A British company convicted of bribing foreign officials is continuing to sell poisonous lead fuel additive to unstable countries, it was reported today.January 14, 2013 Article from Telegraph
Innospec Ltd, which claims to be the world’s only producer of tetraethyl lead (TEL), is selling the chemical abroad despite evidence it is responsible for long-term damage to human health and may be linked to violent crime.
Critics today called on the Government to ban Innospec Ltd, from further exports of the substance following the disclosures in the Independent.
The product is banned from use on Britain’s roads but remains legal in six impoverished nations, it was claimed.
Innospec, which is American owned but maintains much of its manufacturing in Britain, had intended to stop production and sales of TEL at the end of last year.
But it has now set a new deadline of the end of this year to halt all dealings in the chemical, from which it has generated large profits, the newspaper claimed.
It reportedly recently told shareholders it would seek to “maximise the cash flow” from its declining sales of TEL.
It is doing nothing illegal by producing and selling TEL and complies with all regulations including the notification of exports to the Health and Safety Executive, the newspaper reported.
The US magazine Mother Jones has highlighted studies, which show an apparent link between the rise in leaded petrol use until the 1970s and a spike in violence.
A 20-year gap reflected the time for children damaged by the metal – including negative effects on the nervous system and IQ – to reach adulthood.
The risks associated with leaded petrol have resulted in its phased removal from rich countries since the mid-1970s.
Britain was one of the last to ban the fuel, with widespread sales of four-star finally stopping in 1999.
The United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) has conducted a 10-year campaign to eliminate leaded fuel from developing and second tier countries.
According to the UN body, TEL-boosted petrol is now only used in Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Burma, Yemen and North Korea.
Dr Doug Parr, chief scientist for Greenpeace, said: “There’s a reason leaded petrol and paints are banned in the UK. Whether or not the apparent link with crime is proven, this is still a highly toxic element that does great damage to human health.
“It’s bizarre that a UK company isn’t allowed to sell it to British people but is left free to flog it to citizens of poorer countries.”
Innospec, which legal documents suggested made millions of pounds in profits, from TEL manufactured from its plant in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire.
Today, the company confirmed that it continues to sell the chemical and provide supplies used in Yemen, Algeria and Iraq.
In a statement, the company said: “Innospec is still producing and selling TEL to a very limited number of countries for use in motor gasoline…
“The timing of the exit from the business is designed around the conversion of these countries to unleaded gasoline.
“We have openly indicated that we expected these conversions to take place over the past few years but it seems that in some cases the introduction of unleaded fuel in these countries has been delayed.”
The Independent asked the company if it had a response to peer-reviewed research carried out on behalf of the Unep on the global economic and health benefits of the removal of leaded fuel.
It found it had avoided 1.2 million premature deaths per year and resulted in 58 million fewer crimes. In a written response, the company said: “We have no comment to make.”
Two years ago, the company pleaded guilty in the US and British courts to paying massive kickbacks to Iraqi and Indonesian officials to secure lucrative contracts supplying TEL between 2000 and 2008.
Officials were not immediately available for comment today in response to the newspaper’s claims.