8 September. The extent and severity of the dumping are clearly such that the Court has set aside an extra day for the hearing. This means that the decision will be in October at the earliest.

Music in the Morning – Monday

A 1 min introduction from Joan Baez and then the Dixie Chicks blast your morning.

Not Ready to Make Nice                                   Dixie Chicks

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Lazy Busy Day

I’ve had a disappointingly lazy day, unable to rouse myself to worthwhile action.  I hate days like this!  I fall further behind with jobs which should have been completed months ago but still I laze.

My blog however has had its busiest day EVER courtesy of a single tweet although as I write at 20.15 the visits have dropped off hugely but …. still !


Thank you, Richard.

I suppose I had a small part in this: I did write the post to which Richard linked –


If only a single tweet would make me have my busiest day ever.

Not likely though.  I think I’m beyond that.

Sunday Morning Coffee with Glenn Gould

Welcome to yet another show.  The weeks go around so quickly that I always seem to be working on a show.  I’m delighted to see you once more.

Today I feature Glenn Gould about whom I knew nothing until earlier this year when Claudia/Claude left a comment on a music post.  A genius Bachian  - if there is such a word – pianist apparently.  This week I listened and I agree … but there is more.

Grab your coffee, sit down, relax and listen.

Bach:                Piano Concerto No.7 in G minor BWV1058

I didn’t know this piece – I do now – but Gould brings it to life brilliantly.


Gould was born in Toronto in 1932 and died at the tragically young ager of 50 from a stroke.

Both his parents were musical and, apparently, he could read music before words.  Wikipedia says, “His playing was distinguished by a remarkable technical proficiency and a capacity to articulate the polyphonic texture of Bach’s music.”


 Unsurprisingly we continue with Bach.

Bach                                          English Suite No. 5, Prelude

Unsurprisingly this too is brilliant.  Again Gould lifts the music from the paper and gives us  … life.


I assume Gould’s strange posture at the piano was caused by a back injury.  Wikipedia tells the story as: “When Gould was around ten years old, he injured his back as a result of a fall from a boat ramp on the shore of Lake Simcoe. This incident is almost certainly related to his father's subsequent construction for him of an adjustable-height chair, which he used for the rest of his life. This famous chair was designed so that Gould could sit very low at the keyboard, with the object of pulling down on the keys rather than striking them from above — a central technical idea of his teacher, Alberto Guerrero”


We leave Bach behind, for the moment only, but remain with the B’s with Beethoven.

Beethoven:  Piano Concerto No5 in E Flat Major, op. 73,    "Emperor."

I don’t know which movement this is but note that the video starts (12 secs) with the end of one movement.  Also the video cuts off before the end of a movement.

A man at one with his music.  Nine minutes plus of sheer poetry.


Some say that many of Gould’s recordings are ruined by his humming as he plays.  I did hear this in one video but I can’t remember which.


We reach the midpoint with Gould playing an English composer I had never heard about.

Orlando Gibbons                                    Fantasy in C major

This is such a beautiful piece despite its apparent simplicity.


We’ll take a short break for you to stretch your legs and top up your coffee and we’ll restart with a different aspect of Gould.


Now we hear Gould the composer but not the player.

Glenn Gould:                                Opus 1 for String Quartet

We heard less than one tenth of the entire piece which received mixed reviews.  Now not that I know anything about musical composition but this extract seems to have four separate concurrent themes which struggle for supremacy. God,  I’m either brilliant or this is the biggest load of nonsense imaginable from a fool.  I suspect that it is the latter.


Bach returns now.

Bach:                                    Chromatic Fantasy BWV 903

This is the video in which Gould’s ”noise” can be heard.

This is so good despite his “noise”.  Fabulous.


Only two tracks left and there are so many I could have chosen but Bach moves aside for Brahms for 6m 32 s of magic.

One commenter said, “This piece is so intimate. Glenn Gould really makes you feel it. Simply Beautiful.”

What do you think?

Brahms:              Intermezzo No. 2 in A Major, Op. 118: Andante Teneramente

I have fallen in love with this.  I can think of nothing else to say.


For the final track – NO! – Bach returns with music of such beauty that it goes far beyond any other I have played tonight – and I have already fallen in love with the last track.

Bach: Goldberg Variations  Aria and 7 (of 30 variations) BWV 988

You’ll hear Gould in the background especially in the opening aria.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard this in the last few days and each time I’m awe-struck by …. everything about this.  I could – almost but not quite – die happily listening to this.  What a way to go!

Apologies if this seems over the top but Gould and Bach have formed an unbeatable combination.


Thank you for sharing this wonderful music and this wonderful musician with me.

