Seprona (Servicio de Protección de la Naturaleza), the Nature Protection Service of the Spanish police of Tenerife in the Canary Islands, has arrested 34 people suspected of illegally exporting hazardous waste to The Gambia and another African countries.
According to the Euro Weekly newspaper edition of 29th June, the criminal syndicate is fronted by an Italian woman who allegedly forged documents stating that the goods were second-hand but in working order.
“She obtained genuine export documents which allowed the gang to fill containers with a selection of motor vehicles, vehicle parts, household goods, used electrical and electronic equipment. The material was either found discarded in rubbish tips or purchased cheaply at flea markets and was sold in Africa for scrap where it was stripped of anything of worth with whatever was left over being simply discarded,” the paper reported.
It stated that between 2018 and 2019 alone, 2,460 tonnes of waste were shipped, of which 740 tons were electronic equipment including refrigerators which release toxic gasses if not disposed of properly.
Many African countries have far less stringent laws concerning disposal of dangerous waste material.
The goods ended up in The Gambia, Senegal, Guinea Conakry, Sierra Leone Ghana, Togo and Benin, with the bulk going to Nigeria.
The paper could not confirm whether any Gambians were among those arrested or involved in the shipment of the hazardous waste.