Abidjan – port city and commercial capital of the Ivory Coast. The former official capital of the Ivory Coast, Abidjan is the country’s largest city and the fourth largest French-speaking city in the world (after Paris, Kinshasa and Montreal). Highly industrialised and regarded as the cultural centre of west Africa, Abidjan is located in Ébrié Lagoon on several converging peninsulas and islands, connected by bridges. The city is composed of two parts (northern and southern Abidjan) and divided into ten communes. In 2006, the city had an estimated population of 3,796,677. As well as its oil refinery, major industries include food processing and the manufacture of textiles, chemicals and soap.
Akouédo – village on the outskirts of central Abidjan. Akouédo houses an official dump-site that was utilised by Compagnie Tommy to offload a significant volume of slops from the Probo Koala.
Amsterdam Port Services BV (APS) – company licensed by the Dutch authorities to handle ships waste, and contracted by Trafigura to take slops from the Probo Koala.
AVR-Industrial Waste BV (AVR) – Dutch company instructed by APS to analyse samples of the Probo Koala slops in Amsterdam.
Basel Convention – the Basel Convention is the most comprehensive global environmental treaty on hazardous wastes. It has 172 member countries and its aims are the reduction of the trans-boundary movements of hazardous wastes, the prevention and minimization of their generation, the environmentally sound management of such wastes and the active promotion of the transfer and use of cleaner technologies. The Convention was opened for signature on 22nd March 1989, and entered into force on 5th May 1992. A waste falls under the scope of the Convention if it is listed within the category of wastes listed in Annex I of the Convention and exhibits one of the hazardous characteristics contained in Annex III (i.e. by being explosive, flammable, toxic, or corrosive). It can also fall under the scope of the Convention is if it is defined as or considered to be a hazardous waste under the laws of either the exporting country, the importing country, or and of the countries of transit.
Burgeap Côte d’Ivoire – environmental specialist and subsidiary of the European Engineering Group BURGEAP IGIP Holding SE, Burgeap Côte d’Ivoire carries out research and engineering projects including audits, consulting, measurement, training, project management, technical support and turnkey projects in various fields of the environment. Often working on behalf of the Ivorian Ministry of Environment, it was appointed to undertake an audit of the dump sites in Abidjan after an agreement between Trafigura and the Ivorian Government.
Catalyst – a substance that speeds up a chemical reaction, in this case the Merox process.
Caustic soda – also called sodium hydroxide, the chemical used in the caustic washing process. Caustic soda is one of the most widely used chemicals both in industry and in the home. Caustic soda is mixed with other chemicals and, together with water, can dissolve grease, oil and fat. It is widely used in industry for a diverse number of applications including paper manufacturing, oil drilling, food preparation and aluminium production.
Caustic Washing / Merox Process – a well-known, legal and effective way of reducing impurities from gasoline blendstocks. The caustic wash is achieved by adding caustic soda solution (sodium hydroxide) to the ship’s tanks and circulating the contents to ‘wash’ the coker naphtha and chemically extract the mercaptans from the hydrocarbons.
The Merox Process - Merox is an acronym for mercaptan oxidation. After the caustic washing, a catalyst is added to facilitate the oxidation of mercaptides to chemical compounds called disulphides. These organic compounds, which are far less odorous than the mercaptans, dissolve back into the naphtha. The caustic solution containing the catalyst, traces of the mercaptides and other water soluble salts is then drained from the bottom of the tank.
Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) – the standard method for indirect measurement of the amount of pollution in a sample of water. The COD test procedure is based on the chemical decomposition of organic and inorganic contaminants, dissolved or suspended in water. The result of a COD test indicates the amount of water-dissolved oxygen consumed by the contaminants during two hours of decomposition from a solution of boiling potassium dichromate. The higher the COD, the higher the amount of pollution in the test sample.
Coker naphtha – produced from the processing of heavier residues of crude oil. This processing, which is common within the oil industry, is known as thermal cracking (‘coking’) – hence the name ‘coker’ naphtha. These products are traded worldwide. Coker naphtha was part of the Probo Koala’s cargo.
Communauté Financière Africaine (CFA) franc – official currency of the Ivory Coast.
Compagnie Tommy – the firm that, having been appointed by Trafigura to treat the Probo Koala slops safely and legally, reprehensibly dumped the slops material in and around Abidjan.
District Environmental Police (DEP) – Dutch police department that took samples of the slops from the Probo Koala. It was these samples that were used by the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) in their authoritative Report. The results regarding the composition of the slops showed the slops could not have caused the injuries alleged to the people of Abidjan.
Fujairah – port in United Arab Emirates where the Probo Koala completed its delivery of liquid cargo – and its tanks were cleaned and analysed.
Gasoline blendstock – gasoline to be blended with other materials to meet a particular specification. Each country has its own specifications for different types of gasolines and fuels, and it is often necessary to blend different fuels (feedstocks) to create a product that meets the local requirements. This is a process carried out in terminals and on ships around the world every day.
Hydrocarbons – organic compounds, naturally found in crude oil, containing only hydrogen and carbon.
Hydrogen sulphide – highly toxic gas that was shown to have been categorically not present in the Probo Koala slops.
