nuclear waste in Africa

In Somalia, tsunami made up of toxic waste

The tsunamis that hit Asia last December made it possible to rediscover radioactive waste illegally dumped by Western countries along the coasts of the African Horn. This is revealed in a report by the United Nations Environment Program, entitled “After the Tsunami - A preliminary environmental assessment”, published in late February 2005.

Somalia: dumping ground for Western radioactive waste?

The tidal waves that gripped South Asia last December also had an impact in Somalia. Aftershocks were felt even in the East African sub-region (which also paid a heavy price for the disaster) and brought to the surface the radioactive waste, dumped off the coast of Somalia, during the 80s and 90s, by Western countries. A preliminary investigation carried out by experts from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) evokes the case of Somalia and Kenya. It should be the subject, in the coming weeks, of a more detailed investigation on the spot. But for the time being, and for reasons one can easily imagine, the various authorities contacted seem to agree to maintain the utmost discretion on these discoveries.
The UNEP expert report, released in late February, reports on the extent of tsunami-related environmental and health damage in all affected areas. He mentions, among other things, the scandalous discoveries in Somalia. Taking advantage of the instability of the political climate in Somalia, a permanent civil war since the end of 1990, many Western countries have made proposals to the Somali State: weapons against storage of toxic waste. The UNEP report estimates that the management and disposal of hazardous materials would amount to 2,50 dollars per ton in Somalia, against 250 dollars in Europe. Since the authorities did not have the means or the skills to monitor and control this type of management, the door was open to all abuses.

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Unusual health problems

Some of the containers, which have been deposited in the seabed for years, have resurfaced with tsunamis. Their state of advanced wear worries the authorities, especially as these floating objects not clearly identified remain a few hundred meters from the shore. Local people felt the first effects of this unwanted presence. "A significant number of people in the Somali areas are complaining of unusual health problems, including severe lung difficulties and skin infections," the report says.
The danger concerns people but also the environment. Observers of the marine world had already noted in 2004, behavioral disorders of fauna linked to the discharge of chemicals into the sea: "many cases of blindness" in certain marine animals, that it is "sometimes possible to fish with it. hands: fish do not move, they do not run away. As for the turtles, they go out to lay their eggs on the sand, but then, instead of returning to the water, they always advance further on dry land ”underlines the alternative portal on the water, Planète Bleue. In the absence of a true Somali state, the inhabitants do not have many people to turn to for accountability ... or care.

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Sandrine Desroses (

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