Well, that’s it for another week.  I hope you enjoyed your coffee and the music.   Tune in again next week and thanks for listening.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Trafigura: Spent Caustic – Follow-Up

In an attempt to move forward in the debate on spent caustic I have emailed Trafigura asking for their comments.

My email which mirrors my post of earlier today is as follows:


Dear Sirs

When describing the Probo Koala's waste, Trafigura has described it as being relatively straightforward to dispose of.  For example, the Probo Koala factsheet you posted online 2 days ago contained the two following paragraphs:

“Gasoline washing is a common and legal process that reduces mercaptan levels in gasoline cargoes in order to meet specific contractual obligations.”


“Consequently the port [of Abidjan, Calum’s addition]  is highly experienced in dealing with slops from oil tankers and vessels and in 2006 more than 30,000 tonnes of slops were safely unloaded at Abidjan. Trafigura, as well as other major oil companies, have been operating in the Ivory Coast for decades.”

However, Trafigura emails from December 2005 through to April 2006 describe the waste as being difficult to dispose of and, therefore, as being far from routine.

How does Trafigura reconcile this difference?

I have posted today - - with a description of spent caustic in much more serious tones than used by Trafigura in its factsheet.

“Spent Caustics are the most difficult of all industrial wastes to dispose properly, with the exception of radionuclide wastes.  Since the dawn of petroleum refining, caustic solutions containing sodium hydroxide (common lye) have been used to wash sulfur and other undesirable compounds out of petroleum.  Its use has been in washing crude oils, intermediate fractions, and finished fuels throughout the refining processes.  The result of this washing is the generation of Spent Caustics, also called Waste Caustics and Toxic Wastes.”

“SPENT CAUSTICS are generated from many industrial processes.  Most are generated from the refining of petroleum to remove undesired SULFUR compounds from fuels.

In the refining industry, the net hydrogen sulfide captured in spent caustics is too low for effective sulfur recovery in typical Sulfur Recovery Units (SRU's) employing the common Claus Process, therefore, the spent caustics must be disposed properly.  In addition to the toxic hydrogen sulfide, both toxic mercaptans and phenolics are often captured in spent caustics, severely limiting the disposal options.”


How does Trafigura reconcile this difference?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Your sincerely




Previous experience indicates that Trafigura will not reply but I continue to hope that the trend will change and a full response will be given.

Why should they be reluctant to answer?

Trafigura: Spent Caustic – A More Negative View

The entire Trafigura affair concerns the disposal of spent caustic, the waste left after coker naphtha was washed with caustic soda. 

Trafigura’s latest factsheet about which I posted yesterday had this to say.

“Gasoline washing is a common and legal process that reduces mercaptan levels in gasoline cargoes in order to meet specific contractual obligations.”


“Consequently the port [of Abidjan, Calum’s addition]  is highly experienced in dealing with slops from oil tankers and vessels and in 2006 more than 30,000 tonnes of slops were safely unloaded at Abidjan. Trafigura, as well as other major oil companies, have been operating in the Ivory Coast for decades.”

These are two short paragraphs from a very long document.

There is another view.

This morning I came across the website of a company  - - which specialises in treating spent caustic and I append a few of their statements which describe the waste and treatment in sober terms.

“Spent Caustics are the most difficult of all industrial wastes to dispose properly, with the exception of radionuclide wastes.  Since the dawn of petroleum refining, caustic solutions containing sodium hydroxide (common lye) have been used to wash sulfur and other undesirable compounds out of petroleum.  Its use has been in washing crude oils, intermediate fractions, and finished fuels throughout the refining processes.  The result of this washing is the generation of Spent Caustics, also called Waste Caustics and Toxic Wastes.”


“SPENT CAUSTICS are generated from many industrial processes.  Most are generated from the refining of petroleum to remove undesired SULFUR compounds from fuels. 

In the refining industry, the net hydrogen sulfide captured in spent caustics is too low for effective sulfur recovery in typical Sulfur Recovery Units (SRU's) employing the common Claus Process, therefore, the spent caustics must be disposed properly.  In addition to the toxic hydrogen sulfide, both toxic mercaptans and phenolics are often captured in spent caustics, severely limiting the disposal options.”



“Common to all spent caustics is a high concentration of the extremely deadly and odorous HYDROGEN SULFIDE, an acutely toxic gas most recognized as the odor of rotten eggs when in low ppb (parts per billion) concentrations.  Hydrogen sulfide gas readily dissolves in caustic solutions due to its solubility at high pH or "caustic pH" conditions, typically above pH 10 to 12.  It can be released from solution as a gas easily when the solution is disturbed or the pH is lowered.  It is more toxic than hydrogen cyanide to humans and death can occur in exposures of just 100 to 500 ppmv (parts per million by volume) in the atmosphere.”

