Friday, 14 October 2011

Trafigura – Old Story Pops Up Again

 

Once again a very interesting article about Trafigura and its super-injunctions appears. There is a difference this time: it is written by a partner, Nigel Tait, in the law firm, Carter-Ruck, who acted for Trafigura.

 

In case any have forgotten, Trafigura is the oil-trading company which was on receiving end of widespread, and many would say ‘well-deserved’, opprobrium  when the waste products of the Probo Koala were dumped in and around Abidjan.   The Probo Koala was used, by Trafigura, as a floating treatment plant in which coker naphtha was ‘washed’ with sodium hydroxide to produce gasoline of a quality which didn’t meet European standards but could be sold legitimately in parts of Africa.  The waste from this treatment was dumped by Company Tommy in Abidjan.

 

The main thrust of the article I ignore but the following paragraph is worth picking up on,

The injunction concerned a draft report which had been stolen from Trafigura’s offices and then passed to the Guardian – “the Minton report”. The stolen document had been commissioned by Trafigura’s Solicitors, and was prepared by John Minton of an environmental consultancy at their request, in the immediate aftermath of the incident in the Ivory Coast. [Calum’s emphasis] It was also a report based not on any factual investigation or analysis but based on hypothetical ideas as to what may have happened to the slops from the Probo Koala in the Ivory Coast. So, the “report” was in fact a confidential, legally privileged document which had been stolen and illegally passed to the Guardian. The report had also been quickly and authoritatively superseded by a Dutch government analysis of the actual slops themselves, and there had therefore been no need for Trafigura or anyone else to rely on it any further.’

 

Only after the waste was dumped and the incident became public did Trafigura commission Minton to carry out a desk study of the possible products of the sodium hydroxide washing of the coker naphtha.

But Trafigura knew, before the treatment was carried out on the Probo Koala, that it produced waste which was difficult to dispose of.  Their own emails highlight this.

 

Given this difficulty would it not have been reasonable for Trafigura to have had a

-   desk study carried out before treatment started on the Probo Koala

-   study carried out on the waste after treatment and before the attempted disposal in Amsterdam

 

 

Would a responsible company not have undertaken these two actions?

 

 

Trafigura did neither.

 

                                                                                                              

5 comments:

  1. "In case any have forgotten, Trafigura is the oil-trading company which...."

    Yup. I had forgotten. Big companies behaving in morally (and/or legally) corrupt ways are not really news to me. It's what they do.

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  2. "Big companies behaving in morally (and/or legally) corrupt ways are not really news to me. It's what they do."

    .... and so we should ignore this?

    NEVER!!

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  3. I didn't suggest we should ignore, but I personally had forgotten; and you are back to remind me.

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  4. You see, the whole story was a self-delusional fantasy by the Eco-hyaterics and their journo lackeys.

    Probo Koala Disaster Never Happened'
    NIS News Bulletin, THE HAGUE, 29/10/11

    The disaster with the 'poison ship' Probo Koala in 2006 never happened. That people died was a Greenpeace invention reproduced by the media, says journalist Jaffe Vink, who has written a book about the question.

    The Probo Koala was a ship belonging to oil trader Trafigura. From Amsterdam, it was said to have dumped a poisoned cargo in Ivory Coast, causing dozens of deaths and injuring thousands. But the poison was not damaging and killed nobody at all, Vink concludes.

    In his book, The Poision Ship, Vink sharply criticises De Volkskrant, which described the death agony of two girls. "As if they stood there with their nose on it. They sat behind their desk fantasising. This is disaster porn. No research, no analysis, but a fantasised death scene of two girls in the style of thick kitch."

    Vink comments that De Volkskrant was not the only one to conclude based on information from Greenpeace that a deathly disaster had occurred. "Nearly all and everyone ran after it, from NOS Journaal to the Lower House. (...) The Probo Koala is no poison scandal, but a journalistic scandal."

    Vink explains how he established that nobody died due to the Probo Koala's activities. "The chief suspect was hydrogen sulphide, a gas that can indeed be very poisonous. There was H (hydrogen) in the waste and S (sulphur), but these two elements can only become hydrogen sulphide (H2S) with a acidity value (pH) of 7. But the pH of the waste was 14. In such an environment, hydrogen sulphide cannot exist."

    It is true that the waste stank horribly. "That was mainly due to the mercaptans. These are sulphur-containing substances that are found in oil and also elsewhere in nature. You can get a headache from this and become queasy. But you are not going to die."

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  5. Thanks Gary for highlighting Jaffe Vink's book.

    There is nothing in the Vink extract I have read nor is there anything in your comment which addresses the questions I posed in my post.

    "Only after the waste was dumped and the incident became public did Trafigura commission Minton to carry out a desk study of the possible products of the sodium hydroxide washing of the coker naphtha.

    But Trafigura knew, before the treatment was carried out on the Probo Koala, that it produced waste which was difficult to dispose of. Their own emails highlight this.

    Given this difficulty would it not have been reasonable for Trafigura to have had a

    - desk study carried out before treatment started on the Probo Koala

    - study carried out on the waste after treatment and before the attempted disposal in Amsterdam

    Would a responsible company not have undertaken these two actions?

    Trafigura did neither.
    "

    I haven't seen you or Trafigura address the following basic points raised many, many times before:

    Trafigura emails show that they were aware for months about the difficulty and expense of disposing of the waste from caustic washing but yet both in Amsterdam and Abidjan these difficulties were, apparently, as nothing to Trafigura.

    Trafigura should have known disposal in the Netherlands would be expensive and should have known, even if there were reception facilities in Abidjan, that there were no suitable disposal facilities.


    Gary, will you address them now?

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