Groundwork begins for Ivory Coast toxic-dumping lawsuit

It’s been almost five months since a cargo ship dumped over 400 tons of toxic “slops” in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, leaving at least 10 people dead and more than 40,000 ill. At the time, residents of the African nation responded by blockading streets, burning stuff, and collapsing their government. Now that’s direct action! As the $30 million cleanup of 18 local sites continues, British legal eagles are stepping in, suing Trafigura, the company whose London-based arm chartered the ship. Starting today, the Brits will talk to thousands of witnesses, building one of the U.K.’s largest-ever class action suits. Meanwhile, the U.N. Environment Program is appealing to rich nations for help with cleanup costs. “One of the world’s poorest countries is having to pay for the recovery, shipment, and decontamination of toxic waste [produced] in the industrialized world,” said UNEP’s Nick Nuttall. “The Ivorian government is being forced to choose between paying hospital bills and the costs of decontamination.”