“SPENT CAUSTICS contain noxious odor precursors that are highly toxic to humans and to our biosphere.  Toxic and hazardous substrates removed during gas scrubbing, fuel sweetening and hydrocarbon washing end up in the spent caustic.  These compounds must be transformed into non-hazardous and non-toxic compounds before being discharged back to the environment.  The TexoxTM Process accomplishes this daunting task through responsible and cost effective treatment programs.

SPENT CAUSTICS exhibit any or all of the following properties:
Toxic and Highly Odorous Components
       (TLV - Threshold Limit Value where odors are first recognized)
Hydrogen sulfide, TLV 10 ppb  
Mercaptans, TLV 4 ppb
Phenols, TLV 50 ppb
Cresols, TLV 50 ppb
Naphthenes, TLV Begins at 100 ppb

Toxic To Humans At Extremely Low Levels
Toxic To Biological Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTP's)
Industrial WWTP's, dosed at 25 mg/L, before acclimation
Industrial WWTP's, 100 mg/L after acclimation
Municipal WWTP's, 1 mg/L before acclimation
Municipal & POTW: 10 mg/L after acclimation
EPA and RCRA Hazardous Waste
       (see Code Of Federal Regulations Title 40 Environment)
EPA Listed Waste  (D-List, F-List, etc) 
EPA 129 Priority Pollutants List
Combustible (some)

Few Are Recyclable (without additional processing)”


Now I know that this company is promoting their process to deal with spent caustic and, so, we wouldn’t expect them to undersell the difficulties but we see a different picture from that portrayed by Trafigura.


Where is truth in this matter?

Music in the Morning - Saturday

This Flack is worth getting.

First time Ever I Saw Your Face                  Roberta Flack

Friday, 23 July 2010

Trafigura: Statement After Judgment Passed

Trafigura issued a statement today but for convenience I append it below.

To help us better understand Trafigura’s statement I have emailed them asking that they provide an English translation of the judgment

I acknowledge Trafigura’s copyright of that document.  For copyright reasons also I append the header from Trafigura’s webpage. 


Statement from Trafigura on the legal decision handed down by the court in Amsterdam on 23 July 2010:

While Trafigura is pleased to have been acquitted of the charge of forgery it is disappointed by the judges’ ruling on the other two, which it believes to be incorrect.

The court has decided that different technical legislation is applicable than that claimed by Trafigura in its defence.

Concerning the delivery of dangerous goods, it is important that the court has noted that there was limited risk to human health from these slops, and indeed no damage occurred in Amsterdam.

Trafigura will study the court’s findings carefully with a view to appeal.

Trafigura’s employee, Mr Naeem Ahmed, has been acquitted of one charge but convicted of a second. Trafigura continues to maintain that Naeem did nothing wrong and will provide him and his legal team with whatever legal assistance they may require.


Trafigura: Probo Koala Factsheet Published

Yesterday Trafigura published on their website a very long factsheet which covers the Probo Koala affair from July 2006 to December 2009.  The factsheet is available online here or as a downloadable pdf file here.

For convenience I reproduce the entire document below and I acknowledge Trafigura’s copyright of that document.  For copyright reasons also I append the header from Trafigura’s webpage. 

This document is a great help to those such as I who want to understand and find the truth.


