Friday, 23 December 2011

Trafigura: More on Guilty Verdict

 

Herewith more information on the guilty verdict from de Rechtspraak

Fine imposed on Trafigura

Amsterdam  , 23-12-2011

In appellate proceedings the Amsterdam Court of Appeal has rendered judgement today in the criminal cases against Trafigura Beheer B.V. (Trafigura), Amsterdam Port Services B.V. (APS) and the municipality of Amsterdam. The Court of Appeal sentenced Trafigura to a fine of €1,000,000.

Probo Koala
The issue in these cases is a tanker, the Probo Koala, on charter to Trafigura. On board the Probo Koala washes of contaminated naphtha were carried out for Trafigura. Trafigura offered the waste materials generated in this process to APS for processing. The composition of this waste turned out to contain substances the processing of which would lead to substantially higher costs than had been agreed on. When it turned out Trafigura was unwilling to pay these higher costs, APS wanted to return this waste and to that end pump it back into the Probo Koala. This was forbidden by the police, the Public Prosecution Service and the municipal environmental health department as the Probo Koala was not a recognized waste processor. After APS had had consultations with the municipal environmental health department, this department agreed to the waste being pumped back into the Probo Koala after all, and the tanker subsequently headed to Ivory Coast with the waste.

Trafigura
The Court of Appeal considers proved that Trafigura failed to disclose the hazardous character of the waste to APS, and moreover that Trafigura illegally exported the waste to Ivory Coast after it had been given back by APS. For this the Court of Appeal, like the Court of first instance, imposes a fine of €1,000,000. The Court of Appeal believes the requirements on waste producing companies are justifiably very strict when it comes to the handing over and disposal of this waste in an environmentally sound manner. This is an important aspect of worldwide socially responsible entrepreneurship. The fact that as a globally operating group of companies Trafigura could not have been unaware of this weighs heavily in the Court of Appeal’s judgement. In its judgement the Court of Appeal has also taken into consideration the wave of negative publicity and the damage to Trafigura’s image it caused; this, as well as the positive contribution to global welfare in the form of the Trafigura Foundation. In its judgement the Court of Appeal has also taken a ruling of the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas into account.

APS
The Court of Appeal also considers proved that APS handed over waste to the Probo Koala, being a non-recognized processor, and in doing so has violated the Environmental Management Act [Wet milieubeheer]. Like the Court of first instance, the Court of Appeal considers APS not liable to punishment, however, as APS could go by the notification of municipal environmental health department that this handing over was permitted. APS is therefore discharged from further prosecution.

Municipality of Amsterdam
The Court of Appeal, like the Court of first instance, establishes that the municipality of Amsterdam has immunity from prosecution as the granting of permission to pump back waste or failure to take enforcement action is an action performed in the scope of an exclusive administrative responsibility assigned to the municipality. Prosecution of the municipality of Amsterdam is therefore barred.

Trafigura !!

 

 

 

GUILTY2

Trafigura: Still Guilty

 

I have emerged from my self-imposed hibernation but for a few minutes only.

The Dutch Appeal court found Trafigura guilty of the illegal export of waste to Abidjan and imposed a fine of 1 million euros: the same fine was imposed last year when Trafigura was found guilty of this offence.

Greenpeace has issued a press release which you can read in Dutch here but I append a better translation courtesy of Greenpeace Google Translate’s version in English. [Note: Post originally published with Google Translate version of press release]

Court confirms: Trafigura exported highly toxic waste
Amsterdam, 23 December 2011

The Appeal Court has found Trafigura's guilty of illegal export of waste from the Netherlands to Africa and for "concealing the harmful nature of the waste for life and health" when the company submitted it for processing in Amsterdam. It has fined Trafigura ? 1 million. Greenpeace is pleased that the international environmental crimes committed by Trafigura has been punished by the Dutch court. The decision of the Amsterdam Court of Appeal does justice to the international Basel Convention, that is intended to protect countries with weak environmental legislation against waste dumping.
The Basel Convention provides protection for people and the environment against the hazards of waste. "This decision is a warning to all companies that see Africa as a cheap dump for waste. The court confirmed that the Trafigura chemicals were harmful and highly toxic waste', according to Marietta Harjono, the toxics campaign leader for Greenpeace, which reported the environmental offence in 2006.


Trafigura, the world's second-largest oil trader, smelt a fat profit in 2006 when it bought very low quality coker naphtha with the aim of desulphurising it at sea in tankers like the Probo Koala using a controversial processing method. The waste disposal company APS was lined up to process the unusually odorous and toxic residue in Amsterdam, but Trafigura refused to pay the disposal costs and opted for export to Africa and spent months hawking it round different ports. The Dutch Forensic Institute analysed samples of the hazardous toxic cocktail of naphtha, sodium hydroxide, benzene, sulphide and mercaptide. For a knock-down price, this stinking mess was dumped in and around the densely-populated slums surrounding Ivory Coast's capital, Abidjan. More than a hundred thousand local residents reported health problems. The country's government reported 16 fatalities and paid damages to relatives in 2007.
Since the illegal dumping operation came out in August 2006, Trafigura has spared no expense or effort in squirming out of a conviction and blocking the search for the truth.


The Netherlands is a tax haven for companies like this with international operations, believes Greenpeace. It should stop rewarding perpetrators of environmental crimes like Trafigura with tax incentives to set up offices in the country. Greenpeace has worked for years on the establishment of the Basel Convention and, in 2006, it instigated proceedings against Trafigura, which has registered offices in the Netherlands, for the illegal export of the toxic waste from Amsterdam and the dumping of the waste in Africa. The environmental organisation stands up for the protection of people and the environment, for example by contributing to international treaties and regulations.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Going Back to Sleep Now …. with Music

 

After one month awake I am tired and it’s time for me to go to sleep.  I can’t keep my eyes open long enough to finish my series of posts on Trafigura, not even for the Trafigura appeal verdict which is due today (Dec 15). 

 

There is only one way for me to fall asleep and that is with music.   Perhaps you’ll enjoy the music too.

 

The Carnival Is Over                                                                 The Seekers

 

Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye                                     Leonard Cohen

 

No One Knows I’m Gone                                                               Tom Waits

 

Some Tyrant                                                                               Kate Rusby

 

UPDATE @ 23 January 2012: The original video which showed next was removed by its uploader.  I have replaced it with my video of the same music but with my words sub-titled.

Teach Me, Lord Jesus [John Dunbar Theme]         CalumCarr and John Barry

 

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus (chorus)                                            Hillsong

 

 

Thank you for sharing my waking moments.


