Environment radioactive waste found dumped in Somalia

Published on March 27th, 2011 | by Rhonda Winter


More Illegally Dumped Radioactive Waste Found on Somalia’s Coast

Yesterday the BBC reported that radiation levels at the crippled Fukushima reactor site are ten million times normal levels. As the oceans near the damaged nuclear plant are becoming contaminated with increasing amounts of nuclear radiation, concerns are growing about how much radioactive poison the planet’s seas can withstand.

However, although it is not receiving anywhere near as much attention as the unfolding disaster in Japan, the massive amounts of illegally dumped radioactive nuclear waste that are still being thrown into Somalia’s oceans potentially could prove to be an even more deadly catastrophe.

radioactive waste found dumped in Somalia

“Safely” Disposed Nuclear Waste?

For decades members of organized crime syndicates and other western companies have been freely dumping tons of radioactive nuclear waste into the unregulated shores off Somalia’s coastline, poisoning the seas and devastating the local population. Somalia has not had a functioning government for many years; the scores of rusty leaking hazardous waste tanks that have been washing up on their shores prove just how many criminals have been exploiting the nation’s inability to protect their own waters.

Project Censored and Boing Boing have been reporting on this horrific situation that is unfolding in the African country:

“…As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more than 300 died.

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy to Somalia, tells me: ‘Somebody is dumping nuclear material here. There is also lead, and heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury – you name it.’ Much of it can be traced back to European hospitals and factories, who seem to be passing it on to the Italian mafia to ‘dispose’ of cheaply. When I asked Mr Ould-Abdallah what European governments were doing about it, he said with a sigh: ‘Nothing. There has been no clean-up, no compensation, and no prevention.’

At the same time, other European ships have been looting Somalia’s seas of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our own fish stocks by over-exploitation – and now we have moved on to theirs. More than $300m-worth of tuna, shrimp, and lobster are being stolen every year by illegal trawlers. The local fishermen are now starving.”

Floating in a Sea of Hazardous Nuclear Waste

The Somalia press has also reported details about this ongoing environmental disaster that is being inflicted upon the impoverished nation. Mohammed O. Ali, the Director of Somalia’s Ministry of Aviation and Transport, explains that the once clean blue Somalia seas are now horribly contaminated with a growing toxic-waste nightmare, as more and more western chemical and shipping firms continue to poison their waters. Ali explained that:

“…the toxic dumping, which includes highly radioactive nuclear waste, was destroying the fragile coastal ecology and the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Somalis. Some residents in Mogadishu’s coastal areas already reported hundreds of dead fish washing ashore every day.

During the height of the Somali civil war, Swiss and Italian firms Achair Partners and Progresso, signed a secret agreement with the transitional government of warlord Ali Mahdi Mohamed. Taking advantage of the chaos and the fact that Ali Mahdi was desperate for arms and cash to oust rival General Farah Aideed– the European firms began to unload thousands of tonnes of toxic waste arriving in steel drums off the coast of Somalia. Some even made it to the mainland and were buried in 40 inches by 30 inches holes.

The main perpetrators are said to be Italian firms controlled by the mafia, whose job is to dispose Europe’s extremely hazardous waste. Locals also suspect German and Danish shipping companies are in the trade, with some contracted to transport thousands of tonnes of poisonous stockpile including 60, 000 hexachlorobenzene (HCB) barrels from Australia. They say, sometimes instead of taking the hazardous waste to Europe where it can be incinerated, they dump it in the Somali coast to save money and time and also they face strong opposition from Europe’s environmental action groups.

In 2010, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish port staff refused to unload a ship carrying 3000 tonnes of HCB waste from Sydney, Australia. Furthermore they said one gram of HCB was enough to contaminate one billion gallons (over 3 billion litres) of water.”


It seems tragically ironic that so much care and attention are being focused on the recent nuclear catastrophe in Japan, yet absolutely nothing is being said or done to protect millions of Somalis who have been poisoned for decades by our illegally dumped hazardous nuclear waste. Who are the real criminal pirates here?

image is via the Somaliland Press
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About the Author

was raised by wolves, and subsequently has difficulty interacting with other humans; she can also be found on and Twitter.

22 Responses to More Illegally Dumped Radioactive Waste Found on Somalia’s Coast

  1. David Brown says:

    what a mess we are making of the world

    whenever we see a problem caused by local people it pays to dig deeper and find out why

    capitalism encourages quick profit fixes

  2. Tara says:

    UN proudly announced new pirate prison with their funding!

    Pirate Prison Opened in Somaliland’s Capital With United Nations Funding

  3. Aaron says:

    It is called Karma. Boo hoo Somalia.

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  5. The criminals, who have and are still polluting the ocean and costline outside Somalia with nuclear waste, heavy metals etcetera, must be found and severely punished. 300 somalian people have allready died from contaminations from all the poison from the sea. Many more are ill, because of the poison. So why don´t the European ships in the Somalian Ocean try to find out? Or do they? They must. It´s a great scandal.

  6. william wallace says:

    could somebody explain to me why I would pay the cost of transportation to Somalia if I Intended to dump the waste illegally. my bet is the papers are in order and the Somalis dumped the waste instead of placing it in proper land fills as I am sure the paper work indicates. The same goes for fishing most boats have paid for fishing rights and have proper paper work. That the money was stolen and the proper methods were not adhered to is purely a Somali problem and no justification for piracy. You people are brain dead to take a Somalis word for anything. Google rich Somali fishing grounds and see if you come up with anything creditable. You won’t starve next to a great fishing hole. Show some sense.

    • abdul says:

      The type of thinking and ignorence being expressed in the comment above is the what makes the world a divided place . Why be so nescientic , what’s wrong with taking a Somali’s word . Are you indicating that after two decades or war , famine , and destruction that somali’s are too dumb for common sense ? It seems to me that you were brain-dead your self when you wrote this . Before you speculate , goto the somali coastline and see for yourself . It’s our job as the west and most especialy as americans to protect the intrest of those who can’t protect their own . No one is trying to justify piracy ; but it does sound like however you my friend are justifing toxic disposal on foriegn soil . If you actually understood the geography of the somali coastline ,you could come to find the indian ocean has an abundence of sealife . Meaning hundreads of millions ( purhaps billions ) of dollars are being ilegally fished of the coast of a helpless , straving , and despot country . That not only speaks volume of the thinking by us westerners ; but the thinking of humanity in it’s essence now an days .

  7. tripoli's wise man. says:

    wow, you do not hear about this on BBC/CNN, the story is always about somali pirates trying to kidnap someone or some ship and ask for a ransom, but they never mention the crime against humanity commited by their fellow europeans.

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  19. sam branton says:

    its a sad sign of our times, the nuclear industry seems to be regulated by governments who just dont care about the disposal of the highly toxic waste, out of sight out of mind, the industry needs regulating on a global scale. If I took money and to dispose of this waste and dumped it in the Thames I would go to prison, they would likely even bring back the death sentence, yet corporations and government can do as the they please, perhaps I am in the wrong business…

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