Thursday, 1 July 2010

Trafigura: Probo Koala Waste – Amsterdam 3

As I write this I have had, as yet, no comment from Dr Busch about the 2nd post in the series.  I’m sure one will come.

I continue to question assertions made by Dr Busch about the PK’s waste.

In a comment to a recent post Dr Busch said,

“…. these wastes were purportedly tested in a chemical laboratory by APS (in a magically accelerated procedure) and found to be dangerous. Half the wastes had already been discharged. This procedure was stopped and the wastes reloaded on the Probo Koala.”

and in a paper of his, “Environmental Queen of Hearts”, he is stronger.

“The Probo Koala was originally intended to deliver the marine slops to a local company APS in Amsterdam. It received clearance to deliver and started to discharge its cargo into a barge. When about half of the cargo was discharged the local company contacted the agents of the disponent owner, Trafigura (the charterer of the vessel) and said that the marine slops were highly toxic and the price was being raised to over a thousand Euros a cubic meter instead of 35 Euros as agreed.

The reason given was that the slops had been tested and found toxic. This is a scientific miracle. Testing of these substances takes a minimum of twenty-eight hours. More often it takes two days. This is because some of the prescribed tests require titration and chromatography.

Amazingly the APS conducted these tests at some unspecified test lab, not once but twice, in a twelve hour period. They had to do their magic test again ....”

Firstly let me deal with Busch’s claim that APS contacted Trafigura when half the cargo was discharged.  The implication here is that all the cargo was to be discharged and when that process was only half done APS came back with the results.

The image below is from the website of de Volkskrant – a Dutch newspaper.   The full image claims to show an Internal Trafigura Briefing document and so we can assume that the words contained are Trafigura’s own.


The intention is very clear.  Just under 50% of the slops were to be discharged. APS quoted only for the discharge of 250cbm (cubic meters).

APS’s actions were, therefore, entirely appropriate.  All the waste to be discharged had been transferred and, then, APS had test results which showed that the waste did not conform to the criteria stipulated by APS in their quotation.

These criteria and the failure to meet them forms the bulk of yesterday’s post in this series.

Let me move on to Dr Busch’s claimed “scientific miracle”.

To identify and quantify the actual chemical components of the waste would, indeed, take some time using even the most up-to-date equipment but, initially, this was not necessary.  APS had carried out a test for Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) – again mentioned in yesterday’s post.

The image below I took from the website of a company, Palintest, who make equipment for testing COD.  Unfortunately I can’t now find the actual web-page.


The carrying out of COD tests by APS is entirely correct.

How long does this test take?

28h?   No!  No more than 4h.

I show another image from a current  Palintest webpage.


So, add the sample, heat for two hours, cool and check the colour by instrument.  I should mention that this colorimetric method is an internationally recognised method for determining COD.

What does this test give?

COD tests give a measure of a waste’s ability to pollute if it were released untreated.

The agreed result for COD on the waste later discharged at Abidjan was ten times the limit agreed by APS and Trafigura.  No wonder APS shouted “Stop!”.


We have no need to invoke miracles.

Nothing more than a straightforward test was needed for APS to know Trafigura’s waste was far far removed from their expectations.

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