Will I awaken again?


Very, very occasionally!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Trafigura: Not the Whole Truth 14 – Minton and NFI

 

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.

There was serious intent behind my last post but here I will look at the issue of how the toxicity of the Probo Koala’s waste is reported by Trafigura.  Trafigura may well have its own unpublished studies but two reports stand out as giving information on toxicity: the ‘super-injuncted’ Minton report and the NFI report [English version here].

‘Minton’ is a rich source of valuable information despite Trafigura saying of it:

Trafigura commissioned Minton, Treharne & Davies Ltd (Minton) to prepare a document, based on purely theoretical information, on what may have happened in Abidjan. This was later to become known as the ‘Minton Report’.
In fact, the Minton Report was never finalised as its contents were importantly superseded within a matter of days by comprehensive analyses of the actual slops. This analysis was carried out by the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI), …
’ [My emphasis]

and

The draft report put forward various generic hypotheses on the effects of certain chemicals and gases, including hydrogen sulphide, which, as it transpired in later analysis, were not present in the actual slops in its molecular form. Yet Minton’s hypotheses would later be seized upon and irresponsibly misinterpreted in certain sections of the media.

Trafigura are correct when they say that the Minton report must be read carefully but there is important information which is relevant to the Probo Koala’s waste but we must be aware too of the limitations of the NFI Report. 

 

My impression is that the NFI has become almost the bible of Trafigura’s waste with the answer to any question contained within. 

Not the whole truth !

 

I regard the NFI report very, very highly but we must remember that their study was initiated by an odour incident in Amsterdam and, as such, their interest was in volatile compounds which could be released from the waste during the treatment carried out in Amsterdam.  NFI analysed both organic and aqueous phases but, for their modelling on the movement and toxicity of volatile compounds once released in to the atmosphere, only the aqueous layer was considered. [None of the organic layer was discharged or treated. The composition of the oil phase is not dealt with here as it was not discharged at APS and, additionally, it was not processed in the DAF.NFI English version  page 27]

Importantly, the NFI report focuses exclusively on the composition of the waste and its effects in Amsterdam.

 

What (might have) happened in Abidjan is not touched upon in the report.   

 

Certainly we have a good understanding of the composition of the waste and the effect of pH on the release of hydrogen sulphide but we must be aware of reading too much into NFI’s modelling of volatile compound movement and effect.  NFI were dealing with bulk waste – aqueous only – whose pH was known and in only one tank.  Even then the process appears horrendously complex and riven with assumptions about weather and the rate of release of volatile compounds.

They could not, and did not, study waste as it was dumped in Abidjan - in many sites of varying size, depths and situations.

We can use the NFI report to help understand what might have happened in Abidjan.  Let us do that but let us not be blinded to its shortcomings in the Abidjan situation.

 

Let us look at how both reports deal with one compound: sodium hydroxide (caustic soda)

The NFI report does not mention the toxicity of aqueous sodium hydroxide in the waste because it was of no concern to their studies but in Abidjan those who came into direct contact might well have been affected by its corrosive properties. 

Minton says this:

3.1 Sodium hydroxide (NaOH, aqueous solution) is corrosive and can cause severe burns on contact with skin.  Any inhalations of mist would lead to burns within the respiratory system.

The aqueous layer of Trafigura’s waste was contaminated aqueous sodium hydroxide.  What Minton says is relevant but Trafigura has virtually removed the Minton report from discussions on the basis that it was hypothetical and superseded by the NFI report.

 

Neither report is appropriate for the situation in Abidjan: both give pointers and both are severely limited.

Both must be used but with great care.

 

If the waste contained nothing but aqueous sodium hydroxide it would be considered toxic and dangerous to humans.

 

My toxic challenge has not yet been taken up by any Trafigura executive.  The challenge remains open.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Trafigura: Not the Whole Truth 13 – Toxic Challenge

 

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 offer a Toxic Challenge to Claude Dauphin, Eric de Turckheim or any Trafigura executives who wish to support their company!

The facts are that the material was water, gasoline and soda and were not dangerous for human beings.’  [Eric de Turckheim BBC Newsnight 16 August 2007 @2m 02s See video here. Video now available on YouTube @2m 09s]

Toxicity is a matter of concentration and location. Lots of everyday things could be defined as toxic, such as after-shave. Even milk is considered toxic if released into an inappropriate environment.[Page 23 -  Trafigura and the Probo Koala]

 

Not the Whole Truth!


THE TOXIC CHALLENGE

Let’s put these two Trafigura statements to the test.  I’m sure Trafigura could make this happen: they have pots of money whereas I am just a poor man.

Find two swimming pools

Fill one up with full fat milk

Fill the other with waste similar to the Probo Koala’s Abidjan waste: spent caustic plus some gasoline.

I’ll jump in, swim and stay in the milk-filled pool for one hour.

One or all of you can jump in, swim and stay in the spent caustic pool for one hour.

 

I’ll be fine.  I might even drink some of the milk.

 

How will you be?  

Will you drink any of your liquid which is ‘not dangerous for human beings’?

 

[Remember we need to make sure that none of the waste from the pools – yes, including the milk -  is dumped without appropriate treatment.]

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Trafigura: Flaw in MARPOL?

 

This post is a follow-on from my last post – Trafigura and MARPOL - and here I examine if Trafigura’s use of MARPOL as a defence against the illegal exporting of waste shows up a flaw in how MARPOL operates.

Rather than use Trafigura as an example, which might leave me open to criticism or more, I consider the hypothetical cases of the three Carr brothers:

Angus:   absolutely straight and a stickler for the law

Billy:      abides by the law but operates where the best profit is to be found.

Calum:   a chancer!  Lives for and loves profit.  Rules are there to be broken

 

I have chosen the fictional Carr brothers for this story so that I can write without fear.  Any resemblance to a person or company is entirely coincidental. I write only to highlight a flaw in MARPOL.

 

Each of us runs a separate trading company buying and selling liquids for markets worldwide.  Surprisingly, each of us found very similar deals in which a cheap but dirty feedstock was purchased, chemically altered and then traded.  Unfortunately, the waste from the chemical alteration was very toxic, very difficult and very expensive to treat, there being only a few sites worldwide capable of disposing of the waste. 

This is the situation with which each of us had to deal.

Angus wouldn’t consider going outsider Europe for the chemical alteration.  In fact, he found a Dutch company willing to carry out the process and another Dutch company to treat the waste.  'Cost me an arm and a leg’ he said, ‘but still made a good profit’.

