E-WASTE FROM ANTWERP TO GHANA



TIMEIN: 11:17:32:07 TIMEOUT: 11:17:36:10

This week's investigation takes us

from Antwerp to Ghana.


TIMEIN: 11:17:36:14 TIMEOUT: 11:17:41:09

Jan Holderbeke follows the trail of

discarded computers and fridges.


TIMEIN: 11:17:41:13 TIMEOUT: 11:17:45:19

Belgium is a hub of the traffic in toxic

e-waste.


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Our waste is poisoning their children.


TIMEIN: 11:18:30:13 TIMEOUT: 11:18:33:24

Our Waste in Africa


TIMEIN: 11:18:38:22 TIMEOUT: 11:18:41:17

It is cold on the quay:

minus 5 degrees.


TIMEIN: 11:18:45:23 TIMEOUT: 11:18:49:13

The story of our waste in Africa begins

in Antwerp.


TIMEIN: 11:18:49:17 TIMEOUT: 11:18:53:11

A container is being emptied by

customs officers.


TIMEIN: 11:18:53:16 TIMEOUT: 11:18:56:02

Its bill of lading seemed suspect.


TIMEIN: 11:19:01:19 TIMEOUT: 11:19:06:24

The bill listed secondhand TVs, fridges

and computers en route to Ghana.


TIMEIN: 11:19:09:00 TIMEOUT: 11:19:12:05

An environmental officer examines

them.


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On top of these waste tires


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we see televisions that have not been

packaged.


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Such apparatus normally has to be

handled with very great care.


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We have agreed with our

neighbouring countries


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that we will regard all unpackaged

television sets as hazardous waste.


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What is so hazardous about a TV?


TIMEIN: 11:19:39:00 TIMEOUT: 11:19:46:04

The screen has powders in it

that contain hazardous heavy metals.


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The same is true of computers.


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And the CFCs in old fridges make

them toxic waste too.


TIMEIN: 11:19:53:19 TIMEOUT: 11:19:58:17

The inspectors conclude that half of

this shipment is toxic e-waste


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and cannot be exported to Third World

countries.


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The container is returned to

its shipper in Germany.


TIMEIN: 11:20:06:00 TIMEOUT: 11:20:10:06

A 4-officer unit searches

the Port of Antwerp for illegal waste:


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8 million containers a year.


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Their task is impossible. Most illegal

shipments slip through easily.


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There must be hundreds.


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That you can't stop?

- That we can't stop in time. Yes.


TIMEIN: 11:20:26:02 TIMEOUT: 11:20:29:21

The stopped container was intended

for the Julie Delmas,


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a ship bound for Ghana.


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After she sailed


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her bills of lading revealed several

other suspect containers.


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Ghanaian colleagues were alerted.


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They promised a fresh check when

the ship docked.


TIMEIN: 11:21:03:09 TIMEOUT: 11:21:06:04

It is hot on the quay: 35 degrees.


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3 weeks later we are 5 thousand km

farther south,


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in the Port of Tema, in Ghana,

West Africa.


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This ship should have carried the

container we had checked in Antwerp.


TIMEIN: 11:21:19:03 TIMEOUT: 11:21:24:03

There is no sign yet of the check

the Ghanaian authorities promised us.


TIMEIN: 11:21:24:24 TIMEOUT: 11:21:29:21

We had arranged to observe and film

the Ghanaian inspectors,


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but this is suddenly hampered by

the Port Director.


TIMEIN: 11:21:38:17 TIMEOUT: 11:21:40:17

Stop. Look up there.


TIMEIN: 11:21:41:09 TIMEOUT: 11:21:45:08

But we still intend to find those

suspect containers.


TIMEIN: 11:21:45:12 TIMEOUT: 11:21:48:06

We are helped by unsuspecting

dockers.


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Our search is a race against time.


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The instant they find out we're banned

from filming we're finished.


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But we strike lucky.


TIMEIN: 11:22:41:09 TIMEOUT: 11:22:45:24

We find one of the containers

identified in Belgium as suspect.


TIMEIN: 11:22:57:15 TIMEOUT: 11:23:01:09

And then our fears are realised.

