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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 June 2007, 17:46 GMT 18:46 UK
Poisoned Ivorians reject payout
Water seller holds her nose near waste dump in Abidjan
Victims suffered headaches, vomiting and breathing difficulties
Victims of last year's toxic waste scandal in Ivory Coast have rejected the government's offer of compensation.

The families of 16 people who died when the waste was dumped in Abidjan were offered $200,000 (100,000) each, with smaller sums to thousands who fell ill.

Victims' groups dismissed the offer as cynical. The amount is less than half the total allocated to the government.

The Dutch company which chartered the vessel said it would pay $198m (102m) for a clean-up and investigation.

The oil-trading group Trafigura agreed to pay the money in February but said it was not liable for dumping the waste.

'Huge tension'

Several victims' associations complained they had not been consulted about the pay scheme, announced by President Laurent Gbagbo on Friday.

The BBC's James Copnall in Abidjan says the victims are incensed that those who were made sick by the toxic waste will receive only $408.

Man walks by rubbish dump in Abidjan, Ivory Coast
Instead of being incinerated the waste was dumped

Aime, one of the thousands of victims, said the payout was not enough to cover the health costs over a prolonged period.

"Many efforts have been made by the victims to stay alive, so the government must recognise the efforts," she told the BBC.

Under the scheme the families of the dead were allocated $200,000 each, the 75 people who were hospitalised about $4,000 and $408 for those who fell ill.

However, about two-thirds of the compensation payments will be made to the state and local government to improve health and sanitary facilities and reimburse a clean-up operation.

One angry victim said he could not believe money he felt he should have received would go to what he called "development projects".

Our correspondent says the toxic waste scandal has been a source of huge tension in Ivory Coast and that looks set to continue for some time.

Local company

Trafigura first attempted to discharge the chemical slops from one of its tankers, the Probo Koala, in the Dutch port of Amsterdam in early August 2006.

But the company that was to dispose of the waste suddenly increased its charges dramatically - asking for more to treat the waste. Trafigura refused, and the tanker proceeded to Nigeria.

There it failed to reach an agreement with two local firms about offloading the waste and only in Ivory Coast did it find a company to handle the waste.

On 19 August the waste was discharged near Abidjan. Two weeks later the first complaints arose. Instead of being incinerated as it should have been, the waste had been dumped.

Trafigura said it had been given to a local accredited company in Abidjan's main port to deal with properly.


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