Billy found the same Dutch companies but wasn’t prepared to pay the going rate and so he looked for alternatives.  Billy discovered that he could make more profit by carrying out chemical alteration on board a tanker, sailing to market and disposing of the waste under MARPOL but at a port which he knew could and would dispose of the waste safely.  ‘Magic deal, magic profit’.

Calum [the ‘real’ Calum is dead straight but in this story I’ve allowed him to be a disreputable and immoral chancer] found the same Dutch companies, wasn’t prepared to even consider them, decided - like Billy - to use a tanker as a floating chemical plant.  The waste wasn’t much of a problem to me.  I twigged early on that I could characterise the waste as MARPOL Annex 1 and Annex 2 waste.  That was all I needed.  The tanker sailed to market and on the way back home stopped off at a MARPOL port which couldn’t treat the toxic waste properly but was allowed to receive MARPOL Annex 2 waste.  ‘Take that, brothers.  Job done.  Profit beyond dreams.  The waste?  I complied with the law.

 

Each us had the same waste to dispose of.  Angus and Billy made sure that the toxic waste was treated absolutely properly because it was very toxic.  I, Calum, on the other hand, sneaked the waste through under MARPOL at a port where the cost was low, the treatment poor and the toxic waste potentially dumped near a town .  I wasn’t bothered because I was covered by MARPOL.  What happened to the waste was irrelevant once I had discharged it to the port.

 

If Trafigura win their appeal in Amsterdam - all waste produced on board ship is subject only to MARPOL regulations -  then Calum’s approach is legal although I had no regard for the proper treatment of the waste nor for the safety of those who received it, treated it and definitely not for anyone else who might come into contact with the waste.

My brothers were responsible and made a good profit.

I acted irresponsibly, immorally and without regard for anything or anyone other than my profit.

 

From mid-December, my example might be legal.

 

Close this MARPOL loophole NOW!

Friday, 9 December 2011

Trafigura and MARPOL

 

Before you start, I’ll apologise because this post is DRY: it’s the background which then allows me to write an important post in which I will ask if MARPOL is fit for purpose.  In that second post you’ll have the pleasure of meeting the three Carr brothers  - Angus, Billy and Calum.  But first, let’s get the basics done! 

MARPOL is very important to Trafigura, a major charterer of vessels, by enabling its ships to dispose of their normal wastes at any port which is a signatory to MARPOL.  This they can do without notice and at any convenient port.  This facility keeps the world’s shipping moving efficiently.

MARPOL is important to the sea because, without the ease of disposal in port, much more waste would be dumped at sea.

MARPOL is very important to Trafigura in another way but, before I cover that, let me say a little about what MARPOL is.  Rather, let me append what Trafigura has to say.

The handling of ship generated waste, including slops, is regulated by the international convention MARPOL 73/78, [ marine pollution] which is …. one of the most important international marine environmental conventions and it was designed 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 minimisation of accidental discharge of such substances’.’ [Emphasis is mine]

and

Under the MARPOL Convention, each state has the obligation to ensure that it has the necessary facilities to handle ships’ waste efficiently and safely and each vessel has to maintain an oil log book detailing movements in its oil cargoes.

and

All ships flagged under countries that are signatories to MARPOL are subject to its requirements, regardless of where they sail, and member nations are responsible for vessels registered under their respective nationalities.

MARPOL, therefore, ensures that appropriate facilities exist for the disposal of ships waste and once discharged responsibility for the waste switches from the ship to the port and its national requirements.

 

In the Dutch courts last year, Trafigura argued that the Probo Koala’s waste was produced on board ship and was, thus, subject to MARPOL.  The court disagreed stating caustic washing did not fall under the normal operations of a ship and so MARPOL did not apply. 

In the absence of MARPOL, the BASEL Convention applied and, therefore, the court said, that Trafigura needed an export licence to ship the waste from Amsterdam to Abidjan.  There were other legal arguments.  [If you are a glutton for punishment you can read three of my posts here, here and here]

 

Trafigura is challenging its conviction in the Dutch courts with a verdict due in mid-December.  Although I argued for BASEL applying and not MARPOL, I concede, based on my limited knowledge, that Trafigura has a strong case if not a compelling one.

If MARPOL were to apply, Trafigura could have disposed of the Probo Koala’s waste at any MARPOL port regardless of whether there were adequate facilities to treat the waste.

That would not seem right even if it were legal and, as I said at the beginning, I’ll explore this in my next post.  Look out for Angus, Billy and Calum Carr!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Trafigura: Not the Whole Truth 12 – 3000 Mile Truth Gap

 

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.

 

Trafigura had absolutely no reason to believe that the operation in Abidjan would be mishandled.

Indeed, there was nothing to suggest its [Abidjan’s] facilities or personnel were unable to treat the slops from the Probo Koala.

 

So said Trafigura in their 38 page document, ‘Trafigura and the Probo Koala’.

Not the whole truth!

 

Let’s look at other quotes from Trafigura from late 2005 to early 2006.

We have already spoken to all the main storage companies, US / Singapore and European terminals no longer allow the use of caustic soda washes since local environmental agencies do not allow disposal of the toxic caustic after treatment.[Naeem Ahmed Dec 2005]

‘Caustic washes are banned by most countries due to the hazardous nature of the waste (mercaptans, phenols, smell)

suppliers of caustic are unwilling to dispose of the water since there are not many facilities remaining in the market. 

There is a company in Rotterdam that burns such waste in a high stack chimney and charges are approx $200/kg and could have up to 1000kg of sludge after a treatment operation.

Under EU law you no longer allowed to transport such waste across EU borders.’

[All from Naeem Ahmed in Dec 2005.  Claude Dauphin was copied into email]

 

‘Will still need to find a company that will take the waste’

[Naeem Ahmed in Dec 2005]


There is only one specialist disposal company in Rotterdam they charge $250/kg but not allowed to drive across EU borders.

[Naeem Ahmed Dec 2005]

 

We should also be talking to specialist Chemical clean up companies about the process of clean up afterwards ….[James McNicoll Dec 2005]

 

I don’t know how we dispose of the slops and I don’t imply we would dump them

but there must be a way to pay someone to take them.

[Both from Leon Christophilopoulos March 2006]


‘We are coming up with some problems regarding treating/disposing of the PMI naphtha out of Brownsville

We are now limited to caustic washing on a ship.