22 July 2010
TRAFIGURA: Probo Koala Factsheet
Chronology and Key Details
Key Facts
  • Trafigura sought to act at all times in compliance with local and international regulations.
  • Gasoline washing is a common and legal process that reduces mercaptan levels in gasoline cargoes in order to meet specific contractual obligations.
  • Mercaptans naturally occur within oil products and elsewhere, (e.g. from decomposition of vegetation and from human digestion) and are very smelly. Mercaptans are injected into domestic supplies of natural gas (which has no odour of its own) to alert users to the presence of gas, and there is also a common application as a food additive for garlic flavour.
  • Ship generated waste, such as the Probo Koala’s slops, is regulated by the MARPOL convention.
  • The Probo Koala was following a normal, pre-arranged commercial route when it arrived in Amsterdam and Abidjan.
  • The vessel’s slops were reloaded onto the vessel in Amsterdam with the express permission of the local authorities.
  • Abidjan is one of the largest and most sophisticated ports in West Africa and has handled oil-related cargoes since 1965. Ivory Coast is a signatory to the MARPOL convention and is obliged to provide facilities for slops discharge at Abidjan. The port has two working refineries with an operating capacity of approximately three million barrels of crude oil per annum. Ivory Coast is a producer, exporter and importer of both crude oil and oil products. Consequently the port is highly experienced in dealing with slops from oil tankers and vessels and in 2006 more than 30,000 tonnes of slops were safely unloaded at Abidjan. Trafigura, as well as other major oil companies, have been operating in the Ivory Coast for decades.
  • The UK “class action” settlement vindicated Trafigura’s long-held position about the nature of the slops.
  • More than 20 independent experts established after long, careful and extremely detailed research that the slops (illegally dumped without Trafigura’s knowledge by Compagnie Tommy) could not have caused the alleged deaths and serious injuries.
  • The Joint Statement agreed and issued by the lawyers acting for the parties (included within this document) was fully endorsed by Mr Justice MacDuff, who said it was “100% truthful”.
  • Trafigura could not have foreseen the reprehensible and illegal way in which Compagnie Tommy dumped the slops. Trafigura has every sympathy with the Ivorian people but is aware of systemic medical conditions in the Ivory Coast and a wide misattribution of symptoms by local people to the effects of the slops, the smell of which could have given a false sense of toxicity. It is accepted now by Leigh Day as solicitors for the Claimants and by the BBC that the slops could at worst have caused flu-like symptoms and anxiety.
  • The events surrounding the Probo Koala have highlighted issues about how governments around the world implement international conventions such as MARPOL and how local authorities oversee the operation of their port facilities. Trafigura is working to bring these areas to the attention of the relevant international and local organisations.

July 2006

The Probo Koala was chartered by Trafigura to undertake commercial loading and discharging of cargoes of gasoline and gasoline blendstock, including naphtha and coker naphtha, at various ports.

On 2 July, the Probo Koala, en route to Paldiski, Estonia, called at the port of Amsterdam to discharge slops, comprising a mixture of gasoline, water and spent caustic soda with a small amount of catalyst. The slops were generated by commercial ship operations carried out to caustic “wash” and oxidise coker naphtha cargoes on board the vessel.

Before arriving in Amsterdam, a fee had been agreed with a slops removal company, Amsterdam Port Services BV (APS). However, during the discharge of the slops, APS increased its price by 3,000% without providing any credible justification. Discussions then took place between APS and the Amsterdam environmental authorities, before Trafigura was given the green light to re-load the slops onto the Probo Koala. On 5 July, the vessel departed with the full knowledge and clear approval of the Dutch authorities.

August 2006

After picking up a gasoline cargo in Paldiski, the Probo Koala delivered it to Lagos, Nigeria. In Lagos, attempts were made to find a suitable operator who could offload the slops. However, this search proved unsuccessful, so during its return voyage the Probo Koala called at Abidjan, Ivory Coast to discharge its slops. Abidjan was selected for this task because it is one of the largest and most sophisticated ports in West Africa, used regularly each year by Trafigura and other oil traders as well as the oil majors.

On 19 August, the Probo Koala arrived in Abidjan. Beforehand, an experienced shipping agent in Abidjan nominated Compagnie Tommy to receive the Probo Koala’s slops. Compagnie Tommy was fully licenced by the Ivorian government and authorised by the port to do this work. Trafigura checked the credentials provided and made an independent check with the port authorities. Proper procedures were followed as the slops were removed from the ship, with the written approval of the port authorities and in the presence of the police and customs officials.

Reprehensibly and illegally, Compagnie Tommy subsequently proceeded to dump the slops in and around Abidjan. Trafigura could not have foreseen these disgraceful actions, which were in flagrant breach of Tommy’s licence and its undertakings to Trafigura. Very shortly after the dumping by Tommy, the Ivorian State commenced civil legal proceedings against Trafigura which included a claim for an immediate initial down payment of $500m and Trafigura also commenced its own legal proceedings against various parties in Abidjan.

September 2006

As concern grew in the Ivory Coast following Compagnie Tommy’s illegal slops dumping, two senior Trafigura directors arrived in the country on 14 September with a team of experts to offer technical and financial assistance. Both directors, together with the manager of Trafigura’s local subsidiary, were subsequently arrested on 18 September by the Ivorian authorities and imprisoned without trial for five months before finally being released.

November 2006

On 7 November, an English High Court action was initiated by an English law firm, Leigh Day & Co, which (on a no-win, no-fee basis) took on compensation claims from Ivorians claiming they suffered serious injuries from the dumped slops. Trafigura maintained its position that the slops could not have caused the alleged deaths and serious injuries.

