March 13, 2017

GHANA: Australian Computer E-waste In Amounts Of Up To Almost 600,000 Tonnes A Year Is Being illegally Shipped, Dumped In World's Worst Dump Where Poor Children Live., Australia
written by Candace Sutton
Friday March 10, 2017

IT’S name is Agbogbloshie dump and it is a scene from hell where African children live among Australian computer waste illegally dumped in amounts of up to almost 600,000 tonnes a year.

Amid the hazardous waste where some of the world’s poorest children earn a living and contract life-threatening diseases can be found Australian bank brand computers.

They are among the mountains of Australia’s secret disposal of electronic waste, which arrives on three container ships a month in the Ghanaian capital of Accra, ABC Radio National reports.

At Agbogbloshie, children as young as five tear apart discarded computers with their hands and burn circuit boards over open fires to melt out the precious metals.

As a result, they contract skin diseases which give them open sores, as well as headaches, heart disease and other conditions like cancer, which see many of them dead by the age of 20.

When ABC Radio National reporter Rebecca LeTourneau led an investigation into the toxic e-waste dump in western Africa, she found direct evidence of Australia’s shameful trade.

Ghanaian environmental reporter, Mike Anane, on assignment for RN’s Background Briefing, discovered a St George Bank brand monitor during a routine visit to check on the health and welfare of children working at Agbogbloshie dump, considered the worst dump in the world.

Set on former wetlands and home to 40,000 impoverished migrants, Agbogbloshie is also nicknamed “Sodom and Gomorrah”.

Cows with open wounds from the poisonous e-waste still graze on the ground.

Spot fires burn, black smoke billows into the air and young children live in the socio-economic and environmental catastrophe.

Agbogbloshie is alleged to be the centre of a both legal and illegal exportation network for the environmental dumping of electronic waste from industrialised nations.

ABC Radio National reports that broken or redundant computers are considered hazardous waste and are illegal to ship out of Australia, “so the discovery of the St George bank monitor raises serious questions”.

St George Bank, a division of Westpac Bank, claimed “gold standard” environmental stewardship, and there is no suggestion either bank has acted illegally.

When Background Briefing brought the discovery of the monitor on the western African tip to Westpac’s attention, it responded that the “right processes to ensure the St George Bank monitor was dispatched” to its registered recycling partner.

In Ghana, Mike Anane reported for the ABC that “over 500 container loads of electronic waste are coming from these developed countries, including Australia, every single month.

“Lately there is so much coming from Australia. I see about three container loads of electronic waste coming from Australia every single month.”

Background Briefing showed a video of a 13-year-old boy on the Agbogbloshie dump holding the bank’s monitor to WorkVentures, which has the contract for Westpac’s 15,000 e-waste items every year.

However, WorkVentures later confirmed to Radio National via its asset register that it processed the monitor in 2012 and sent it on to another recycler.

Neither WorkVentures nor Westpac would agree to further interviews about the integrity of their e-waste disposal chain, or how the monitor ended up on the Agbogbloshie dump, the ABC reported.

It discovered that third party recyclers prepared to illegally export e-waste can contact rogue dealers who offer sums like $500 per 1000kg of broken or smashed computers.

For the mostly boys and young men who subsist at Agbogbloshie dump, the daily reality of their existence is nightmarish.

They suffer burns, untreated wounds and eye damage from the melting down of computer parts.

They are also struck down with chronic nausea, anorexia, respiratory issues and severe headaches.

Malaria abounds due to the mosquitoes which flourish in the marshy tip.

Many of Agbogbloshie’s residents have left their families in the poor northern and western regions of Ghana for a better life.

Few of them will ever return home alive.

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