La Skhirra where we were washing/discharging will not let us discharge this material anymore.

We also still haven’t tackled how we dispose of the washings on board the vessel washing the cargo.’

[All from Leon Christophilopoulos Apr 2006.  Claude Dauphin copied in]

 

and Trafigura:

describe their waste to be typical MARPOL waste which could be treated at any sophisticated port with reception facilities

never identified Abidjan as a port with the specialist facilities needed to treat their waste

said, ‘Indeed, there was nothing to suggest its [Abidjan’s] facilities or personnel were unable to treat the slops from the Probo Koala.

 

Again, as we saw in Amsterdam, Trafigura’s pre-knowledge of the process and its waste is totally incompatible with their later actions and words.

 

There is a truth gap the size of the distance between Amsterdam and Abidjan.

 

Only Trafigura can fill this gap with their knowledge, with truth.  Until they do it will fill with speculation.

 

 

 

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.

Trafigura: Enforcing the Truth Gap

 

This is a little diversion albeit an important one.  On his excellent blog Richard Wilson posts – under Parliamentary Privilege – an extract from the testimony of Alan Rusbridger of the Guardian to the Culture Media and Sports Committee which Rusbridger describes the pressure put on the Guardian by both Carter-Ruck and Bell Pottinger.

This is not new information – there is little new information unfortunately - but it is extremely relevant because of the current revelations about Bell-Pottinger.

Thanks Richard!

Please read Richard’s post.

 

Using exactly the same Parliamentary Privilege I append a different part of Rusbridger’s evidence to the Culture Media and Sports Committee.

‘Along with others of the European media and the BBC, we have recently been subject to what we regard as a prolonged campaign of legal harassment by Carter-Ruck on behalf of London-based oil traders, Trafigura.

Trafigura arranged the illegal dumping of 500 tons of highly toxic oil waste in the West African country of Cote d'Ivoire. Thousands of the population of Abidjan, the capital, subsequently became ill and, after a bitterly fought law suit, Trafigura has now been forced to pay a degree of compensation to the victims.

Carter-Ruck, like such other firms as Schillings, are trying to carve out for themselves a slice of the lucrative market known as 'reputation management'. This is not about the perfectly proper job of helping people or organisations gain legal redress when they have been mistreated by the press.

It is a pitch to work with PR firms to pressurize and intimidate journalists in advance on behalf of big business. It exploits the oppressive nature and the frightening expense of British libel laws.

Carter-Ruck's boasts on their website are appended [APPENDIX 1].

After the toxic waste dumping in 2006, Trafigura embarked on what was essentially a cover story. They used Carter-Ruck and PR specialists Bell Pottinger, working in concert to enforce their version on the media.

The cover story was that Trafigura used a tanker for normal 'floating storage' of gasoline. They had then, they claimed, discharged the routine tank-washing 'slops', which were harmless, to a disposal company, and had no responsibility whatever for the subsequent disaster.

In fact, Trafigura had deliberately used a primitive chemical process to make cheap contaminated gasoline more saleable, and knew the resultant toxic waste was impossible to dispose of legally in Europe.

The Guardian experienced an intimidatory approach repeatedly in the Trafigura case. Other journalists at BBC Newsnight, the Norwegian state broadcaster NRK and the Dutch newspaper Volkskrant, told us of identical threats. The BBC eventually received a libel writ. NRK were the subject of a formal complaint - eventually rejected - to the Norwegian press ethics body.

 

Many are certain, as is Rusbridger, of the truth of the Trafigura saga.  They  saw the truth gap and, I assume, saw no way to bridge that beyond the view expressed by Rusbridger.  I understand why this view is held and why that view remains dominant and will do so until Trafigura fill in the gap with truth.

I posted about Rusbridger’s evidence in March 2010 and I close with the last sentence of that post.

Legal action, or the threat of legal action, does not turn untruth into truth or, for that matter, truth into untruth.

 

 

Trafigura: Not the Whole Truth 10 – Abidjan and Slops

 

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.

After a few posts away I return to Trafigura’s 38 page document, “Trafigura and the Probo Koala”.  I am still on page 4, where I was for posts 1 to 5 in this series but I’ve moved to the third paragraph a portion of which I have appended.

‘Abidjan is not a remote, third world backwater as implied by some media reports: it is a major African port and industrial city, the country is a major crude oil producer and exporter, it has a refinery adjacent to the port and other modern industrial facilities. In addition to the handling of wastes from refining oil, slops have been discharged there without incident many times before by international companies, including oil majors. [My emphasis]

I do not disagree with any of this provided I omit the words ‘without incident : I have no information to support or deny this.  With this proviso I accept that Trafigura has written the truth.

Later in the same document  - page 8 they write in a similar vein.

Since 1965, the port had been handling oil-related cargoes for a number of major oil companies and was therefore experienced in operations relating to slops from vessels.

Again these are words I agree with but ….

A huge truth is hidden.

Not the whole truth!

 

I wrote about this very issue in the third post - Not the Whole Truth 3 – ‘An Everyday Occurrence’? – and I make no apologies for reproducing much of that post here.  What I wrote then is directly relevant to Trafigura’s statement about Abidjan.

_____

The highlighted sentence in the context of the paragraph implies, in my view, that the Probo Koala’s waste was of a type normally or routinely discharged – ‘an everyday occurrence’ - but the waste was far from routine and Trafigura’s emails show they knew that it was not routine waste.

In December 2005, Naeem Ahmed sent an email – cc-ing Claude Dauphin – which stated:

I have approached all our storage terminals with the possibility of Caustic washing and only Vopak Fujairah and Tankmed La Skhirra our (sic) willing to entertain the idea, and currently perform this operation at FRCL (Fujairah) only.  This operation is no longer allowed in EU / US / Singapore.

Caustic washes are banned by most countries due to the hazardous nature of the waste (mercaptans, phenols, smell) and suppliers of caustic are unwilling to dispose of the water since there are not many facilities remaining in the market.  There is a company in Rotterdam that burns such waste in a high stack chimney and charges are approx $200/kg and could have up to 1000kg of sludge after a treatment operation.  Under EU law you no longer allowed to transport such waste across EU borders.

Here Trafigura are looking at caustic washing the coker naphtha on land but they are struggling to find any company to do so because the process is banned or because the waste is difficult and expensive to dispose of.

According to the Judgment of the Dutch Court, “The washing of gasoline is an industrial process that, up until that point, had always been carried out in appropriate installations on land, …

I have seen no evidence that caustic washing of coker naphtha had ever been carried out on board ship before Trafigura used the Probo Koala.