February 2007

On 14 February, an agreement was reached between Trafigura and the Ivorian state in which both parties agreed to terminate all ongoing civil legal action in the Ivory Coast. The agreement also included a promise by the Ivorian state to indemnify any individual claiming to have suffered harm. As a contribution towards the compensation for these individuals and for improving the environment in Abidjan – including assistance towards the construction of a domestic waste disposal plant – Trafigura made a payment of €152 million to the Ivory Coast Government.

The payment did not involve any admission of liability. Rather, underlying the settlement was the opinion that, although Trafigura did not have any legal liability for the Probo Koala ‘incident’, as a major trading company in West Africa the company believes it has an economic responsibility to this region.

The agreement also stipulated that independent environmental audits were carried out. As a result of the audits’ findings, it was agreed by all parties that only a limited amount of additional remedial work was required to address odour concerns. Investigations demonstrated that, on the basis of European environmental standards, no further intervention works would be required given the low levels of contamination found.

Following a final endorsement in April 2008, the Ivorian State confirmed it was completely satisfied that Trafigura had complied with all of its obligations under the February 2007 Agreement.

March 2008

On 19 March, the Ivorian Court of Appeal ruled that, due to a lack of any evidence of any offences committed by them, no criminal charges would be pursued against Trafigura employees or those of its subsidiaries.

June 2008

On 27 June, the Dutch Public Prosecutor decided to bring charges against Trafigura, its Chairman and one of its employees, together with Amsterdam Port Services, a Director of APS, the City of Amsterdam and the Probo Koala’s Master (Captain). These charges are highly technical and only relate to events that took place in Amsterdam during July 2006.

(The Amsterdam Court subsequently dismissed the case against Trafigura’s Chairman, although a final appeal remains outstanding.)

In relation to all the charges, Trafigura and its employee categorically deny any wrongdoing and will vigorously defend themselves. The trial is due to commence in June 2010.

September 2009

Professor Okechukwu Ibeanu, a Special Rapporteur for the UN’s Human Rights Council, published a highly inaccurate and poorly researched report concerning the dumping of the Probo Koala’s slops (and their alleged effects on the local population) that was entirely unsupported by verifiable evidence. Trafigura had, on numerous occasions, offered Professor Ibeanu assistance and access to information to ensure an accurate and balanced report. For example, in 2009, Trafigura appointed WSP Environment and Energy to undertake independent environmental investigations in and around Abidjan. The results of this work did not identify any compounds specifically related to the slops at the tested sites and therefore WSP concluded that there was no related risk to human health caused by the slops at these sites.

Trafigura's legal position in the UK was ultimately vindicated when the group action was settled on 23 September, following a comprehensive review of the incident in Abidjan by more than 20 independent expert witnesses. In a Joint Statement issued by Leigh Day & Co (on behalf of 30,000 Claimants) and Trafigura, it was confirmed that the independent experts were unable to identify any link between exposure to the chemicals released from the slops and deaths, miscarriages or other serious or chronic injuries. (The Joint Statement’s wording is included within this document.) As a result of this expert evidence, Leigh Day & Co acknowledged that the slops could at worst have caused a range of short term, low level flu-like symptoms and anxiety. The settlement was reached without any admission of liability by Trafigura.

At a court hearing on 23 September, Mr Justice MacDuff (who had been due to hear the trial of the case) endorsed the settlement and commented that: "from where I sit and from what I have seen of the [Court] papers, the Joint Statement is 100% truthful."

The judge went on to say that: "I have been following what has been happening in the media both in the newspapers and on TV and radio. I have witnessed myself how wildly inaccurate some of the statements have been. It can all be put right with the final Joint Statement. Speaking for myself, I hope the press that have made statements which have been wrong will take note of the Joint Statement."

October 2009

On 16 October 2009, a Court injunction which Trafigura obtained to prevent the publication of a legally privileged and confidential document was lifted.

In September 2006, Trafigura had commissioned chemists Minton, Treharne & Davies Ltd to prepare a report, based on purely hypothetical ideas as to what may have happened when the Probo Koala's slops were illegally dumped by Compagnie Tommy. Minton produced an initial draft desktop report which was never finalised, as its contents were quickly and authoritatively superseded by analyses of the actual slops, prepared by the Netherlands Forensic Institute. Of note, the NFI's analyses clearly show that, due to the high alkalinity of the slops, hydrogen sulphide in its molecular form would not have been present in the slops. The NFI’s analyses were subsequently relied upon by Trafigura, Leigh Day & Co and the expert witnesses during their preparations for the UK group action.

