The Trafigura Case

Trafigura is the second largest independent trading company in the world, and the third largest oiler trader. With sixty offices in forty-two countries, Trafigura trades roughly 1.5 million barrels of crude and oil products every day.

In 2006, the Trafigura oil company purchased a consignment American coker naphtha, processed it at sea in the m.v. Probo Koala, and sold the refined oil at a profit. They tried to offload the waste from this process in Amsterdam, but refused to pay Dutch processing charges, and reloaded the waste.

Most was taken to Cote d'Ivoire, where it was passed to a newly formed organisation, Compagnie Tommee, who put it to landfill around the town of Abidjan.

Some was offloaded in Norway from the Probo Emu, where it exploded in 2007, causing illness in a Norwegian village. Trafigura is under investigation by police for this in Norway.

Thousands of Ivorians presented to medical centres with nausea, headaches, skin rashes, menstrual disturbances, miscarriage and foetal malformations. Up to 15 deaths were attributed to the pollution.

Trafigura have paid indemnity of $198 million to the government of Cote d'Ivoire for cleanup operations, and £30,000,000 to Ivorians affected. Both payments were made out of court, and Trafigura deny causing any problems beyond temporary flu-like illness.

Causation is difficult in to establish environmental medicine, but not impossible.

Trafigura have aggressively tried to suppress knowledge and discussion of the events, culminating in an attempt to use English Libel laws to prevent a newspaper from discussing events in Parliament. This attempt was blown apart by social media activity.

Trafigura presents a cameo of the activities that TNCs regard as normal and right, and was the trigger for this present exercise in drafting laws to rein in the power of great corporations.


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