If this was the first time this process had been carried out on board ship, then disposal of the Probo Koala’s cannot be described as ‘an everyday occurrence’.

If ‘suppliers of caustic are unwilling to dispose of the water since there are not many facilities remaining in the market’ then disposal of the Probo Koala’s waste cannot be described as ‘an everyday occurrence’.

If ‘Caustic washes are banned by most countries due to the hazardous nature of the waste (mercaptans, phenols, smell) then disposal of the Probo Koala’s waste cannot be described as an everyday occurrence’.

‘(A)n everyday occurrence’?

Not the whole truth !

The information in this post not only shows ‘not the whole truth’ it begs the question, ‘How could Trafigura not ensure that the waste was disposed of by one of the ‘not many facilities remaining in the market.

_____

 

Here we have the same ‘Not the whole truth’ in Abidjan as in Amsterdam.  Surely the same missing information, the same missing truth, will allow us to understand the dichotomy.  Trafigura, if it so wished, could put the missing truth into the public domain today.

Well?

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Trafigura: Not the Whole Truth 9 – Amsterdam Truth Gap

 

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.

In my 8th post in this series I said that “My next post will give more details of what NFI’s modelling predicts for the effects of odour release from APS.”  Apologies!  I felt that the point was made in No. 8 and that any more was overly labouring the issue.

Here I summarise what we know Trafigura knew about the caustic washing of coker naphtha before Trafigura committed the Probo Koala to sail to Amsterdam.  Alongside this I put their actions in Amsterdam (before, during and after the visit).  I contend that the two are irreconcilable and can only become reconcilable when more information, more truth comes into the public domain. 

This extra truth, which we don’t have yet, I call the ‘truth gap’.  It’s what we need to understand Trafigura’s actions.  Without the new truth we can speculate but speculation leaves us open to Carter-Ruck getting in touch. 

 

Far better to highlight and keep highlighting the truth gap.

Far better to highlight and keep highlighting those areas which don’t stack up.

Far better to ask and keep asking Trafigura to answer questions.

Far better to highlight and keep highlighting those questions Trafigura does not answer (if there are any).

 

Enough of this.  It’s time to identify the truth gap in Amsterdam.

 

PICTABLE3

 

What goes into the Truth Gap?

Trafigura: Greenpeace Responds to Criticism

 

Almost 3 weeks ago I published a post which detailed criticism of Greenpeace and the news media with whom they cooperated.  Although I didn’t agree with the criticisms, in the interests of balance, I posted.

Today I put online an English translation of Greenpeace’s response which is a slightly modified version of their own Dutch release from 18 November.  An English version has been available through Google Translate but was difficult to read.  Please take the time to read this article: many issues are addressed although I must add the caveat that the views expressed are those of Greenpeace.

There will be some who say that my publication of this translation confirms I am in the pocket of Greenpeace.  No!   If you are in doubt please read, for example, my initial post of 3 weeks ago in which I gave a platform to criticism of Greenpeace.  I have my views but I try to write in a balanced way although that can be difficult when questions are not answered, where a truth gap exists.

 

Greenpeace give their views on the:

-  work of Karel Knip and Jaffe Vink both of whom have written in support of Trafigura and criticising Greenpeace and others.

-  toxicity debate surrounding the Probo Koala’s waste

-  question of whether hydrogen sulphide could have been released in Abidjan

-  question of the number of fatalities – if any – in Abidjan

-  conspiracy theories of Knip and Vink: Greenpeace and media

-  use Trafigura make of the law

Please read the article – online here.  I would do a disservice if I picked more than this last paragraph:

Trafigura is lucky to have opinion leaders like Vink and Knip. Constantly banging on about things that are impossible to establish now - such as the precise details of the impact of the waste on people and the environment - is a distraction from the basic issue at stake: the fact that Trafigura should never have dumped the waste in Ivory Coast in the way it did.

 

I need to clarify the last 18 words

‘the fact that Trafigura should never have dumped the waste in Ivory Coast in the way it did.

We all know that Trafigura itself did not dump the waste in and around Abidjan: that was done by Company Tommy.  I believe the article is saying that Trafigura should never have taken its waste to Ivory Coast.  Please read these last 18 words in the way I have described.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Trafigura: Not the Whole Truth 8: Not Low Risk in Amsterdam

 

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.

 

In July last year, a Dutch court found Trafigura guilty of hiding the real nature of the Probo Koala’s waste when it arrived in Amsterdam [See AFP]

I reported previously how the Probo Koala’s waste did not meet the acceptance criteria for APS’ quote; how Trafigura could / should have known that this was the case.

Because they misled APS, according to the Dutch court, Trafigura’s waste went into the low- risk treatment stream.

In the first post of the series I wrote:

‘According to the NFI Report, upon which Trafigura has relied to support its views,

The waste water from the Probo Koala was accepted by APS as low-risk material.”

but it wasn’t “low-risk”.’

In this low–risk stream the pH of the aqueous waste was reduced to a point at which hydrogen sulphide could be released.  NFI used modelling techniques to predict the effects of the release of hydrogen sulphide and other compounds on the surrounding area under different weather conditions, different amounts of waste treated and different amounts of mercaptans and hydrogen sulphide released.

My next post will give more details of what NFI’s modelling predicts for the effects of odour release from APS but here I give only one prediction.

Discussion of scenario B: 3.6 g/s mercaptans and 0.25 g/s H2S
In all weather conditions there was an unpleasant smell up to a large distance from the source (approx. 1.5 km) as a consequence of exceeding the VRW for (mainly) mercaptans. This distance may
extend to 7 km in the most unfavourable circumstances (for spreading) (D 1.5).  In this part scenario there is probably no overshooting of the AGW in the surroundings. In this scenario the area with possible effects from exceeding the AGW for mercaptans (nausea and headaches) is restricted to APS’s premises.’

NOTE 1: Of all the predictions this is the one with the smallest effect.  All others give greater effects.

NOTE 2:  VRW = This is the concentration of a substance that would most probably be experienced by most of the exposed population as a nuisance. Above the VRW level, slight, rapidly reversible health effects are possible. The VRW is often the concentration at which exposed individuals begin to complain of their awareness of exposure. Complaints of smell.

NOTE 3:  AGW =  This is the concentration of a substance at which irreversible or other serious health damage may occur due to direct toxic effects. Nausea and headaches.