Subsequently, the draft Minton report was unlawfully obtained and leaked to the media, apparently to undermine the company’s (now accepted) assertion that the slops did not cause the alleged deaths or serious injuries. On learning of this leak, Trafigura obtained an injunction against the publication of the draft report. Following further media speculation about the draft Minton report (including the leaking of the report onto various websites overseas), Trafigura decided that there was little purpose in continuing the injunction. At the same time, Minton issued a press statement confirming that its September 2006 report was a preliminary draft and had been completely superseded.

Contrary to some press speculation, Trafigura never had any intention of suppressing media reporting of UK parliamentary questions related to the draft Minton report.

December 2009

On 17 December, the BBC apologised in Court to Trafigura, over false allegations made in May 2009 on its flagship Newsnight programme and in a related website article that the Probo Koala’s slops caused deaths, miscarriages and other serious injuries. The BBC broadcast a further apology during that evening’s edition of Newsnight. The BBC explicitly accepted that, having reconsidered the position in detail, it had simply got the allegations wrong and withdrew them in full. As well as apologising, the BBC agreed to pay £25,000 in damages (which Trafigura donated to charity), in addition to Trafigura’s legal costs.

Agreed Final Joint Statement between Trafigura and Leigh Day & Co

The parties have since August 2006 expended considerable time and money investigating in detail the events in Abidjan in 2006. As part of that process, in excess of 20 independent experts in shipping, chemistry, modeling, toxicology, tropical medicine, veterinary science and psychiatry have been appointed to consider all the issues relating to those events.

These independent experts are unable to identify a link between exposure to the chemicals released from the slops and deaths, miscarriages, still births, birth defects, loss of visual acuity or other serious and chronic injuries. Leigh Day & Co, in the light of the expert evidence, now acknowledge that the slops could at worst have caused a range of short term low level flu like symptoms and anxiety.

From these investigations, it is also clear that there are many claims which have been made for symptoms, in some cases perhaps understandably, which are unconnected with any exposure to the slops.

In the light of the expert evidence, Leigh Day & Co withdraws the comments made on its website on 8 November 2006 and subsequently, which alleged, among other things, that the slops had caused a number of deaths and miscarriages. Trafigura and Leigh Day & Co have accordingly resolved the libel proceedings brought by Trafigura.

Leigh Day & Co deny that any of their clients have made any deliberately false claims. In the light of assurances given to their senior leading counsel and in view of his advice, Leigh Day withdraw any allegation that there has been impropriety on the part of Trafigura or any of its legal advisors, (including Macfarlanes) in investigating the claims.

Leigh Day & Co acknowledge the substantial assistance that Trafigura provided to the Government and people of the Cote d’Ivoire, including the provision of medical supplies and payments for decontamination of dumpsites and the establishment of a compensation fund.

It remains Trafigura’s position that it did not foresee, and could not have foreseen, the reprehensible acts of Compagnie Tommy in dumping the slops in and around Abidjan in August and September 2006, and that Compagnie Tommy acted entirely independently of, and without any authority from, Trafigura. Nevertheless, Trafigura regrets that this incident occurred and is pleased that the matter has now been resolved.

Definitions of key terms

Slops - a form of ships’ wastes generated from cargo residues carried on board ships and during the cleaning of their tanks.

Mercaptans - a class of molecules containing sulphur, carbon and hydrogen which is commonly present in crude oil and also in refined oil products. Natural sulphur-containing chemicals, mercaptans are also commonly emitted from sewage treatment plants, paper and wood mills, chemical works, agricultural facilities and landfill sites.

Naphtha - a commonly-traded and transported blendstock for gasoline, which is close to gasoline in composition and originates from normal refinery processes. Crude oil is refined and at various temperature ranges (distillations) will produce different products. For example, petrol, kerosene and diesel are all produced at different temperature ranges of the distillation of crude oil. Naphtha is one such product that is produced from the distillation of crude oil.

Coker naphtha - produced from further processing of heavier residues of crude oil. This processing, which is a common and widely undertaken process, is known as thermal cracking (“coking”), hence the naphtha is referred to as “coker” naphtha. Such products are currently commonly traded worldwide by many traders.

MARPOL - the handling of ship generated waste, including slops, is regulated by the international convention MARPOL 73/78 (MARPOL is short for ‘marine pollution’). This convention was created to minimise pollution of the seas, including dumping of oil and exhaust pollution. Its stated object is: “to preserve the marine environment through the complete elimination of pollution by oil and other harmful substances and the minimization of accidental discharge of such substances”. Under MARPOL’s provisions, a ship operator must - with limited exceptions - discharge slops at an adequately equipped port. MARPOL signatory countries (including the Netherlands and the Ivory Coast) are required to provide adequate facilities and licensed operators for the safe handling of slops.

