From: Associated Press
Published September 26, 2006 12:00 AM

Dutch Company Says Chemical Waste in Ivory Coast Contained No Toxic Substances

LONDON — The co-founder of the Dutch company that unloaded chemical waste blamed for the deaths of seven people in Ivory Coast said Monday that tests by the firm on the substance showed it contained no lethal elements.

Eric de Turckheim, co-founder of Trafigura Beheer BV, said despite speculation that highly toxic hydrogen sulfide was present in the gasoline waste deposited at the port of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, on Aug. 19, tests carried out by the firm showed no traces.

Authorities in the Netherlands and France are carrying out there own examinations. The results are not yet known.

De Turckheim said he had no idea what caused the deaths, and led to 44,000 seeking hospital treatment.

"All I can say is that there was no hydrogen sulfide in the product," he said.

A U.N. analysis of the waste material found dumped in residential neighborhoods of Abidjan found it contained toxic levels of hydrogen sulfide, though there has yet to be any proof it was found in the Trafigura waste.

Ivory Coast's entire 32-member Cabinet resigned on Sept. 6 in growing anger over a wave of toxic fumes.

Trafigura's director Claude Dauphin and its West Africa manager Jean-Pierre Valentini were arrested in Ivory Coast Sept. 18 on suspicion of poisoning and breaking toxic waste laws. They were jailed after traveling to the country to assist authorities with the cleanup effort and make provisions for medical care.

"Considering the fact they were not directly involved in any of the operations, we hope at least minimum bail can be obtained," de Turckheim said.

Source: Associated Press

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