These predictions were made on the basis of the amount of Trafigura’s waste NFI believed was actually treated.  If larger or smaller amounts had been treated then the effect might have been greater or smaller respectively.

Even if, as APS assert – see last post, none of the Probo Koala’s waste was processed the treatment conditions – addition of acid and dilution with water - were such that hydrogen sulphide would have been released when its treatment started.

 

What is clear is that by telling ‘Not the whole truth’  Trafigura risked a more serious incident in Amsterdam.

 

I leave you with this quote from page 36 of the translated NFI report.

It is established that the processing of one or more litres of Probo Koala waste can cause the VRW to be exceeded, irrespective of the type of weather.

Trafigura: Not the Whole Truth - Update to Nos. 6 & 7

 

Yesterday I reported that, according to the NFI report, the Probo Koala’s waste almost certainly caused a release of hydrogen sulphide at the Amsterdam facilities of APS, the company to whom the waste was discharged.

Late last night I received some information – not from APS or Trafigura – that cast doubt on one aspect of the NFI report. 

Based on the NFI report, the public prosecutor in Amsterdam last year apparently highlighted the release of hydrogen sulphide from the Probo Koala’s waste but APS stated in court that none of that waste was processed and, therefore, the hydrogen sulphide released did not come from the Probo Koala’s waste.

Even if the APS view is correct, and this is not known yet, my reading of the NFI report shows that the Probo Koala’s waste would have produced hydrogen sulphide had it been treated.

 

There is, therefore, some confusion about what actually happened and I await more information before I can judge the seriousness of the doubt.  Until I get this information I will leave posts 6 and 7 unchanged other than putting in a link to this post.

 

UPDATE 6 Dec@ 17.40:  You may wonder why I flagged up this issue, why didn’t I leave it.

I hope this doesn’t seem high and mighty but truth matters, my integrity matters!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Very, Very Occasionally with Per-Olov

 

Two videos from the classical guitarist, Per-Olov Kindgren.  I’d never heard of him either!   But … wow!

J S Bach   Air on a G String                                              Per-Olov Kindgren

 

and then

Astor Piazzolla     Milonga del Angel                               Per-Olov Kindgren

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!

Trafigura: Not the Whole Truth 6 – Amsterdam 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]

Hydrogen sulphide was released from the Probo Koala’s waste. [Update 5 Dec 2011 @ 18.57: For my protection I need to remove the absolute certainty in that opening sentence by adding ‘Almost certainly’ at the start.  I was circumspect elsewhere in the post but I missed this. Apologies.]

In Amsterdam.

Yes!  In Amsterdam!

I don’t recall anyone mentioning this before.  Of course, I could be wrong.  Certainly I have found no record of Trafigura stating that hydrogen sulphide was released from the Probo Koala’s waste during APS’ treatment.  If they have then I’m sure they’ll correct me.

I had missed this nugget many times previously but then, at last, I saw!

 

Trafigura make much of the fact that, because of the alkaline nature of the waste, hydrogen sulphide could not be released from the waste dumped in Abidjan.  Their source is the much-quoted NFI report which, incidentally, was commissioned because of the smell from – almost certainly - the Probo Koala’s waste in Amsterdam and not because of the waste’s dumping in Abidjan.

I haven’t found any mention by Trafigura that the Probo Koala’s waste caused the release of hydrogen sulphide in Amsterdam nor even that the PK’s waste might have caused the release.

 

Not the whole truth!

 

I go back now to Trafigura’s 38 page document, “Trafigura and the Probo Koala”.   The first 5 posts came from the first 6 sentences in this paper but I move forward …. for this post only but I apologise here for the complexity of the post.  This was necessary for my legal protection.  I can’t afford to make any unsupported allegations.

On page 7, Trafigura writes about the impossibility of hydrogen sulphide release in Abidjan:

‘The NFI Report stated that the slops registered a pH of 14, a reading that was extremely alkaline. At this level it was impossible, firstly, for the material to contain hydrogen sulphide in its molecular form ….

and on page 23:

‘The NFI Report found that the slops were highly alkaline which means that they could simply not have contained hydrogen sulphide in its molecular form. As stated by the NFI witness (FJM Bakker) in the Amsterdam criminal proceedings of 11th May 2010 the slops have ‘to be diluted millions of times before hydrogen sulphide is released, or you must add acid’.  [My emphasis]

and adding acid is exactly what happened to the slops in Amsterdam!

 

Page 27 of the NFI Report (English version) states. [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%

 

The explanation given by the NFI witness for the release of hydrogen sulphide from the Probo Koala’s waste actually happened  .… in Amsterdam.

 

The same page of the report also states:

‘Conclusion: methyl- and ethylmercaptans and hydrogen sulphide are in all probability the most important compounds released on 3rd July.

While the Probo Koala’s waste was in APS’ facilities, hydrogen sulphide was released.

 

The NFI scientists carried out an extremely rigorous analysis of the odour incident - I have confidence in their work – but they do not say with absolute certainty that the cause of the hydrogen sulphide release was the Probo Koala’s waste.  They conclude:

It may be posited that, in view of the considerations contained in the analysis report, the results of the comparative analysis are a better fit with hypothesis 1 (the components encountered in the samples from the DAF installation come from Probo Koala/Main VII) than with hypothesis 2 (the components encountered in the samples from the DAF installation come from another source).

That the scientists use ‘better fit’ might lead some to argue that without certainty the Probo Koala cannot be found guilty. I think the scientists cover this off.

Also in the conclusions to the report the risk to human health is considered and here only two scenarios are considered and each involves the Probo Koala’s waste.

Although there is no certainty, the only position which is written with any confidence is that in which the Probo Koala’s waste was the cause of the incident.  Nowhere in the report, I believe, is succour given to the counter-argument.

Trafigura: Not the Whole Truth - Post Delayed

 

Apologies. 

I had hoped to have another post up yesterday (Sunday 4 Dec) but, because of the potential sensitivity to the claim I make, I am checking and rechecking my facts.

I do NOT intend to leave myself open to Carter-Ruck!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Trafigura: Not the Whole Truth 5 – Price Hike & COD

 

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.

In the first four posts I haven’t got past the first paragraph in Trafigura’s 38 page document, “Trafigura and the Probo Koala” – on page 4 after the index but I move forward now …..

…. to the second sentence (highlighted) in the second paragraph. Below is the entire paragraph – remember this is the 5th post in the series and I’m only on the sixth sentence of the paper.