Gasoline washing/Merox process - caustic washing of gasoline is carried out around the world as the first part of the two-step chemical process often referred to as Merox (MERcaptan OXidation). The primary purpose of the second oxidation step in the Merox process is not to reduce the gasoline’s sulphur content, but rather to convert the sulphur into a less odorous form.

Trafigura - Part Judgment $1M Fine

The Washington Examiner carries this story.

“A Dutch court has fined oil trading company Trafigura AG euro1 million ($1.28 million) for exporting hazardous waste to Ivory Coast and for concealing the dangerous nature of the waste when it was initially unloaded from a ship in Amsterdam.

Prosecutors had asked for a fine of euro2 million ($2.57 million) for Trafigura.

Amsterdam District Court judge Frans Bauduin on Friday also convicted a Trafigura employee for his role in the 2006 scandal and the Ukranian captain of the Probo Koala ship that carried the waste.

Toxic waste sickened thousands in the Ivory Coast capital, Abidjan, in August 2006, though Trafigura insists the waste from the Probo Koala could not have caused serious illness.”

Copyright Associated Press

Trafigura: BBC’s Naughty View of Judgment Day

I mentioned yesterday that judgment would be passed today on Trafigura in its month-long Dutch trial.  This morning the BBC too carries a short article about judgment day but I mention this only for two points.

Firstly the article gives the three charges faced by the company and others:

“that it illegally exported waste from a European Union country to Africa;

that it delivered a hazardous substance to a Dutch contractor without revealing just how toxic it was;

and that it falsified papers.”

Secondly the BBC, quite naughtily in my opinion but quite appropriately in the view of many, I’m sure, states,

“A UN report found strong evidence blaming the waste for at least 15 deaths, although the company denies responsibility for this.


Trafigura also paid $50m (£32m) in an out-of-court settlement to individuals in Ivory Coast who said they had been injured when the waste was spread on dumps around the capital, Abidjan.”

without mentioning that:

- in its libel case the BBC could not prove the link between the waste and the deaths despite the UN report having been published

- in the out-of-court settlement a joint statement was made saying that, in the opinion of experts, the waste could not have caused the deaths or serious injury.


The BBC should be better than this.

Music in the Morning - Friday

Van the man opens your door.

Have I Told You lately                                    Van Morrison

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Trafigura: Judgment Day Looms

Tomorrow, Friday 23 July, is the day judgment will be passed on the case in Amsterdam involving Trafigura, Amsterdam Port Services, the city of Amsterdam, the captain of the Probo Koala and Naeem Ahmed  - a Trafigura employee.

The prosecutor demanded the following sentences:

-  2 million euro fine against Trafigura
-  250k euro fine against Amsterdam Port Services (APS)
-  150k euro fine for the city of Amsterdam
-  1 year prison sentences for Trafigura’s Naeem Ahmed
-  6 months (3 on probation) for an APS director
-  4 months in jail for the captain of the Probo Koala

What will be the outcome?

We don’t have to wait much longer.

Music in the Morning - Thursday

The great Paco entertains you this morning.

la Barossa                                                          Paco de Lucia

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Peace Reigns on Earth

Well on my piece of earth anyway.  I know this seems too good to be true but for a few minutes

there was peace within the rains on my piece of earth

Amid the rain  - drizzle really – I took my coffee and sat at the garden table and relaxed and relaxed whilst I got wet.

Absolutely brilliant.



Trafigura: South Africa and Jamaica

I mentioned last Thursday that today I would publish an old but interesting Trafigura story.  At the same time I invited Trafigura to comment but they have chosen not to do so.

I assume this means that they are happy for me to publish and comment upon the particular article which I publish in its entirety but which can be read online here.

The first story – South Africa - I hadn’t heard before.  Despite the story being almost 10 years old I believe it is important.  For many of us our first contact with Trafigura was over the Probo Koala incident and so stories before and after 2006 fill in major gaps in our knowledge of Trafigura.

The second story I’ve been very aware of but I haven’t to date become involved.  Perhaps this will change now!

JAMAICA: Trafigura figures in South Africa bribery scandal

by Olivia Campbell, The Jamaica Observer
October 18th, 2006

Trafigura president Claude Dauphin, who in August paid a visit to Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller at Jamaica House before his company controversially transferred over $31 million to the People's National Party, is a man steeped in the art of expensive gift giving.

