Monday, 5 December 2011

Trafigura: Not the Whole Truth 7– More Hydrogen Sulphide


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.

[Update: 6 Dec 2011 @ 13.10 Please read this post in conjunction with the update posted here]

I apologise again for my circumspection: I do not want Carter-ruck to come calling because I have libelled Trafigura and so I write what I can defend.

If you haven’t read Part 6 then you should do so now because then this post will make more sense, I think.  After the heaviness of Part 6 this is a light and simple post.


In Part 6 I wrote that hydrogen sulphide was released in Amsterdam from the facilities of APS when the Probo Koala’s waste was in the system.  Because of the size and complexity of APS’ plant the scientists at NFI – see here for their report in English – could not state with absolute certainty that the Probo Koala’s waste was the cause although they were confident that it was.


But there is more ‘Not the Whole Truth’ to the hydrogen sulphide story!


In their document, “Trafigura and the Probo Koala” on page 24 Trafigura pose and answer a question.

‘So where did this idea of hydrogen sulphide come from?
The hydrogen sulphide allegations came in large part from a misinterpretation by the BBC and other media entities of a report carried out on samples of the slops out by the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI).

In the course of testing for composition, the NFI acidified a part of the sample to a pH of 1. Under those extremely acidic conditions, conversion of the sulphides and bisulphides can occur, thereby creating and releasing hydrogen sulphide.

The NFI Report stated that the slops registered a pH of 14, a reading that was extremely alkaline. Crucially, there is no evidence to suggest that conditions at any of the Abidjan dump sites were sufficiently acidic to effect a change in the slops that would mean that the slops would generate hydrogen sulphide to such an extent that they could have caused harm to human health as alleged.’


Not the whole truth!


Trafigura  answer the question to show that hydrogen sulphide couldn’t have formed in Abidjan after dumping but they might also have chosen the extract I used in Part 6 -  from page 27 of the same NFI report:

Don’t worry about ‘DAF’ – a process within APS’ treatment or the sample numbers.  Again I have emphasised a portion.

If compounds spread through the air, only gases and volatile compounds are significant. Regarding the Probo Koala waste water, this involved hydrogen sulphide (H2S) and methyl- and ethylmercaptans.

At pH 14 (the pH of the Probo Koala waste water), however, these compounds dissolve well in water. Only after the addition of sufficient acid can they be removed. The pH of samples [4-1A] and [4-2A] svos from the DAF (svos 1.019 and 1.021) is 7.8.

The pH is the result of adding acid during the neutralization stage of the DAF process and from the large quantity of water from Tank 9 with which the Probo Koala waste was most probably mixed and whose pH value will generally be much lower than 14.

At a pH of 7.8 volatile mercaptans and hydrogen sulphide may be released as gases, but that does not mean that this occurs to 100%

and said hydrogen sulphide couldn’t have formed in Abidjan but it did in Amsterdam.

Here was another opportunity to put more truth into the public domain but Trafigura didn’t take it.


Not the whole truth!

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