Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Somalia: tsunami disloged toxic chemicals dumped by foreign companies

Somali MPs have asked for international help in clearing toxic waste dislodged by the Asian tsunami. They claim the hazardous material, including uranium, mercury and lead, was left by unnamed European companies who took advantage of the political anarchy in Somalia to turn the country's coastline into an illegal rubbish dump, Reuters reports.

MP Awad Ahmed Ashra told a press conference in Nairobi, Kenya, on Saturday: "The earthquake hit the coastline of Somalia and threw out containers containing toxic waste. There are several reports of a wide range of medical problems like abdominal hemorrhage, and unusual skin disorders."(

Ashra's contamination claim is backed up by a recent United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report which confirms the presence of toxic material in Somalia. (source)
The UNEP report in question is After the Tsunami - Rapid Environment Assessment) ... and you can access that here. An excerpt ...
[...] Somalia is one of the many Least Developed Countries that reportedly received countless shipments of illegal nuclear and toxic waste dumped along the coastline. Starting from the early 1980s and continuing into the civil war, the hazardous waste dumped along Somalia’s coast comprised uranium radioactive waste, lead, cadmium, mercury, industrial, hospital, chemical, leather treatment and other toxic waste. Most of the waste was simply dumped on the beaches in containers and disposable leaking barrels which ranged from small to big tanks without regard to the health of the local population and any environmentally devastating impacts.

[...] Industrialised countries generate about 90 per cent of the world’s hazardous wastes. [...] Reportedly, some European firms are known to be engaged in the business of dumping hazardous waste in Africa. The primary cause of this is cost. It has been estimated that it costs as little as $2.50 per tonne to dump hazardous waste in Africa as opposed to $250 per tonne in Europe.