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Ivorian dumping report published

17 October 09 19:40 GMT

A scientific report into the dumping of toxic waste in Ivory Coast by oil trading company Trafigura has been released to the public.

The report concerns illnesses suffered by thousands of Abidjan locals.

It suggests their likely cause was the release of potentially lethal gas after chemicals were dumped.

The company insists the report was only a draft. It says it was a list of possible outcomes rather than a study based on the specifics of the case.

Trafigura is a privately owned Dutch firm with offices in London, Amsterdam and Geneva.

It attempted to stop the British newspaper the Guardian publishing the scientific report with a five-week legal battle.

On Friday, it abandoned its injunction after some of the report's contents were leaked on blogs and social networking sites.

Severe burns

The now-published report reveals that one month after waste from the ship Probo Koala was dumped at 15 sites around the Ivorian city of Abidjan, the company responsible was told about a series of dangerous potential side effects of the waste.

Among the side effects listed death as well as severe burns to the skin and lungs, vomiting and diarrhoea.

The report also makes clear that such dumping would be illegal in the European Union.

Scientific consultant John Minton was commissioned by Trafigura to produce the confidential study into the events of August 2006 in Abidjan, after thousands of people with burns, diarrhoea and breathing difficulties presented at local hospitals.

The subsequent report was kept secret, and was not made available to the 31,000 Abidjan residents who last month reached a settlement with Trafigura.

Trafigura, however, insists that the Minton report was only a draft, and was an analysis of possible outcomes of waste dumping, rather than a study of exactly what happened in Abidjan.

The report's author has subsequently said that it did not reference specific underlying evidence.

Trafigura denies that anyone died as a result of the dumping and claims that people only suffered flu-like symptoms.

Lawyers for the company say it never sought to attack free speech.

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