TALLINN - Estonian maritime authorities have rejected a demand by the environmental activist group Greenpeace to impound the Panamanian-registered vessel Probo Koala, suspected of dumping toxic waste in waters off Ivory Coast.
"The Probo Koala ship that was blocked Monday evening in the Estonian port of Paldiski by a Greenpeace ship has no toxic waste on board," Tarmo Ots, head of the Maritime Administration's foreign and media relations, told AFP.
"The ship was checked by Estonian authorities on September 15 and was found to be clean of any toxic waste. It has not yet left the port and we do not see the need for any new checks," he said.
"We do treat Greenpeace demands with respect but there is just no substance behind the Greenpeace claim."
A Greenpeace statement issued Monday said the Probo Koala had "dumped toxic waste in Abidjan, in Ivory Coast, killing seven people and causing mass panic, with 44,000 people seeking medical assistance."
Greenpeace activists blocked the ......
..... Probo Koala in Paldiski harbour briefly on Monday evening, calling the Baltic port "atoxic crime scene."
Estonian officials planned to go aboard the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise later Tuesday to point out that "Greenpeace activists entered Paldiski port late Monday without permission and violated maritime rules," Ots said.
Greenpeace asked Estonia, which joined the EU in 2004, to impound the ship, and called on thein Brussels to "ensure that the ship is held until a full criminal investigation is carried out and those responsible for the illegal waste export, and ensuing deaths, are brought to justice."
The Dutch company which chartered the Probo Koala said Monday that tests conducted on the ship's cargo that was dumped at the end of August on refuse sites in Abidjan, Ivory Coast's largest city, showed it contained "little or no toxicity" and was in line with international laws.
In Abidjan's toxic waste scandal, toxic dumping was blamed last month for seven deaths, 66 hospitalisations and more than 60,000 medical consultations.