International Maritime Organisation (IMO) – established in Geneva in 1948 (though now headquartered in London), the IMO’s primary purpose is to develop and maintain a comprehensive regulatory framework for shipping. Its remit covers a broad range of areas including safety, environmental concerns, legal matters, technical co-operation, maritime security and the efficiency of shipping. It is a specialised agency of the United Nations with 169 Member States and three Associate Members. In 1973, IMO adopted the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), which has been amended by the Protocols of 1978 and 1997 and kept updated with relevant amendments.
Leigh Day & Co – the lawyers retained on behalf of residents of the Ivory Coast who claimed to have suffered serious injuries as a result of exposure to the Probo Koala slops. Leigh Day & Co initiated group action proceedings in the English High Court against Trafigura. In September 2009 a settlement was reached, as a result of independent expert evidence and Leigh Day & Co acknowledged in an Agreed Joint Statement that the slops could at worst have caused low-level flu like symptoms and anxiety.
Main VII – a tank barge assigned to take the slops from the Probo Koala in Amsterdam harbour.
MARPOL – also known as MARPOL 73/78, it is the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution From Ships. MARPOL 73/78 is one of the most important international marine environmental conventions. It was designed to minimise pollution of the seas, including dumping, oil and exhaust pollution. Its stated object is: to preserve the marine environment through the complete elimination of pollution by oil and other harmful substances and the minimization of accidental discharge of such substances.
It entered into force on 2nd October 1983. As of 31st December 2005, 136 countries, representing 98% of the world's shipping tonnage, are parties to the Convention. In 2011 this figure had reached 150 countries and more than 99% of the world’s shipping tonnage.
All ships flagged under countries that are signatories to MARPOL are subject to its requirements, regardless of where they sail, and member nations are responsible for vessels registered under their respective nationalities.
Mercaptans – in organic chemistry, a mercaptan is an organosulphur compound. Many mercaptans have strong odours. They are used as flavouring in food and also as odourants to assist in the detection of natural gas (which in pure form is odourless), and the ‘smell of natural gas’ is in fact due to the smell of the mercaptan used as the odourant. Mercaptans are commonly present in crude oil and refined oil products.
Mercaptides – water soluble salts of mercaptans created in an alkaline environment during the caustic washing/Merox process.
Minton, Treharne & Davies (Minton) – the world-renowned scientific consultancy that was commissioned by Trafigura to prepare a generic, desktop study of the potential chemicals in the slops, without any access to data or analyses of the actual samples. The unfinished document, which was stolen and sent to The Guardian newspaper, became known as the Minton Report.
Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) – actually called the Nederlands Forensisch Instituut, it is an agency of the Netherlands Ministry of Security and Justice. The NFI produced the authoritative report on the composition of the slops, having analysed the samples taken from the Probo Koala in Amsterdam. The results showed that the slops did not contain the harmful impurities alleged.
Operation Clean City – three-month initiative, sponsored by the World Bank, which helped to dispose of 500,000 tonnes of waste from Abidjan in 2009.
Ore Bulk Oil (OBO) carrier – also known as a combination carrier, a type of vessel designed to carry liquid or dry cargoes. The Probo Koala was an OBO carrier, which also meant it had the required tank coating to allow it to perform caustic washing operations.
Paldiski – Estonian port that was on the Probo Koala’s scheduled commercial route.
Petroci Jetty – jetty at SIR Refinery, used by the Probo Koala on arrival in Abidjan.
Puma Energy CI – Puma Energy Côte D’Ivoire, a wholly owned subsidiary oil company of Trafigura.
Societe Ivoirienne de Raffinage (SIR) – Oil Refinery in Vridi, Abidjan.
Slops – A form of ships’ wastes generated during cargo operations; including tank drainings, cargo residues, tank washings and other oily mixtures.
Special Rapporteur – a title given to individuals working on behalf of the United Nations within the scope of ‘Special Procedures’ mechanisms who bear a specific mandate from the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Tank barge – barge equipped with tanks to carry liquid cargoes.
TREDI – a business unit of the French group Séché Environnement, and a key player in the European integrated hazardous waste management market.
TREDI was appointed by the Ivorian Government to remediate the waste in Abidjan on 17th September 2006. Samples were drawn from recovered soils and liquids and analyses (carried out between October 2006 and January 2007) were submitted for authorisation for the waste to be removed, containerised and shipped to France for incineration.
United Nations Disaster Assessment at Coordination (UNDAC) – part of the UN’s international emergency response system for sudden-onset emergencies. It sent a team to Abidjan, following the dumping of the slops, and produced an early report on the situation.
United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) – inter-governmental body within the UN made up of 47 States responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe. Its Special Rapporteur, Professor Okechukwu Ibeanu, produced a controversial and poorly researched document on the dumping of the Probo Koala’s slops and their alleged effects on the local population.
WAIBS – shipping agent in Abidjan that recommended Compagnie Tommy to treat the slops.
World Health Organisation (WHO) – directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. It was one of the first organisations to arrive in Abidjan when reports emerged of the dumping of the slops.
WSP Environment & Energy (WSP) – a wholly owned subsidiary of WSP Group plc, an engineering consultancy listed on the London Stock Exchange since 1987. WSP Group has more than 10,000 staff working from offices in 35 countries located in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Americas. Its Soil & Groundwater Contamination practice has over 300 staff in the UK and extensive experience of examining contaminated sites. Trafigura commissioned WSP to conduct an independent assessment of the suspected dumping locations in and around Abidjan.