Case Study on the Corporate Crime of Trafigura Dumping Toxic Waste in Ivory Coast

The case study focuses on a green crime committed by Trafigura in Ivory Coast in 2006. The company contracted a company to dispose of its highly toxic waste in the West African country. The contractors failed to follow the right safety procedures for disposing such waste. They dumped the waste across various locations in Abidjan. As a result, the waste caused a medical crisis to occur in the city, affecting many residents. Furthermore, instead of the company receiving severe punishment they went and made a deal with the local government. In exchange for a measly US $195 million the government of the country waived its right to prosecute the company (Amnesty International, 2009).  This case study will attempt to shed light on corporate crimes, specifically green crime, with focus on the case of Trafigura Company.

In late 2005, a multinational organization called Trafigura chose to purchase a lot of unrefined fuel called coker naphtha. Trafigura expected to utilize the coker naphtha as a shoddy blendstock for fuels. The company opted to use a refining method that was effective, but ended up producing a lot of waste. In June 2006, after a few unsuccessful endeavours to discard the waste the company transported the waste to Ivory Coast to be disposed of at a cheaper rate. On 19 August 2006 the Probo Koala landed in Abidjan in Ivory Coast. Ivory Coast is one of the major countries in West Africa. Trafigura decided to get a recently authorized organization to discard the waste at a neighbourhood dumpsite. There was no notice, in the manually written contract with the company, of treating the waste to make it safe. The waste was emptied into trucks and taken to the dumpsite; notwithstanding, worries about the odour drove the site to close. Truck drivers then dumped whatever was left of the waste at more or less 18 separate areas around the city of Abidjan (Amnesty International, 2009). The inhabitants of Abidjan woke up to the horrifying impacts of the waste dumping. Countless individuals encountered a scope of health issues, including cerebral pains, skin aggravations and breathing issues. A massive medical crisis occurred (BBC, 2010).

Green crime is any offense that involves the destruction of the environment. It is connected to globalization and the thought that it rises above national limits. There are two types of this crime; secondary and primary. Primary green crimes are those which directly damage Earth’s assets while secondary green crimes are those that develop from the disregard of guidelines meant for avoiding or managing environmental destruction. Green crimes include deforestation and pollution. Deforestation is the destruction of Earth’s forestry on a tremendous scale, regularly bringing about harm to the ecosystem of the region (Reid, 2015).

One of the principle errors in environmental crime is the absence of consistency in the definition and characterization of environmental crime. The essential issue is varying points of view in respect to what constitutes as environmental crime, embedded in good, philosophical and legalistic elucidations of mischief and in what circumstances does this damage turn into a crime (White, 2008). Numerous criminologists have advanced points of view which clarify the reasons why people and companies take part in exercises that cause environmental damages. These points of view can be connected to the first environmental or green criminology viewpoints. Contamination and dumping has turned into an undeniably immoderate issue for the environment. As a result, there has been an ascent in research that analyses environmental damage as crime (Crofts, Morris, Wells & Powell, 2010).

Pollution involves the outflow, spillage or leakage of a prescribed substance into the air, water or soil (Brickenll, 2010). It was the first environmentally harmful practice to catch the attention of people and also evoke administrative concern. Globally recognized pollutants include pesticides, chemicals, and gasses. Whilst some of these substances are banned and unlawful, some are allowed, but within certain levels. Pollution is consequently illegal when there is the release of a prohibited substance, the discharge or spillage of substance in excess of a set limit, or ejection into certain regions, for example, large water bodies (Bricknell, 2010). Illicit waste transfer incorporates the transportation and dumping of waste into landfills and other similar areas. Waste includes everything from risky substances to electronic waste, generally known as e-waste. In this case the pollutant was a variety of waste products that had the potential to severely damage the environment as well as the people living in it.

Environmental crime is a social development of political processes impacted through the endeavours of moral entrepreneurs and moral crusaders to grow the significance of what ought to be viewed as a crime. Such social developments impact the way the overall population see the law, as they see it as a construct of the elite. It is along these lines that in cases, for example, illicit dumping, and the essential motivating force for carrying out environmental crime is personal gain. Trafigura was able to buy it’s was out of prosecution. This shows that the law only favours powerful individuals especially in the case of environmental law. Lynch and Stretsky (2003) recognize this through an environmental justice point of view and a corporate viewpoint. From an environmental equity viewpoint, an environmental crime is a demonstration that has identifiable environmental harm brought about from human activity. On the other hand, these activities could conceivably break or fail to break existing environmental principles or regulations. Some of these activities are authorized by criminal laws, whilst others just add up to minor civil infringements. Unlawful pollution and waste disposal match with the conventional definition of environmental crime. Social development plays a crucial part in the way individuals characterize crime.