A car races up to us.


TIMEIN: 11:23:01:13 TIMEOUT: 11:23:04:18

To avoid further problems, we stop

filming.


TIMEIN: 11:23:05:05 TIMEOUT: 11:23:08:05

Attempt 1 has failed. We hurry away.


TIMEIN: 11:23:08:17 TIMEOUT: 11:23:13:01

We search the city for secondhand

computers, fridges and TVs...


TIMEIN: 11:23:13:05 TIMEOUT: 11:23:14:21

and e-waste.


TIMEIN: 11:23:15:07 TIMEOUT: 11:23:19:21

We are now on one of the main roads

in the Ghanaian capital Accra.


TIMEIN: 11:23:20:00 TIMEOUT: 11:23:24:12

Let's see what this secondhand

computer shop has to offer.


TIMEIN: 11:23:49:00 TIMEOUT: 11:23:53:08

Mark says he collects his computers

himself, in Birmingham, UK.


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In Africa much can be accomplished

with very simple tools.


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Some people doubt the profitability

of Ghana's secondhand shops.


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Sellers who select this carefully

are in the minority.


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Here we see a pile of apparently

unusable junk.


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This can't work.


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This can't work.


TIMEIN: 11:25:45:13 TIMEOUT: 11:25:47:08

This one can't work.


TIMEIN: 11:25:48:10 TIMEOUT: 11:25:52:19

This one is good. The other ones are

broken.


TIMEIN: 11:25:53:05 TIMEOUT: 11:25:54:18

So you will buy this one?


TIMEIN: 11:25:54:22 TIMEOUT: 11:25:56:13

How much will you pay?


TIMEIN: 11:25:57:22 TIMEOUT: 11:26:00:07

He's going to pay 15 cedis.


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Amongst the junk there are lots of

Dutch and English books.


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There is a reason for this.


TIMEIN: 11:26:15:07 TIMEOUT: 11:26:18:21

The goods in secondhand shops were

often shoddy.


TIMEIN: 11:26:19:00 TIMEOUT: 11:26:23:02

But here things get worse.

This is Agbobloshie rubbish tip.


TIMEIN: 11:26:40:16 TIMEOUT: 11:26:43:14

Agbobloshie horrifies Western eyes.


TIMEIN: 11:26:43:18 TIMEOUT: 11:26:47:20

For these children it is a vital source

of income.


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Using hammers, stones and their

bare hands,


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they dismantle our old TVs, fridges

and computers.


TIMEIN: 11:27:21:22 TIMEOUT: 11:27:26:17

Freelance journalist Mike Anane

has devoted his career to this topic.


TIMEIN: 11:27:26:21 TIMEOUT: 11:27:30:16

He is now as much of an activist

as he is a journalist.


TIMEIN: 11:28:11:14 TIMEOUT: 11:28:13:14

I'm looking for tin.


TIMEIN: 11:28:13:22 TIMEOUT: 11:28:15:05

Tin?

- Yes.


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And copper?

- Yes.


TIMEIN: 11:28:17:17 TIMEOUT: 11:28:21:02

And what do you get for it?

- Me? I get money.


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But Agbobloshie is here to stay.


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They've even built a mosque there.


TIMEIN: 11:28:50:08 TIMEOUT: 11:28:52:06

Flemish MP Rudi Daems


TIMEIN: 11:28:52:10 TIMEOUT: 11:28:55:19

has been trying to stop the flow of

waste to the Third World.


TIMEIN: 11:28:55:23 TIMEOUT: 11:29:01:01

But dumping in Africa is ten times

cheaper than processing in Europe.


TIMEIN: 11:29:01:15 TIMEOUT: 11:29:04:16

The EU has relatively tight legislation


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about the export of electronics

to the Third World.


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Reusable goods can be exported,

under certain conditions.


TIMEIN: 11:29:13:22 TIMEOUT: 11:29:17:14

Waste, such as this waste here,

cannot.


TIMEIN: 11:29:17:18 TIMEOUT: 11:29:24:15

Roughly half of all the electronic

apparatus sent to here from Antwerp


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is what we call 'e-waste'.


