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


TIMEIN: 11:17:45:23 TIMEOUT: 11:17:49:00

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


TIMEIN: 11:19:12:09 TIMEOUT: 11:19:15:05

On top of these waste tires

TIMEIN: 11:19:15:10 TIMEOUT: 11:19:18:23

we see televisions that have not been


TIMEIN: 11:19:20:19 TIMEOUT: 11:19:25:16

Such apparatus normally has to be

handled with very great care.

TIMEIN: 11:19:25:23 TIMEOUT: 11:19:29:16

We have agreed with our

neighbouring countries

TIMEIN: 11:19:29:20 TIMEOUT: 11:19:36:10

that we will regard all unpackaged

television sets as hazardous waste.

TIMEIN: 11:19:36:14 TIMEOUT: 11:19:38:21

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.

TIMEIN: 11:19:47:02 TIMEOUT: 11:19:49:01

The same is true of computers.

TIMEIN: 11:19:49:05 TIMEOUT: 11:19:53:05

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

TIMEIN: 11:19:58:21 TIMEOUT: 11:20:01:17

and cannot be exported to Third World


TIMEIN: 11:20:01:21 TIMEOUT: 11:20:05:13

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:

TIMEIN: 11:20:10:10 TIMEOUT: 11:20:12:06

8 million containers a year.

TIMEIN: 11:20:12:10 TIMEOUT: 11:20:17:13

Their task is impossible. Most illegal

shipments slip through easily.

TIMEIN: 11:20:18:05 TIMEOUT: 11:20:20:03

There must be hundreds.

TIMEIN: 11:20:20:07 TIMEOUT: 11:20:25:11

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,

TIMEIN: 11:20:30:00 TIMEOUT: 11:20:31:18

a ship bound for Ghana.

TIMEIN: 11:20:31:22 TIMEOUT: 11:20:33:07

After she sailed

TIMEIN: 11:20:33:12 TIMEOUT: 11:20:38:02

her bills of lading revealed several

other suspect containers.

TIMEIN: 11:20:46:05 TIMEOUT: 11:20:48:13

Ghanaian colleagues were alerted.

TIMEIN: 11:20:48:17 TIMEOUT: 11:20:52:05

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.

TIMEIN: 11:21:07:12 TIMEOUT: 11:21:11:01

3 weeks later we are 5 thousand km

farther south,

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in the Port of Tema, in Ghana,

West Africa.

TIMEIN: 11:21:14:10 TIMEOUT: 11:21:18:24

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,

TIMEIN: 11:21:30:00 TIMEOUT: 11:21:33:17

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


TIMEIN: 11:22:28:19 TIMEOUT: 11:22:31:03

Our search is a race against time.

TIMEIN: 11:22:31:07 TIMEOUT: 11:22:34:23

The instant they find out we're banned

from filming we're finished.

TIMEIN: 11:22:39:22 TIMEOUT: 11:22:41:05

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


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.

TIMEIN: 11:24:20:22 TIMEOUT: 11:24:25:09

In Africa much can be accomplished

with very simple tools.

TIMEIN: 11:24:56:22 TIMEOUT: 11:25:01:12

Some people doubt the profitability

of Ghana's secondhand shops.

TIMEIN: 11:25:33:04 TIMEOUT: 11:25:37:06

Sellers who select this carefully

are in the minority.

TIMEIN: 11:25:37:10 TIMEOUT: 11:25:41:09

Here we see a pile of apparently

unusable junk.

TIMEIN: 11:25:41:23 TIMEOUT: 11:25:43:05

This can't work.

TIMEIN: 11:25:44:01 TIMEOUT: 11:25:45:08

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


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.

TIMEIN: 11:26:00:14 TIMEOUT: 11:26:04:16

Amongst the junk there are lots of

Dutch and English books.

TIMEIN: 11:26:04:20 TIMEOUT: 11:26:06:16

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.

TIMEIN: 11:26:48:12 TIMEOUT: 11:26:51:13

Using hammers, stones and their

bare hands,

TIMEIN: 11:26:51:18 TIMEOUT: 11:26:55:10

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


- Yes.

TIMEIN: 11:28:15:09 TIMEOUT: 11:28:17:05

And copper?

