The Next Link in the Dumping Chain

Selected Dump Sites in the Developing World

With the increase of restrictions on toxic waste dumping in the United States as well as public opposition to this practice, waste management companies are seeking alternative dumpsites overseas. The targets: the politically and economically less powerful nations of the world.

The governments of these countries are often lured by the large sums of money offered by waste trading firms and the prospect of creating additional employment opportunities within their borders. This practice represents an extension of the pattern of dumping on communities of color in the United States. Increasingly, however, governments and people of developing countries are becoming resistant to being "dumped on."

1. NIGERIA: Between August 1987 and May 1988 almost 4,000 tons of toxic wastes were dumped in Koko, Nigeria. As a result, the people of this small port town have seen a corresponding increase in the number of cholera patients and premature births. Although they have now been removed, the leaking barrels of wastes had been stored in the area for over 10 months.

2. GUINEA (Conakry): In February 1988, a shipment of garbage and incinerator ash from Philadelphia, which had been previously rejected by Panama and Haiti, was dumped on Kassa Island, a short distance off-shore from the capital, Conakry. Reportedly, it "caused trees on the island to turn brown and die."

3. SOUTH AFRICA: The segregated townships and rural homelands in which Black Africans are forced to live under the system of apartheid are targets for both international and South African government dumping. American Cyanamid exports 100 tons of mercury wastes each year to Thor Chemicals in Cato Ridge, South Africa. The mercury has contaminated the nearby marshes and Mngeweni River, which flows down into the Valley of a Thousand Hills where the local population uses the water for drinking, cooking, and washing.

4. HAITI: In October 1987, the Haitian government issued an import permit for fertilizer to the Khian Sea. The ship's cargo, however, consisted of 13,476 tons of toxic municipal incinerator ash from Philadelphia.

Selected Countries that have Resisted Dumping

5. THE CONGO: In April 1988, the Congo nearly became the first African country to officially authorize the importation of hazardous wastes from the United States. The U.S. Embassy announced that the government of the Congo had agreed to take one million tons of industrial wastes. A few months later, however, the agreement was canceled when a scheme to set up a sham importing company was uncovered.

6. GUINEA BISSAU: It canceled two contracts to receive half a million tons of industrial and pharmaceutical waste from Switzerland. A member of the European Parliament has alleged that as much as ten percent of the EC's toxic waste was being dumped in Guinea-Bissau.

7. SIERRA LEONE: In 1980, Colorado-based Nedlog Technology offered "up to $25 million a year" to Sierra Leone to accept millions of tons of hazardous waste from the U.S. However, student protests and other displays of public opposition forced the rejection of the proposed scheme.

8. THE BAHAMAS: In September 1989, the Bahamian government buckled under strong public pressure by rescinding its earlier agreement to burn 88,000 tons of U.S. waste on Grand Bahamas Island.

9. JAMAICA: In April 1987, Jamaica refused a shipment of 20,000 bags of milk powder with an unacceptably high level of radioactivity. The European Economic Community which had supplied the milk, insisted that the product was safe. As a result of Jamaica's refusal, the EEC cut off all food aid to the island. The EEC later removed the majority of the contaminated milk.

10. TONGA: In June 1988, the cabinet of Tonga recommended against a controversial plan presented by Omega Recovery Services of California to construct a waste disposal facility in Tonga.

11. WESTERN SAMOA: In 1986, Samoa rejected a plan by LPT Development of California to build an incinerator on the island which would burn hazardous wastes from the U.S.

Edited by Donovan Marks and Nicole Brown, Excerpted from "International Trade in Wastes: A Greenpeace Inventory" and "Greenpeace Trade Update."

Teaching Philosophy Courses Interview Biographical Sketch Research
Consultations Community Service Publications Poems

Picture Source