TIMEIN: 11:29:27:06 TIMEOUT: 11:29:30:12

This is illegal. So why does it happen?


TIMEIN: 11:29:31:09 TIMEOUT: 11:29:33:18

We've already heard the answer:


TIMEIN: 11:29:33:22 TIMEOUT: 11:29:37:23

In Antwerp 4 officers have to check

8 million containers.


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In Flanders roughly one third of all

discarded electronic goods


TIMEIN: 11:29:43:14 TIMEOUT: 11:29:45:06

end up where they should.


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Two thirds end up in the grey or black

circuit.


TIMEIN: 11:29:49:03 TIMEOUT: 11:29:53:20

That may be with a scrap dealer,

or even in the household rubbish.


TIMEIN: 11:29:53:24 TIMEOUT: 11:29:56:04

But much gets sent to countries


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that are unable to process it

appropriately.


TIMEIN: 11:30:00:16 TIMEOUT: 11:30:04:05

Unless you find this environmentally

friendly.


TIMEIN: 11:30:08:16 TIMEOUT: 11:30:12:24

The smoke is not going towards

any people.


TIMEIN: 11:30:13:03 TIMEOUT: 11:30:17:08

Not going towards people?

But there are people over there.


TIMEIN: 11:30:17:13 TIMEOUT: 11:30:21:10

The smoke rises above those people.

It goes up.


TIMEIN: 11:30:22:09 TIMEOUT: 11:30:24:14

The smoke goes higher?

- Yes.


TIMEIN: 11:30:24:20 TIMEOUT: 11:30:27:07

So it's not dangerous?

- No, it's not.


TIMEIN: 11:30:27:11 TIMEOUT: 11:30:30:24

Aren't you sick sometimes?

- Yes, I am sick.


TIMEIN: 11:30:31:03 TIMEOUT: 11:30:32:14

Are you sick?

- Yes.


TIMEIN: 11:30:32:18 TIMEOUT: 11:30:34:04

What do you have?


TIMEIN: 11:30:34:09 TIMEOUT: 11:30:38:19

If the heat makes you too hot,

you get sick.


TIMEIN: 11:30:38:24 TIMEOUT: 11:30:41:21

So it's not the smoke?

- No, it's not the smoke.


TIMEIN: 11:30:43:18 TIMEOUT: 11:30:47:04

Do you know what dioxins are?

- No.


TIMEIN: 11:30:47:09 TIMEOUT: 11:30:48:22

They give you cancer.


TIMEIN: 11:30:49:02 TIMEOUT: 11:30:53:22

You know what cancer is?

- Yes. I mean no. I don't know.


TIMEIN: 11:31:29:09 TIMEOUT: 11:31:32:16

In need of fresher air, we head back

to the city.


TIMEIN: 11:31:32:20 TIMEOUT: 11:31:35:16

There we engage in a lively discussion


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with some dealers in secondhand

goods.


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Economy versus ecology.


TIMEIN: 11:32:53:10 TIMEOUT: 11:32:56:24

Nowhere is the contrast as glaring

as on this tip.


TIMEIN: 11:33:10:09 TIMEOUT: 11:33:14:20

Kofi and Osman, 12 and 8 years old,

take us to their sleeping place


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in the overcrowded slums, right next

to the tip.


TIMEIN: 11:33:19:06 TIMEOUT: 11:33:21:02

The blue hut is the cinema.


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A film is being shown. We will have

to wait until it is over.


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15 of us sleep here.


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If you come to the city to work,

you end up here.


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We don't have any other place

to sleep.


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Our fathers and our mothers aren't

here.


TIMEIN: 11:33:40:11 TIMEOUT: 11:33:45:04

We've come here to earn money

to take back to our home town.


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If you collect 15 kilos, they'll give you

30 thousand cedis.


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For 30 kilos, they'll give you

60 thousand.


TIMEIN: 11:33:52:20 TIMEOUT: 11:33:55:14

We come here for that money.


TIMEIN: 11:33:56:14 TIMEOUT: 11:34:01:16

The Ghanaian government is taking

tentative steps to protect such people.


TIMEIN: 11:34:01:20 TIMEOUT: 11:34:07:04

We were promised, for instance, that

those containers would be checked.