Consequently, it is important to comprehend why certain practices are focused on by the law. A sufficient example is the manner by which laws are intended to shield everybody from the effects of environmental degradation yet frequently fail to be fulfilled in lower minority ranges. Therefore, the environmental justice perspective concentrates on how covering types of class, race, social and sex imbalances impact the way environmental laws are socially developed (White and Heckenberg, 2011).

It is clear that through this viewpoint, processes of enforcement support the powerful with respect to the development and utilization of the law (Lynch & Stretsky, 2003). Also, numerous green crimes results from structures and progressions that does not include numerous minority groups. An illustration of this is unlawful dumping in developing countries which often brings about a degradation of natural resources and poor health. Dumping in landfills can contaminate the soil, and thus debase drinking water and impact the health of the general public in these countries. This viewpoint centres its consideration on acts that ought to be criminal, regardless of the fact that it is not characterized as unlawful under law. Large companies are still permitted, to a degree, to pollute and dump despite the fact that it causes real repercussions on the environment over the long haul. Developing countries such as the Ivory Coast often lack the proper laws to tackle pollution, especially those that are committed by large multinationals.

From an economic aspect, an investigation of expenses connected with waste transfer demonstrates that such illegal dumping is primarily an economic decision. The monetary expenses of disposing waste are relatively high. Thus, improper dumping removes the attached price tag. Trafigura attempted to use the services of a company in the Netherlands to dispose of the waste; however, the company requested high fees when they realized that the waste was more toxic than they anticipated. Companies that aggregate vast amounts all the time are generally subject to high transfer expenses and hence look for alternatives. Given this, the most financially discerning choice to discard waste is to do as so unlawfully, particularly if guilty parties are not going to be caught. On the off chance that they are caught they just get a little fine contrasted with the expenses of disposing waste legitimately (Crofts et al., 2010).

The environmental plan also has a real effect on unlawful dumping. Newman (1976) concluded, whilst undertaking research about ecological criminal acts in New York, those regions most defenceless to unlawful acts, for example dumping all had comparative qualities. These included unassigned and unprotected open spaces that were uncared for and subsequently giving chances to occupants and non-residents to participate in illegitimate exercises. Absence of proprietorship and control of open spaces and absence of chances for surveillance were additionally vital reasons that support illicit dumping (Crofts et al., 2010). As it was in this case, the toxic waste managed to pass through the country’s port without raising suspicion proving that that particular port is susceptible to unlawful imports.

The ecological or green criminology hypothesis is a contrast to the traditional criminological theories. This point of view alludes to the investigation of natural damage, ecological laws and natural regulations by criminologists (White, 2008). An essential reason of natural criminology is to highlight what the conduct of environmental practices, such as illegal dumping, has on the overall population and nature. One way to deal with conceptualizing ecological damage is through the traditional criminology in green criminology (White, 2008). These are legitimate conceptions of crime backed by laws, rules and interactional traditions. The central concern here against ecological damage is lawfulness and the division of exercises into classifications of illegal and legal. This methodology fits perfectly with Lynch and Stretsky’s (2003) corporate viewpoint on green crime as it just considers an environmental damage to be a wrongdoing only if the law says it is.

To conclude, global environmental damage impacts the entire world; however a few sections have more prominent outcomes than others. The change of nature through the inconvenience of free enterprise developments of what is great and gainful for the worldwide political economy has desperate results for the worldwide environment. Ecological damage is in this way seen as being characteristically global. A globalization approach infers that the impacts of natural damage are all inclusive. At the point when this is interconnected with a relative criminological examination difference between minority countries are obvious. A few nations and locales are more obligated to contamination and unlawful waste dumping than others. Like the ecological equity point of view introduced by Lynch and Stretsky (2003), there are particular districts and minority bunches who get more damage than others. Studies have distinguished inconsistencies including ecological dangers, which influence ethnic minority gatherings and indigenous individuals. Accordingly, there are examples of differential exploitation that are introduced in cases like illicit harmful waste dumps (Chunn, Boyd and Menzies, 2002).

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