Ivory Coast government resigns after dumped toxic-waste sickens hundreds

Fumes from toxic waste that was recently dumped around Abidjan, Ivory Coast, have killed three people and sickened more than 1,500. Under criticism that the government failed to act decisively, Ivorian Interim Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny took the unprecedented step of dissolving his cabinet, and will form a new government today. (Perhaps other ineffectual governments should take note?) Toxic gasoline residue was unloaded from a ship on Aug. 19 and dumped at seven or eight sites near residential areas of Abidjan. The company that chartered the ship said the residue was “a mixture of gasoline, water, and caustic washings”; the French consulate in Abidjan said the waste contained hydrogen sulfide and organochloride. Residents are suffering from nausea, respiratory problems, diarrhea, and nosebleeds. Street protests to draw attention to the problem have, ironically, blockaded doctors from areas where medical help is needed. Several people have been arrested in connection with the dumping.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.