Van Velzen: Stop dumping west’s waste on poor countries

21 September 2006

Van Velzen: Stop dumping west’s waste on poor countries

Krista van Velzen intervened in yesterday’s emergency debate on the toxic waste disaster in Ivory Coast to demand stricter rules governing the disposal of waste from ships. The ship whose poisonous waste caused the disaster in the West African country should never have been allowed out of Amsterdam harbour. Compulsory processing of such waste in Dutch ports would prevent illegal dumping in developing countries.

Krista van VelzenChristian Democrat Environment Secretary Pieter Van Geel took refuge behind the ongoing enquiry by the Ministry of Public Works, but Ms Van Velzen insisted that it was “important that we exert every effort in order to be able to bring the wrongdoers to justice. It’s really completely unbelievable that Van Geel doesn’t know more of the facts. We shouldn’t be sitting around waiting, but reviewing the relevant legislation right now. Disasters such as occurred in Ivory Coast must never happen again. Dutch ports have enormous, state-of-the-art technical resources and could reprocess waste themselves in a responsible fashion. It is we, logically, who should be taking this responsibility.”

As things stand a ship’s captain can decide for himself whether to set sail with toxic ship’s waste on board provided he has space for further waste. It is a common practice to save waste until the ship reaches a port where it can be processed cheaply. “The disaster in Ivory Coast demonstrates that this state of affairs must be changed, and for two reasons. Firstly, saving up waste results in extremely poisonous mixtures which can be very damaging to human health and the environment. And secondly, rich westerners are saddling developing countries with our problems. In the Netherlands we should be taking care of our own rubbish.”

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