Thursday, 8 December 2011

Trafigura: Not the Whole Truth 11 - Abidjan and MARPOL


A series of posts in which I highlight areas where Trafigura, or those whose writing is supportive of them, does not tell the whole truth. There will be truth, possibly a lot of truth, in the statements I look at but all is not as it seems. I don’t allege that the ‘Not the Whole Truth’s are deliberate.

I stay with the third paragraph on page 4 (the 1st page of text) for this short extract [in Trafigura’s own document: Trafigura and the Probo Koala.]

The Ivory Coast was also a MARPOL signatory and Abidjan was explicitly registered to handle slops disposal.

Page 8 states in similar fashion:

Given that the Ivory Coast is a MARPOL signatory, it is entirely appropriate that the port was equipped to handle slops.

There is an issue of whether MARPOL applies to the Probo Koala’s waste: this is part of Trafigura’s appeal in Amsterdam.  I’ll deal with this later.

Once more I agree with all of these two quotes but, unfortunately, they are:

Not the whole truth


These sentences suggest to me that Abidjan was capable of receiving and treating all forms of slops.  One might even read into this that Abidjan was qualified to receive and treat the Probo Koala’s waste.

But this isn’t true. Let’s ignore the Probo Koala for a moment.

MARPOL requires only that a port has the facilities to receive slops.  There is no requirement that ports have the facilities to treat and dispose of all forms of slops.  A ship’s obligations require it to only discharge its waste into a port reception facility.  Its obligations end with the transfer to port facilities. 

As a major charterer of ships, Trafigura would know marine law and MARPOL inside out and should have known that once wastes were received by a port they moved into that nation’s waste programme.  Trafigura should also have known that many countries do not have effective national waste programmes.

An acknowledged expert in MARPOL and other waste ‘treaties’, the late Louise Angelique de La Fayette, wrote:

Unfortunately, even where port facilities are adequate, there often remains a problem after ships’ wastes are discharged in port, due to inadequate disposal facilities on land for all kinds of waste.  Many developing countries (and even some developed countries) do not have well-functioning general waste management and disposal systems.’  [Sound Management of Wastes Generated at Sea: Environmental Policy and Law, 39/4-5 (2009)]

Now remember that the Probo Koala’s waste was known by Trafigura to be difficult to dispose of with few sites worldwide willing and able to dispose of spent caustic.

Trafigura’s statements above are reassuring but Ms de LA Fayette’s paper alone should remove Trafigura’s certainty.


Did Abidjan have ‘well-functioning general waste management and disposal systems.’? 


There are so many ‘Not the whole truth’s in this tale that I can hope to list only a few. In my next post I’ll look at another reassuring sentence from Trafigura on this same topic.

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