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Trafigura settles toxic waste lawsuit

Trafigura, a leading commodities trader, has agreed to a settlement with Ivory Coast to end a class-action lawsuit over dumping toxic waste.

This content was published on September 24, 2009 - 10:16

The metals and oil trading firm with offices in Geneva and Lucerne admitted no wrongdoing surrounding events in August and September 2006, when a Trafigura-chartered ship offloaded 500 tons of petrochemical waste to a local company.

That company then poured the caustic mix into open-air dumps in Abidjan, the West African country's largest city.

A United Nations report issued earlier this month said thousands of local residents went to health centres shortly afterward for help against headaches, vomiting and abdominal pains among other ailments. Ivory Coast said 16 people died.

Details of the settlement reached in London this week were being kept secret, but a judge said there was no evidence that the waste had caused anything more than "flu-like symptoms".

Trafigura's lawyers also said the firm had nothing to do with the company that had dumped the waste.

The Ivorian National Federation of Victims of Toxic Waste said it was disappointed with the settlement. The matter had been slated to go to trial in London on October 1.

"We will not give up," Denis Pipira Yao, president of the group told Reuters. "We will go after Trafigura."

The company, which charters 60 vessels worldwide and operates in 42 countries, agreed to a $198 million (SFr203 million) out-of-court settlement with the Ivory Coast government in 2007, exempting it from legal proceedings there.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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