A UN expert has called the dumping of chemical residue in Ivory Coast a clear violation of international hazardous waste agreements, while Ivorians questioned who to blame.
Seven people have died from exposure to the waste, the Health Ministry said, and thousands have sought treatment at hospitals since residents began to complain of a smell of rotten eggs a few weeks ago.
The waste was shipped to the port city of Abidjan by a vessel chartered by commodities trader Trafigura Beheer BV and dumped - apparently illegally - across the city. The Dutch company said it was dumped by a local contractor. On Monday, Ivorian authorities arrested and charged two Trafigura executives with poisoning and breaking toxic waste laws.
"It's pure petrochemical waste," said Rudolph Walder, a Swiss hazardous waste expert with the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination mission. He said Tuesday the material included solids, oily substances and water - products that could come from a refinery, from the petrochemical industry or from the cleaning of ships.