- Yes.

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

And what do you get for it?

- Me? I get money.

TIMEIN: 11:28:38:09 TIMEOUT: 11:28:40:16

But Agbobloshie is here to stay.

TIMEIN: 11:28:40:20 TIMEOUT: 11:28:43:06

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

TIMEIN: 11:29:04:20 TIMEOUT: 11:29:09:12

about the export of electronics

to the Third World.

TIMEIN: 11:29:09:16 TIMEOUT: 11:29:13:18

Reusable goods can be exported,

under certain conditions.

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

Waste, such as this waste here,


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

Roughly half of all the electronic

apparatus sent to here from Antwerp

TIMEIN: 11:29:24:19 TIMEOUT: 11:29:27:00

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.

TIMEIN: 11:29:38:02 TIMEOUT: 11:29:43:09

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.

TIMEIN: 11:29:45:10 TIMEOUT: 11:29:48:24

Two thirds end up in the grey or black


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

TIMEIN: 11:29:56:08 TIMEOUT: 11:30:00:07

that are unable to process it


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

Unless you find this environmentally


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

TIMEIN: 11:31:35:21 TIMEOUT: 11:31:39:14

with some dealers in secondhand


TIMEIN: 11:32:51:04 TIMEOUT: 11:32:53:06

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

TIMEIN: 11:33:14:24 TIMEOUT: 11:33:18:22

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.

TIMEIN: 11:33:21:06 TIMEOUT: 11:33:25:19

A film is being shown. We will have

to wait until it is over.

TIMEIN: 11:33:26:20 TIMEOUT: 11:33:28:10

15 of us sleep here.

TIMEIN: 11:33:28:14 TIMEOUT: 11:33:33:01

If you come to the city to work,

you end up here.

TIMEIN: 11:33:33:06 TIMEOUT: 11:33:36:19

We don't have any other place

to sleep.

TIMEIN: 11:33:36:23 TIMEOUT: 11:33:40:07

Our fathers and our mothers aren't


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

We've come here to earn money

to take back to our home town.

TIMEIN: 11:33:45:08 TIMEOUT: 11:33:49:08

If you collect 15 kilos, they'll give you

30 thousand cedis.

TIMEIN: 11:33:49:12 TIMEOUT: 11:33:52:16

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.

TIMEIN: 11:34:16:24 TIMEOUT: 11:34:19:16

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.

TIMEIN: 11:34:31:00 TIMEOUT: 11:34:35:11

But the check is yet again delayed,

for yet another reason.

TIMEIN: 11:34:35:20 TIMEOUT: 11:34:37:09

It is incredible.

TIMEIN: 11:34:37:13 TIMEOUT: 11:34:42:02

We've spent almost 2 days collecting

all the permits we need

TIMEIN: 11:34:42:06 TIMEOUT: 11:34:44:06

to check the containers.

TIMEIN: 11:34:44:12 TIMEOUT: 11:34:45:22

There they are.

TIMEIN: 11:34:46:01 TIMEOUT: 11:34:50:16

The environmental, customs

and national security officers

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

are all here.

TIMEIN: 11:34:52:04 TIMEOUT: 11:34:55:12

But the shipping line refuses to send


TIMEIN: 11:34:55:16 TIMEOUT: 11:34:58:24

and so we can't look inside these


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,

TIMEIN: 11:36:06:07 TIMEOUT: 11:36:09:12

but it will decide itself when to apply


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

The next day one of the containers

is finally opened.

TIMEIN: 11:36:33:02 TIMEOUT: 11:36:35:10

The result is better than expected.

TIMEIN: 11:36:35:14 TIMEOUT: 11:36:39:06

The goods look sound and are

probably still usable.

TIMEIN: 11:36:39:13 TIMEOUT: 11:36:42:14

They promise to check the other

containers too,

TIMEIN: 11:36:42:18 TIMEOUT: 11:36:44:18

but there's no point in us waiting.

TIMEIN: 11:36:44:22 TIMEOUT: 11:36:47:02

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.

TIMEIN: 11:37:24:14 TIMEOUT: 11:37:27:14

In the distance we see something


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


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

1 km to the east, tourists are


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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