Leadership (Abuja)

12 January 2013

Nigeria: Toxic Waste Ship Still Detained in Lagos

Photo: Vanguard
Some of the ship’s content being examined.

The ship, MV Marivia, arrested at the Tin-Can Island Port in Lagos on Wednesday with two containers of e-waste is still being detained, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.

An official of the Tin-Can Island Container Terminal, who preferred anonymity, told NAN on Saturday that the "ship is still there and has not sailed out".

The source said that the ship had finished discharging other goods and was closely being guarded by securitymen.

NAN reports that the two offensive containers were laden with used electronics, including television sets, computers, central processing units (CPU), digital video recorders, microwaves, pressing irons and stereo sets.

The 23,652 tonnage container ship which berthed on Wednesday arrived from Tilbury in London. The authorities of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), NESREA and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) detained the vessel.

The numbers of the two containers are: ECMU 9894510 and ECMU 9870858. On Friday, Hajia Hadiza Mailafia, the Minister of Environment, told reporters in Abuja that the owners of the vessel had been fined one million dollars to serve as a deterrent.

Mailafia said that the culprits involved in the intercepted vessel would face life imprisonment if convicted. Earlier, Dr Ngeri Benebo, the Director-General of National Environment Standards Regulatory Agency (NESREA), had told NAN that the containers would be sent back to the port of origin.

Benebo said the repatriation of the containers were in conformity with the provisions of the Harmful Wastes Act.

"We are sending the e-wastes back to the port of origin," the director-general said.

She said that the agency's action was guided by the provisions of the laws of Nigeria and warned that "Nigeria would resist any attempt by any country to make the country a dumping ground."

The director-general said the suspected importers of the cargo were traced to Umezime Street, Alaba International Market, and arrested.

Meanwhile, a maritime expert, who did not want his name mentioned, said the security around the ship was expected.

According to the expert, the security agencies will strive to avoid a repeat of the escape of the illegal bunkering ship MT African Pride from Nigerian waters in August 2004. NAN reports that this is not the first attempt to dump toxic wastes in Nigeria.

The first time was in 1988 when a shipment of over 3,500 tonnes of toxic wastes from Italy was dumped in Koko Port in Delta.

In April 2010, the NCS arrested and detained a Maersk Line vessel, MV Nashiville, laden with toxic waste (lead batteries classified as Basel code A1180 and broken televisions.

In June 2010, NCS also arrested and detained a ship, MV Gumel, in Lagos Port for bringing eight containers with materials suspected to be toxic waste.

Also a vessel, MV Vera D, carrying three containers laden with toxic black and white television sets, was detained at the Tin-Can Port, Lagos, in October 2010.

The toxic-laden containers were sent back to the port of origin in the U.S. In December 2012, NESREA impounded four containers of used electronics described as 'e-wastes' in Apapa port.

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