For their 'assistance' in delivering to a Trafigura joint venture company a 1.5 billion rand oil trading contract in 1999, for example, Dauphin handed a couple of bottles of 1940 Domaine de Penarde Armagnac brandy to two South African government officials on a visit to Trafigura in London, the South African Mail and Guardian newspaper reported in 2001. Officials in South Africa also testified to receiving envelopes filled with cash and promises of foreign bank accounts from the oil traders.

Those are just some details in a bribery scandal that rocked South Africa at the beginning of the decade, when it was discovered that Trafigura and its local joint venture partner, an African empowerment company called High Beam Investments, illegally paid out thousands of US dollars and promised millions more to government officials.

The bribes were paid to ensure that High Beam Trading International, as the joint venture was called, received a secretive no-bid contract from the South African state oil trading company, The Strategic Fuel Fund Association (SFF).  The contract would give full control of South Africa's strategic oil reserves to High Beam, who would be responsible for selling a 10-million barrel stock of crude, and to restock the reserves with a higher-grade crude.

High Beam, it was discovered later, stood to make inordinately high profits from the 15-month deal, details of which were kept away from the South African Ministry of Mining and Energy.

The secret deal was brought to light in 2000, and in response, then minister of mining and energy, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, immediately cancelled the contract and fired the entire board of the SFF.

Later, Trafigura/High Beam challenged the contract's cancellation in court, but, according to the Mail and Guardian, in late 2002 "backed down. (sic) because of convincing evidence of the illicit payments". In an out-of-court settlement, the joint venture was ordered to repay all money earned under the contract, as well as to pay the government's legal fees, another South African newspaper, the Sunday Times reported in 2003.

Trafigura's connection to Jamaica dates back to 2000, when the company won a bid and was contracted by the Jamaican state oil company, the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica, to lift, market and trade the 30,000 barrels per day of Nigerian crude allocated to the country under a 1978 oil facility.

Since 2001, the company has lifted oil in Jamaica's name, and initially paid Jamaica a flat fee of US7.5 cents per barrel. The annually renewable contract was last signed for the 2005-2006 year, and provided for Jamaica to receive US12.5 cents per barrel.

Two weeks ago, Opposition Leader Bruce Golding brought the Trafigura dealings to public attention when he presented leaked returned cheques and a bank statement that showed over $31 million transferred from Trafigura to an account at FirstCaribbean Bank held by one CCOC Association. The PNP hastily denied that the money was illegally gained, and insisted that it was an above-board donation. Trafigura later denied that, saying that the money was part of a commercial transaction with CCOC.

Colin Campbell, the government minister at the centre of the controversy, resigned his posts as information and development minister and as PNP general-secretary, saying that he had acted independently in his dealings with Trafigura.

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has subsequently ordered that the money, some of which was believed to be used by the party to put on its massive 68th annual conference in September, be returned to Trafigura.

It is unclear whether Dauphin, who is currently detained in the Ivory Coast as the government there investigates Trafigura's role in the dumping of thousands of tonnes of chemical toxic waste around Abidjan, the capital, brought gifts for the government officials he met with on his trip to Jamaica in September.

I must point out that Trafigura have NOT been found guilty of bribery in South Africa.  The contract was cancelled, Trafigura and High Beam challenged the cancellation but settled out-of-court, repaid all monies earned from the contract and paid the legal fees of their opponents in court.

If, at any time, Trafigura makes any comments about this post I will give them the prominence they deserve.

If there are any errors in the cited article please let me know and I will correct them immediately.

Music in the Morning - Wednesday

Arcangelo Corelli visits and ask us to dance.

Corelli:  Sonata da Camera in E Flat Major
                               Preludio: Adagio;   Allemanda: Presto;   Giga: Allegro

Remy Baudet, Sayuri Yamagata - violin; Albert Bruggen - cello; Pieter-Jan Belder - harpsichord

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Music in the Morning - Tuesday

A very well-known piece but that’s no reason not to enjoy a brilliant recital.

Vittorio Monti: Czardas                                Joo Young Oh

Monday, 19 July 2010

Sepia World

…… almost


I loved the wonderful shades in a shallow pool.

Trafigura: Still Waiting to Hear

Last Thursday I posted,

“I came across an interesting but old - new to me though - story involving Trafigura about which I intend to post next Wednesday.  The delay is to allow Trafigura an opportunity to comment.”

I haven’t heard yet from Trafigura despite a follow-up message and, therefore, it looks very much as though I’ll be posting without any comment from them.

Beyond this post I’m still working on “Confusions and Questions” and on a few interesting snippets I’ve come across recently.  Some may become posts in their own right when I’ve had the opportunity to delve further.

Time will tell!

Music in the Morning - Monday

Banjo player Bela Fleck picks for you.

Next                                     Bela Fleck and the Flecktones