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Thursday, 26 October 2006 - Strasbourg
Export of toxic waste to Africa

European Parliament resolution on the export of toxic waste to Africa

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (the Basel Convention), adopted on 22 March 1989 and approved on behalf of the Community by Council Decision 93/98/EEC,(1) and the ban pursuant thereto on all exports of hazardous waste from the OECD to non-OECD countries,

–   having regard to Community legislation on shipment of waste, in particular Council Regulation (EEC) No 259/93 of 1 February 1993 on the supervision and control of shipments of waste within, into and out of the European Community,(2) and Regulation (EC) No 1013/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 June 2006 on shipments of waste,(3) which repeals Regulation (EEC) No 259/93 as of 12 July 2007,

–   having regard to Rule 103(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas around 500 tonnes of chemical waste have been dumped in several areas in the neighbourhood of Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, where 5 million people live,

B.   whereas eight people have died so far and some 85 000 have been taken to hospital for treatment for nosebleeds, diarrhoea, nausea, eye irritation and breathing difficulties; whereas the consequences of this dumping of toxic waste may be far-reaching, including soil contamination and surface and groundwater pollution,

C.   whereas this poisoning has affected in a particularly severe way a great number of children: as estimated by UNICEF, between 9 000 and 23 000 children will need medical assistance and health care and other measures to clean up the environment where they live will be required,

D.   whereas the toxic waste was dumped by a Greek-owned, Panamanian-flagged tanker leased by Trafigura Beheer B.V., a Netherlands-based company; whereas such sharing of responsibilities creates a systematic and unacceptable problem with regard to the enforcement of Community legislation,

E.   whereas environmental regulations in the Northern countries have made it expensive to dispose of hazardous waste,

F.   whereas the Amsterdam port authorities found out about the hazardous nature of the waste upon unloading, and asked for a higher fee to complete the unloading, following which the tanker chose instead to pump the waste back on board; whereas the Netherlands authorities allowed the ship to leave their territory despite knowing about the hazardous nature of the waste and about the captain's unwillingness to pay for environmentally sound disposal in the Netherlands,

G.   whereas the company had the opportunity to dispose of the waste in a legal and safe manner in Europe, but chose a cheaper alternative in Côte d'Ivoire,

H.   whereas Africa is a dumping ground for all kinds of hazardous waste; whereas Greenpeace has identified 80 sites where hazardous waste from developed countries has been dumped, including old computers in Nigeria, radioactive tanks in Somalia, dumping of chlorine in Cameroon, etc.,

I.   whereas most African countries do not have strong regulations to protect the environment and the livelihood of their populations against hazardous waste,

J.   whereas all exports from the EU of waste for disposal have been prohibited since May 1994, pursuant to Regulation (EEC) No 259/93; whereas the export of hazardous waste from the EU to non-OECD countries for recovery has been prohibited since January 1997, pursuant to that Regulation,

K.   whereas the dumping of hazardous waste in Côte d'Ivoire is just the tip of the iceberg of ongoing shipments of hazardous waste from the EU to non-OECD countries; whereas very large amounts of waste electrical and electronic equipment are being dumped in non-OECD countries under the pretext of "reuse"; whereas a significant number of old EU ships laden with toxic substances and materials are being scrapped in Asia under conditions that are extremely harmful to workers and the environment,

L.   whereas it adopted at first reading on 9 April 2002 a position on the proposal for a directive on the protection of the environment through criminal law(4); whereas the Council never adopted a political agreement on this proposal and favoured, instead, a third pillar framework decision on the same subject (Council Framework Decision 2003/80/JHA of 27 January 2003(5)); whereas the Court of Justice of the European Communities annulled the framework decision in its judgment of 13 September 2005 in Case C-176/03,

1.  Calls on the Commission, the Netherlands and Côte d'Ivoire to investigate this case fully, to establish responsibility at all levels, to bring to justice those responsible for this environmental crime and to ensure full remediation of the environmental contamination, as well as compensation for the victims;

2.  Calls on the EU institutions and the Member States to take all necessary measures to provide full assistance to the population affected and in particular to children, by using all available means of support, cooperation and civil protection;

3.  Considers that both Community legislation and international conventions were clearly violated in the case of the exporting of hazardous waste to Abidjan, and therefore calls on the Commission and the Member States to take all necessary measures to ensure full enforcement of the existing waste shipment legislation;

4.  Asks the Commission and the Member States concerned to make public all the bilateral agreements they have concluded with non-OECD countries for the shipping of waste;

5.  Calls on the Commission to make legislative proposals to close the loopholes in the current regime on hazardous waste so as to end shipments to non-OECD countries of waste electrical and electronic equipment and obsolete ships and vessels;

6.  Calls on the Commission to collect information on the illicit trafficking in, and dumping of, such hazardous wastes and products in African and other developing countries, to come forward with proposals for measures to control, reduce and eradicate this illicit trafficking, transfer and dumping of such products in African and other developing countries and to produce annually a list of countries and transnational corporations engaged in the illicit dumping of toxic waste and products in African and other developing countries;

7.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission, the governments of the Member States, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the government of Côte d'Ivoire and the secretariat of the Basel Convention.

(1) OJ L 39, 16.2.1993, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 30, 6.2.1993, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 190, 12.7.2006, p. 1.
(4) OJ C 127 E, 29.5.2003, p. 119.
(5) OJ L 29, 5.2.2003, p. 55.

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