Trafigura appointed a licensed operator, Amsterdam Port Services BV (APS), to handle the treatment of the slops. After receiving the slops on their barge in Amsterdam, APS increased its price for treatment of the slops by 3,000% without justification. [My emphasis] Trafigura rejected APS’ offer and departed Amsterdam for Paldiski, Estonia where it was due to collect a cargo.

Not the Whole Truth!

 

I don’t know the basis on which APS increased the price 30-fold but the agreed waste did not meet the specification: not by a long, long way.

APS stipulated that the Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) value – a simple measure of water quality and of its polluting ability - should be less than 2000 mg/l but the average value, as reported by NFI  (Netherlands Forensic Institute), was 600000 mg/l. [For a definition of COD see the end of this post.]

The Probo Koala’s waste exceeded the stipulated limit 300-fold (or by 30,000%).  On this basis alone, APS had a right to review the charges.

 

Later in Trafigura’s document - on page 7 - is this:

APS claimed the Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) level of the slops was higher than the figure than they had anticipated but provided no test results to substantiate the claim.

APS expected that the waste’s COD would not exceed 2000mg/l as agreed by Trafigura.  APS may not have provided test results but the first result they gave - 500,000 mg/l – now looks to have been accurate.  I must state also that APS later gave a much lower figure of 20,000 mg/l.

Trafigura should have expected the waste’s COD to exceed the limit set by APS.  I found on the web this information about the range of CODs to be found in spent caustic:

[From spentcaustic.com]
Typically 10,000 to 100,000 mg/L
Low: 3,000 mg/L
High: 200,000 mg/L

 

The very next sentence on page 7 is:

In reality, while high, the COD level of the slops material was irrelevant ….

Not the whole truth!

 

The COD level did matter.

 

The NFI Report (Dutch version here; English translation here) – 2nd last paragraph in Section 8.2 states

As an example it was calculated what the dilution factor would be on the basis of the COD criteria, taken from page 3 of the TCR. There a maximum of 2000 mg/l is given for the COD (Chemical Oxygen Demand).

This figure is taken from the data for a similar installation in Rotterdam.  The Report states that design changes and/or experience may lead to a different maximum at APS.

The maximum COD of 2000 mg/l above is the same maximum given in the APS quote which Trafigura accepted.  The NFI Report continues:


The COD measured in the Probo Koala waste varies from 450000 (measured by ATM, see svo 3.002), 650000 measured by APS 4, to the value 720000 mg/l measured by Omegam and cited in this report; the average is 600000 mg/l.

The Probo Koala’s waste massively exceeded the maximum level with which the process could cope.  The Report goes on:


This means that the waste water from the Probo Koala must be diluted by a factor of 300 to remain within the limits of the original design criteria.

The average measured COD was 600000 mg/l which when diluted by 300 ==>  2000mg/l: the design limit.

 

Not the whole truth, indeed!

___________________________

 

Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD)

In environmental chemistry, the chemical oxygen demand (COD) test is commonly used to indirectly measure the amount of organic compounds in water. Most applications of COD determine the amount of organic pollutants found in surface water (e.g. lakes and rivers) or wastewater, making COD a useful measure of water quality. It is expressed in milligrams per liter (mg/L), which indicates the mass of oxygen consumed per liter of solution.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Trafigura: Not the Whole Truth 4 – Smell Again

 

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.  [UPDATE: added 21.30 on 3 Dec 2011: I don’t allege that the ‘Not the Whole Truth’s are deliberate.]

In the first three posts I haven’t got past the first paragraph in Trafigura’s 38 page document, “Trafigura and the Probo Koala” – on page 4 after the index. I stay with this paragraph for more about the smell [see post 1], mention of which is missing from Trafigura’s description of the attempted discharge of waste in Amsterdam.

In 2006 Trafigura time chartered the Probo Koala, a tanker, for the transportation of oil products. The vessel carried out a procedure for caustic washing on several cargoes of one such product, coker naphtha, and needed to discharge a relatively small amount of residual waste (often referred to as ‘slops’). Coker naphtha is a commonly available and widely traded product. The discharge and treatment of slops and waste materials from all vessels, including crude oil and product carriers, is an everyday occurrence around the world.’

But they did know about the smell.  In the last post I quoted a Trafigura email.  Here I use an extract:

‘Caustic washes are banned by most countries due to the hazardous nature of the waste (mercaptans, phenols, smell)’

Trafigura knew in December 2005, almost 6 months before the Probo Koala docked in Amsterdam, that the waste would be smelly.

Naeem Ahmed, who sent the email and knew that the waste would be smelly and disposal expensive, was also the person who emailed APS to get a quote for the discharge.  He makes no mention of the smell.  He doesn’t query the cost.

Not the Whole Truth !

 

The APS quote was $36 / cubic meter but the cost Trafigura knew they would have to pay at the specialist company in Rotterdam was $250000 / cubic meter.

Not the Whole Truth !

“On July 23 last year, an Amsterdam court also found Trafigura guilty of hiding the cargo's real nature when it arrived in Amsterdam. Judges however acquitted the company of forgery.” [Courtesy of AFP]

Not the Whole Truth !

Trafigura: Not the Whole Truth 3 – ‘An Everyday Occurrence’?

 

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. [UPDATE: added 21.30 on 3 Dec 2011: I don’t allege that the ‘Not the Whole Truth’s are deliberate.]

In the first two posts I concentrated on the second sentence in Trafigura’s 38 page document, “Trafigura and the Probo Koala” – on page 4 after the index. I move on but not far: the same paragraph but the fourth sentence. I show the entire paragraph but with the fourth sentence highlighted.

In 2006 Trafigura time chartered the Probo Koala, a tanker, for the transportation of oil products. The vessel carried out a procedure for caustic washing on several cargoes of one such product, coker naphtha, and needed to discharge a relatively small amount of residual waste (often referred to as ‘slops’). Coker naphtha is a commonly available and widely traded product. The discharge and treatment of slops and waste materials from all vessels, including crude oil and product carriers, is an everyday occurrence around the world.

The fourth sentence is absolutely true and, as a sentence standing isolated from others, I disagree with not one word …..

…. but yet it conceals a huge truth.

The highlighted sentence in the context of the paragraph implies, in my view, that the Probo Koala’s waste was of a type normally or routinely discharged – ‘an everyday occurrence’ - but the waste was far from routine and Trafigura’s emails show they knew that it was not routine waste.

