Ivory Coast scandal highlights illegal dumping of toxic waste

The recent dumping of toxic oil byproducts and subsequent deaths of eight citizens in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, has highlighted the shady world of illegal toxic-waste disposal. The practice of unloading nasties on developing countries was addressed by the U.N.’s Basel Convention in 1989 (you remember that one), but “[w]ith globalization, this has resurfaced, it is even on the increase,” says Pierre Portas, deputy executive secretary of the Basel Convention Secretariat. Globalization indeed: the tanker that offloaded on the Ivory Coast — which was impounded at an Estonian port yesterday — was Korean-built, Greek-managed, Panamanian-flagged, and Dutch-chartered. And the Ivory Coast is far from alone. U.S. activists say 500 containers of computers were shipped to Lagos, Nigeria, every month last year, up to three-quarters of which were dumped and burned; a European watchdog said last year that nearly half of E.U. waste exports were illegal. But hey, at least that old monitor isn’t taking up space in your garage anymore.