A new report by Swiss-based non-governmental organisation, Public Eye has criticised commodity-trading firms in Switzerland for their links to the trade of fuel to African countries, which has toxin levels that would be illegal in Europe.
The report titled Dirty Diesel says that diesel retailers are exploiting weak regulatory standards to profit from “dirty” fuel sold to African consumers.
The report alleges that some diesel samples collected in eight African countries contained sulphur levels that were more than 300 times that which is permitted in Europe.
Although this is within legal limits set by national governments, diesel fumes from such fuel could increase respiratory illnesses like asthma and bronchitis in affected countries.
The report says that four Swiss commodity companies Vitol, Trafigura, Addax & Oryx and Lynx Energy benefit from this trade as shareholders in the distribution companies.
But Trafigura and Vitol say that the report is misconceived and that they operate at arms length from the retailers who work within strict legal limits in these countries.
Of the distribution companies involved, three have responded to the report saying that they meet the regulatory requirements of the market and have no vested interest in keeping sulphur levels higher than they need to be.
Legal sulphur levels differ greatly between African countries as shown by the map.
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