Is Piracy A Cover For Nuclear Waste Dumping Off Africa?

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Who imagined that in 2009, the world's governments would be declaring a new War on Pirates? As you read this, the British Royal Navy - backed by the ships of more than two dozen nations, from the US to China - is sailing into Somalian waters to take on men we still picture as parrot-on-the-shoulder pantomime villains. They will soon be fighting Somalian ships and even chasing the pirates onto land, into one of the most broken countries on earth. But behind the arrr-me-hearties oddness of this tale, there is an untold scandal. The people our governments are labeling as "one of the great menace of our times" have an extraordinary story to tell -- and some justice on their side.

Pirates have never been quite who we think they are. In the "golden age of piracy" - from 1650 to 1730 - the idea of the pirate as the senseless, savage thief that lingers today was created by the British government in a great propaganda-heave. Many ordinary people believed it was false: pirates were often rescued from the gallows by supportive crowds. Why? What did they see that we can't? In his book Villains of All nations, the historian Marcus Rediker pores through the evidence to find out. If you became a merchant or navy sailor then - plucked from the docks of London's East End, young and hungry - you ended up in a floating wooden Hell. You worked all hours on a cramped, half-starved ship, and if you slacked off for a second, the all-powerful captain would whip you with the Cat O' Nine Tails. If you slacked consistently, you could be thrown overboard. And at the end of months or years of this, you were often cheated of your wages.

Pirates were the first people to rebel against this world. They mutinied against their tyrannical captains - and created a different way of working on the seas. Once they had a ship, the pirates elected their captains, and made all their decisions collectively. They shared their bounty out in what Rediker calls "one of the most egalitarian plans for the disposition of resources to be found anywhere in the eighteenth century." They even took in escaped African slaves and lived with them as equals. The pirates showed "quite clearly - and subversively - that ships did not have to be run in the brutal and oppressive ways of the merchant service and the Royal navy." This is why they were popular, despite being unproductive thieves.

The words of one pirate from that lost age - a young British man called William Scott - should echo into this new age of piracy. Just before he was hanged in Charleston, South Carolina, he said: "What I did was to keep me from perishing. I was forced to go a-pirating to live." In 1991, the government of Somalia - in the Horn of Africa - collapsed. Its nine million people have been teetering on starvation ever since - and many of the ugliest forces in the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity to steal the country's food supply and dump our nuclear waste in their seas.

Yes: nuclear waste. 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 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, lobster and other sea-life is being stolen every year by vast trawlers illegally sailing into Somalia's unprotected seas. The local fishermen have suddenly lost their livelihoods, and they are starving. Mohammed Hussein, a fisherman in the town of Marka 100km south of Mogadishu, told Reuters: "If nothing is done, there soon won't be much fish left in our coastal waters."

This is the context in which the men we are calling "pirates" have emerged. Everyone agrees they were ordinary Somalian fishermen who at first took speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers, or at least wage a 'tax' on them. They call themselves the Volunteer Coastguard of Somalia - and it's not hard to see why. In a surreal telephone interview, one of the pirate leaders, Sugule Ali, said their motive was "to stop illegal fishing and dumping in our waters... We don't consider ourselves sea bandits. We consider sea bandits [to be] those who illegally fish and dump in our seas and dump waste in our seas and carry weapons in our seas." William Scott would understand those words.



Somalia, A New Trainig Ground for U.S. Forces
Posted by Uncle B on 2009-01-10 21:13:28
They are already black, poor, and undereducated. put U.S. Uniforms on them and send them to Iraq! The pay will be more regular for them, the weapons superior, the experience exciting, the training useful for building their own country if they live, and the U.S. can stand tall with no American deaths!
Really have a lot of doubts
Posted by No way on 2009-01-11 04:31:01
There is really no evidence for this. The original source is an article in a British Newspaper: The Independent. The above text here and at the Huffington Post are both cut and paste jobs of that original article.

Right now there is no evidence of nuclear waste dumping.

If we assume that the European countries (which means France and Germany btw, as most of the nuclear reactors in Western Europe are in those two countries) are dumping nuclear waste in the ocean... why they heck would they go to Somalia to dump it? The waters off of Somalia are some of the most trafficked shipping lanes in the world -- go up the Red Sea to the Suez Canal, and the major Saudi Oil ports, as well as lots of ships hailing out of or toward the Suez on their way to and from India, China, and the rest of the Far East.

The Europeans would be better hauling the nuclear waste out to the mostly avoided areas of deep ocean in the Atlantic, which would be easier for them to get to as well.

Right now, this is all BS.
No way can't see....
Posted by madmilker on 2009-01-11 10:49:46
the forest for the trees! It's like everyone in Congress and D. C. using tat word "transparency" they mean well but are lying through their teeth.
Posted by barney on 2009-01-14 16:57:55
RE: "Right now, this is all BS."

I'd simply say it's unproved but BS?
It's cool if...
Posted by Yes, BS. on 2009-01-16 23:43:42
you have an overwhelming desire to believe information that has no founding and is fairly nonsensical in order to feel better about yourself for how righteously indignant you are.
Skepticism, FTW.
Reply to No Way
Posted by Woden on 2009-02-06 22:54:56
While it is true there isn't much out there by way of evidence (on the internet, that is!), there are some interesting leads.

The second one is from last year and provides some pretty good first-hand evidence.
Reply to No Way
Posted by R on 2009-03-17 01:03:06
Here is a 2005 report from the UN Environmental Program:

It states:
Further, Somalia is one of the many Least Developed Countries that reportedly received countless shipments of illegal nuclear and toxic waste dumped along the coastline. Starting from the early 1980s and continuing into the civil war, the hazardous waste dumped along Somalia’s coast comprised uranium radioactive waste, lead, cadmium, mercury, industrial, hospital, chemical, leather treatment and other toxic waste. Most of the waste was simply dumped on the beaches in containers and disposable leaking barrels which ranged from small to big tanks without regard to the health of the local population and any environmentally devastating impacts.
interested citizen
Posted by John Shipley on 2009-04-12 17:22:16
It would be nice to have some documentation....
which should be available through un sources...
how 'bout we start asking some serious questions?
There is proof.
Posted by Pile on 2009-04-15 20:34:04
Do a search on Google, use and somolia toxic waste and you'll get a bunch of documents showing they commissioned a study in 1995 that was published in 1997 that confirmed the overfishing and toxic waste dumping.
Posted by som on 2010-08-18 03:26:37
Somacent Development Research Foundation: A Case study by Bashir M., PhD, June 19, 2010
waste land for nuclear waste
Posted by Opinioner on 2011-11-21 00:19:40
The place for nuclear waste is a place with absolutely no natural resources nor arable land.


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