On August 19, 2006, the Probo Koala, a ship registered in Panama and chartered by UK-based oil-trading company Trafigura, unloaded almost 140,000 gallons of toxic waste at the Port of Abidjan in Côte D’Ivoire. The waste was loaded onto trucks and illegally dumped in numerous city spots, some near the home of Naolo Charles’ parents. Within days, tens of thousands of people began reporting skin irritations, headaches and breathing problems.

It was this toxic-waste incident in Abidjan that triggered Charles’ interest in the environment and led him to pursue a graduate degree in the same topic, to better understand the issue.

“When that happened, I wasn’t actually aware of the fact that this was environmental racism,” Charles says via phone to Our Times.

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