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Update: Report Unveiled, Exposes Trafigura’s Lethal Toxic Dumping

October 18, 2009
Protesting the gag order outside the offices of Carter-Ruck, Trafigura's lawyers. Photograph: Shaun Curry/AFP/Getty Images

Protesting the gag order outside the offices of Carter-Ruck, Trafigura's lawyers. Photograph: Shaun Curry/AFP/Getty Images

A 2006 report previously quashed by lawyers for Trafigura (previously profiled for their legacy of toxic operations) has become public,  revealing that an early investigation found that the waste the company dumped in the Ivory Coast was likely to be toxic and “capable of causing severe human health effects.” The report also noted that “a high incidence of health problems” already being felt in the area, including nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and difficulty breathing, were consistent with exposure to lethal hydrogen sulphide gas.

Written by Trafigura’s own scientific consultants, the so-called Minton report (after main author John Minton) also found that people living or working near the dump site could suffer “loss of consciousness and death,” and that dumping the waste would have been illegal in Europe. The report was obtained by the UK Guardian newspaper, but Trafigura lawyers sued and a “super injunction” was imposed, barring the paper from revealing anything in the report or even that it existed. Trafigura also attempted to quash the British Parliament from raising questions about the incident, but after a five week legal fight, the company’s lawyers yesterday lifted the injunction.

In a statement, a Trafigura executive acknowledged the company’s fight to keep the report out of public scrutiny was “heavy handed,” but denied their legal challenge was intended as an “attack (on) free speech.”

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