Dutch petrol companies exporting toxic fuel to African countries
Dutch companies are exporting harmful fuel for cars to African countries on a large scale, resulting in the population being exposed to "increased levels of carcinogenic benzene, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter," the Dutch Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate concluded in a report, Trouw reports.
"We expect measures from the fuel sector," Frank Peen of the Inspectorate said to the newspaper. The gasoline supplied to Africa is in a compound that has long been banned on the European market. "The companies must apply the same standard for Africa as they do for Europe."
The low quality fuel is not only bad for human health and the environment, but also damages catalytic converters and particulate filters, causing cars to emit even more harmful substances. "That is the tragedy," Peen said. "If a country wants to improve air quality, it will not be possible because Dutch companies sell fuels that are of poor quality."
Companies in Rotterdam and especially Amsterdam are responsible for the export of the harmful fuels, the Inspectorate said. These involve traders who mix fuels. Their suppliers are refineries and chemical companies. "Refineries extract sulfur from the fuels sold in Europe, but do not desulphurize the products for Africa. Chemical companies supply a residual product that is left over from the production of plastic to the fuel trade. It contains benzene," Peen said. About two thirds of the Dutch traders' exports go two Africa.
The export of low quality fuel is not prohibited. "The standards of the country where this petrol is marketed are decisive," Peen explained. The Inspectorate still appeals to the sector to change. "According to the Environmental Management Act, trade has a duty of care. If you know there are risks associated with the sale of your product, you must take measures. We therefore expect traders but also manufacturers in the chemical and refining sectors to do so. If not, a penalty may be imposed."
"Clean air and achieving climate goals are on the global agenda. The working method of fuel traders is not in line with this," the Inspectorate said in its report.