Ivory Coast toxic dump victims receive £21m in compensation


More than 20,000 victims of toxic waste dumped by a ship in Ivory Coast in 2006 have received compensation over the past three weeks, the head of a body representing them has confirmed.

The case stems from the dumping of toxic waste from the Probo Koala — chartered by the Swiss-based Trafigura company — on rubbish tips around the city of Abidjan in 2006. Seventeen people died and thousands were treated in hospital for poisoning. Trafigura denied responsibility.

“We have delivered more than 20,000 cheques in three weeks, two thirds of the people to be compensated,” said Claude Gohourou, who heads the group managing payments jointly with the British law firm Leigh Day.

More than £21 million has been paid and the remaining 8,000 people entitled to be compensated will be paid when the operation restarts on March 31.

Trafigura reached an out-of-court settlement with the Ivory Coast Government, agreeing in February 2007 to pay out a total of one hundred billion CFA francs in damages, which exempted it from legal proceedings in that country.

Only a quarter of the money was set aside for the victims.

A report by a UN expert found “strong” evidence linking the waste to the deaths.

“After the distribution of the funds, we are going to take further actions for the total compensation of the 100,000 victims and the cleaning of the polluted sites,” Mr Gohourou said.

Mr Gohourou has challenged the authority of the British law firm to hand out compensation payments and criticised it for keeping details of the settlement private.

The British firm pointed out that Trafigura had required the settlement to remain confidential.