Sunday, September 20, 2009

Trafigura and corporate killing


So Trafigura are guilty as hell of dumping potentially lethal waste in a developing country (see this Guardian article and the attached communications file). Wikileaks also has a copy of a report from an environmental consultancy laying out in detail exactly what was hazardous in the slops landed from the MT Probo Koala and how it might effect anyone exposed to them. The predicted effects exactly match the symptoms reported in the press. This is merely a formalised laying-out of what the Trafigura execs already knew- that their waste was highly toxic- as is clear from their leaked communications.

Unfortunately, whilst the Trafigura executives responsible for this outrage can be prosecuted for infringing a number of minor treaties dealing with the transport of hazardous waste, there exists no appropriate corporate killing legislation under which they can be held accountable for the dozen or so deaths associated with this incident. This is clearly wrong and needs to be addressed. Corporate executives whose actions cost lives are as culpable as drunk drivers or incompetent surgeons. Whilst Trafigura offer a few million pounds to the victims of this incident they stood to make £7 million from each shipment of coker gasoline they cleaned up. The £30 million pound compensation plot is probably going to come from the company's coffers and not from the pockets of the men responsible. Any capacity to prosecute people like this should be extraterritorial so that EU citizens can't get away with dumping waste in the developing world in order to make a fast buck.

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