TIMEIN: 11:34:08:09 TIMEOUT: 11:34:10:12

A day after our failed attempt,


TIMEIN: 11:34:10:16 TIMEOUT: 11:34:16:12

we are told that 6 of the 15 suspect

containers are going to be checked.


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But we are not yet allowed

to see them.


TIMEIN: 11:34:23:07 TIMEOUT: 11:34:28:05

Some 5 stamps and permits later,

we are allowed to see the containers.


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But the check is yet again delayed,

for yet another reason.


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It is incredible.


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We've spent almost 2 days collecting

all the permits we need


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to check the containers.


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There they are.


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The environmental, customs

and national security officers


TIMEIN: 11:34:50:20 TIMEOUT: 11:34:52:00

are all here.


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But the shipping line refuses to send

anybody


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and so we can't look inside these

containers.


TIMEIN: 11:34:59:16 TIMEOUT: 11:35:04:16

To our surprise, the environmental

officer agrees to be interviewed.


TIMEIN: 11:35:04:20 TIMEOUT: 11:35:06:20

We can't believe our ears.


TIMEIN: 11:35:59:14 TIMEOUT: 11:36:03:14

Ghana may have signed all

the international treaties


TIMEIN: 11:36:03:18 TIMEOUT: 11:36:06:03

banning the import of e-waste,


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but it will decide itself when to apply

them.


TIMEIN: 11:36:29:03 TIMEOUT: 11:36:32:23

The next day one of the containers

is finally opened.


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The result is better than expected.


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The goods look sound and are

probably still usable.


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They promise to check the other

containers too,


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but there's no point in us waiting.


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This was clearly a sham check,


TIMEIN: 11:36:47:06 TIMEOUT: 11:36:51:05

carried out because of political

and journalistic pressure.


TIMEIN: 11:37:19:02 TIMEOUT: 11:37:20:16

A few hundred metres farther


TIMEIN: 11:37:20:20 TIMEOUT: 11:37:24:10

men are fishing in the mouth

of the river Odaw.


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In the distance we see something

strange.


TIMEIN: 11:37:29:08 TIMEOUT: 11:37:33:06

This is water from the Odaw after it

has passed through Agbobloshie tip.


TIMEIN: 11:37:33:10 TIMEOUT: 11:37:35:22

200 metres to the west, men are

fishing.


TIMEIN: 11:37:36:01 TIMEOUT: 11:37:39:06

1 km to the east, tourists are

sunbathing.


TIMEIN: 11:37:42:24 TIMEOUT: 11:37:47:19

An enormous pipe spews filthy water

onto the sand around the clock.


TIMEIN: 11:37:47:23 TIMEOUT: 11:37:50:09

The surrounding area is jet black.


TIMEIN: 11:37:57:12 TIMEOUT: 11:38:01:22

Labadi beach, just a few kilometres

from that waste pipe.


TIMEIN: 11:38:02:07 TIMEOUT: 11:38:04:09

Here the party never stops.


TIMEIN: 11:38:04:13 TIMEOUT: 11:38:09:20

It is 'the place to be' for people from

the capital and for Western tourists.


TIMEIN: 11:38:10:20 TIMEOUT: 11:38:15:21

Elissa, Sonja and Jen are three

Americans who are studying in Accra.


TIMEIN: 11:39:45:21 TIMEOUT: 11:39:48:20

Tourism and the import of toxic

Western waste:


TIMEIN: 11:39:48:24 TIMEOUT: 11:39:54:05

two sources of developing countries'

income are united in this one spot.


TIMEIN: 11:39:54:09 TIMEOUT: 11:39:57:17

4 million tons of waste are brought

here each year.


TIMEIN: 11:39:57:21 TIMEOUT: 11:40:00:05

And that amount is increasing.


TIMEIN: 11:40:11:00 TIMEOUT: 11:40:14:21

Where can development aid funding

go astray?


TIMEIN: 11:40:15:00 TIMEOUT: 11:40:18:12

An investigation in 2 African countries.

That's next week.


TIMEIN: 11:40:33:16 TIMEOUT: 11:40:34:23

.


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