Riots in Ivory Coast, after toxins cause deaths

The world is beginning to see that people will not tolerate dangerous abuse of the environment. Not only is good environmental policy good for health, good for economic reasons, it is necessary for social stability.

Poison Fumes Killing ChildrenThe most recent case in point being demonstrations, blocked roads, burned tires and anger in the streets of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, near a site where toxic waste was dumped. 7 people died after inhaling fumes from the waste.

Hundreds of people participated in violent demonstrations, beating a Cabinet minister and burning down the home of the port director who was implicated in the environmental problem. Several children died after breathing fumes from the waste, which was dumped at 14 separate open air sites. The petroleum waste contains hydrogen sulfide and hydrocarbons, causing nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of consciousness, and sometimes death.

The waste was being shipped by a Dutch commodity trader on a Panamanian ship. It had tried to unload the waste in Amsterdam, but aborted that effort. Then it went to Abidjan, and dumped the contaminants. Thousands of residents rushed to hospitals, as new deaths occurred. Transportation Minister Anaky Kobenan was pulled out of his car, and forced to inhale the fumes by angry residents of the area.

This event is only one of a pattern of public response to environmental abuse that ENVIRONMENTAL SOLUTIONS is monitoring around the world. Similar violence in Ecuador is occurring because of pollution and abuses by corporations ranging from scrap metal companies, (causing lead and heavy metals in the water), to oil companies (spilling oil and toxins near villages).

The message from the people is simple and clear. “If governments and corporations will not take responsibility for a clean environment, we will force it by social instability.” This is a message that is critical and important to the world.