In December 2005, Naeem Ahmed sent an email – cc-ing Claude Dauphin – which stated:

‘I have approached all our storage terminals with the possibility of Caustic washing and only Vopak Fujairah and Tankmed La Skhirra our (sic) willing to entertain the idea, and currently perform this operation at FRCL (Fujairah) only.  This operation is no longer allowed in EU / US / Singapore.

Caustic washes are banned by most countries due to the hazardous nature of the waste (mercaptans, phenols, smell) and suppliers of caustic are unwilling to dispose of the water since there are not many facilities remaining in the market.  There is a company in Rotterdam that burns such waste in a high stack chimney and charges are approx $200/kg and could have up to 1000kg of sludge after a treatment operation.  Under EU law you no longer allowed to transport such waste across EU borders.’

Here Trafigura are looking at caustic washing the coker naphtha on land but they are struggling to find any company to do so because the process is banned or because the waste is difficult and expensive to dispose of.

According to the Judgment of the Dutch Court, “The washing of gasoline is an industrial process that, up until that point, had always been carried out in appropriate installations on land, …

I have seen no evidence that caustic washing of coker naphtha had ever been carried out on board ship before Trafigura used the Probo Koala.

 

If this was the first time this process had been carried out on board ship, then disposal of the Probo Koala’s cannot be described as ‘an everyday occurrence’.

If ‘suppliers of caustic are unwilling to dispose of the water since there are not many facilities remaining in the market’ then disposal of the Probo Koala’s waste cannot be described as ‘an everyday occurrence’.

If ‘Caustic washes are banned by most countries due to the hazardous nature of the waste (mercaptans, phenols, smell)’ then disposal of the Probo Koala’s waste cannot be described as ‘an everyday occurrence’.

 

(A)n everyday occurrence’? 

Not the whole truth !

The information in this post not only shows ‘not the whole truth’ it begs the question, ‘How could Trafigura not ensure that the waste was disposed of by one of the ‘not many facilities remaining in the market.’  I’ll come back to this in another post.

Trafigura: Not the Whole Truth 2 – Small

 

The second post – first here - in the series of, hopefully, short 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. [UPDATE: added 21.30 on 3 Dec 2011: I don’t allege that the ‘Not the Whole Truth’s are deliberate.]

In the first post I looked at the second sentence in Trafigura’s 38 page document, “Trafigura and the Probo Koala” – on page 4 after the index – and I stay with that sentence here.

That sentence states:

“The vessel carried out a procedure for caustic washing on several cargoes of one such product, coker naphtha, and needed to discharge a relatively small [Calum’s emphasis] amount of residual waste  (often referred to as ‘slops’).”

Small’ is a word with magical properties; is wonderfully non-specific; has no units; its meaning in the eye of the beholder.  Each of us will form a view as to what is ‘a relatively small [Calum’s emphasis] amount of residual waste’ .

What might ‘small’ mean?

litre, gallon, bucketful, barrel, tonne, few tonnes?

In Amsterdam, Trafigura asked to discharge up to 350 cubic meters (cbm)  - approx. 350 tonnes, 350,000kg.  [Updated at 09.30 on Dec 2 2011 to show volume discharged was 350cbm and not 250 as initially stated.  Trafigura’s request for a quote shows 250cbm as the maximum but on their website they state that 350cbm was actually discharged]

350cbm? ‘Small’?   Seems a lot to me.  Eye of the beholder, you see!

The Probo Koala’s waste tanks could hold 948cbm of waste and so 350cbm is 37% of its waste capacity.  Not really small.  Certainly, in terms of the volume of gasoline the Probo Koala could transport – approx 50,000cbm – the volume of waste discharged is small but 350 tonnes is not what I would term ‘small’.

 

But let us not forget that the volume of waste discharged in Abidjan was 508cbm.

 

Small’  ?

Not the whole truth !

 

and remember from the 1st post the key missing information was ‘smell[these 12 words added at 09.35 Dec 2 2011]

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Trafigura: Not the Whole Truth 1 – Smell

 

In this first of a series of, hopefully, short posts I will 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. [UPDATE: added 21.30 on 3 Dec 2011: I don’t allege that the ‘Not the Whole Truth’s are deliberate.]

Today I look at a statement from Trafigura’s 38 page document, “Trafigura and the Probo Koala”.

The second sentence of the document – on page 4 after the index – states:

“The vessel carried out a procedure for caustic washing on several cargoes of one such product, coker naphtha, and needed to discharge a relatively small amount of residual waste (often referred to as ‘slops’).”

Truthful?   Yes! 

The whole truth?  No!

Waste accrued from the normal operations on board ship is called ‘slops’ but waste from caustic washing is called ‘spent caustic’ or as a Trafigura employee called it, ‘toxic caustic’.

The difference in terminology is not simply semantic.

 

According to the NFI Report, upon which Trafigura has relied to support its views,

“The waste water from the Probo Koala was accepted by APS as low-risk material.”

but it wasn’t “low-risk”.

 

There were complaints of a “bad smell”, “irritating smell” and “stench”. 

Where did this smell come from?  The Probo Koala and its spent caustic waste.

How do I know this? 

The NFI Report .… again [I have appended the relevant part of the NFI Report at the end of the post but should you want to read the whole report you can find it here where I put it online]

 

but Trafigura doesn’t tell us about the smell!

 

Not the whole truth !

 

__________________________________

 

This section below is copied from the Introduction to the NFI Report

The following information has been obtained from the reporting officer: 1
In response to serious complaints of a bad smell on the morning of 3rd July 2006, in the vicinity of the petroleum dock in Amsterdam’s western port area, among other places, the fire brigade carried out an investigation into the source and presumed cause of the smell.


At around 11:00 that day, the fire brigade established that the irritating smell was being caused by Amsterdam Port Services (APS). Gases with a mercaptan smell were emanating from the DAF (Dissolved Air Flotation) installation (a component of water purification) and possibly from acceptance tank 9 at the APS site. According to APS’s internal analysis forms and day logs it appears
that that morning 316 m3 of waste water from acceptance tank 9 (hereinafter also ‘Tank 9’) were being processed in the DAF. It was established by APS employees that there were more than 500 ppm hydrogen sulphide (H2S) present in the DAF.


It was established that, from 2:30 onwards on 3rd July, approx. 500 m3 waste water was unloaded from collection vessel Main VII into APS’s Tank 9. The load was sampled at approx. 2:00, and while samples were being taken from the starboard and port tanks 1 and 3 of Main VII APS employees complained about the stench coming from the sample flasks. The content of the starboard and port tanks 1 and 3 of Main VII appears to have come from the marine vessel Probo Koala.