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Germany, India in talks over treating Bhopal waste
by Staff Writers
Berlin (AFP) May 24, 2012

A German development aid organisation said Thursday it was in talks with the Indian government to dispose of 350 tonnes of toxic waste from the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster.

"We are in discussions with the Indian government," a spokesman for the government-run Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) said, adding that Indian officials had approached Germany with the request.

No contract had been concluded yet, he said.

Details of the possible deal were unclear, but the GIZ would likely transport the toxic waste to Germany for treatment.

The accident at a pesticide plant in Bhopal was blamed on its operators Union Carbide, a US chemical group run by Dow Chemical.

The plant leaked toxic gas into neighbouring slums, killing thousands instantly and tens of thousands more over the following years.

Bhopal is in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

Top French court to rule on Erika disaster September 25
Paris (AFP) May 24, 2012 - France's top appeals court is to rule September 25 on the legality of oil giant Total's conviction for negligence in a 1999 shipwreck that caused a huge oil slick which polluted the Brittany coast.

The head of the Court of Cassation's Criminal Division, Bertrand Louvel, made the announcement on Thursday after public prosecutor Didier Boccon-Gibod said the conviction should be thrown out without further appeal.

"I realise that this opinion grates with some people, that people are outraged," said Boccon-Gibod, noting however that throwing the case out was "the only legally possible way out."

"This should in no way make people think that the Erika shipwreck is an acceptable event," he said, lamenting that French law at the time was faulty and therefore inapplicable.

A Paris appeals court in 2010 ordered Total to pay a fine of 375,000 euros (470,000 dollars) and award compensation to the civil plaintiffs of 200 million euros.

Total, France's biggest company by market capitalisation, was found guilty of failing to address maintenance problems when it chartered the rusty 25-year-old tanker Erika.

The Erika was carrying 30,000 tonnes of heavy fuel oil when it broke in two and sank off the Brittany coast on December 12, 1999, polluting a large stretch of coastline and killing tens of thousands of seabirds.

Boccon-Gibod said that the French law dating from 1983 under which the prosecutions were made could not be applied as it was in contradiction with international conventions signed by France.

Total, the ship's owner Giuseppe Savarese and manager Antonio Pollara as well as the Italian certification firm RINA were all initially found guilty before taking their case to the Court of Cassation.


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I. Coast toxic spill victims want compensation fund inquiry
Abidjan (AFP) May 23, 2012
Victims of toxic waste dumping in Ivory Coast said Wednesday that officials should follow up the firing of a minister accused of stealing money from their compensation funds with a full inquiry. President Alassane Ouattara fired minister for African integration Adama Bictogo Tuesday amid allegations he siphoned off payments from the 152 million euros ($197 million) paid by Dutch multinationa ... read more

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