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Date: 2001

THE WORLD IS DUMPING TOXIC WASTE IN THE AFRICAN UNION

A report on toxic wastes trade and dumping episodes has revealed plans by the US and some European countries to dump 29 million tonnes of toxic wastes in 11 constituent republics of the African Union.

The report released by Nigeria's national co-ordinator of the Secretariat of the Basel Convention on Trans-boundary Movement of Hazardous Waste, Oladele Osibajo, said in addition to the US, the UK, Italy, France and Switzerland planned to dump the dangerous materials in Nigeria, South Africa, Angola, Benin, Congo and Equatorial Guinea.

Other African countries listed as possible destinations for the wastes were Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, Zimbabwe and Sierra Leone.

The report said the materials to be dumped comprised industrial and chemical wastes, pesticide sludge, radioactive wastes and other categories of unspecified hazardous wastes.

It, however, noted that some of the African countries listed were collaborating with the US and the European countries with the aim of receiving financial compensation for the wastes to be dumped in their areas.

For example, the report said about five million tonnes of industrial wastes were to have been dumped in Angola by an unnamed European country for two million US dollars.

The Angolan government later cancelled the deal after discovering loopholes in it, the report claimed.

It listed other countries involved in the wastes-for-money deal as Benin, Equatorial Guinea and Congo, which it said was the first country in Africa to officially authorise the dumping of toxic wastes in the country from Europe and the US for a fee.

The plan to dump wastes in all the countries failed after their populations moved against it.

After an embarrassing episode of toxic wastes dump by an Italian company in Nigeria's mid-western Koko Port town in the late 1980s, Nigeria led an international campaign against the practice leading to the establishment of a sub-regional Dump Watch in West Africa.