5 September 2019
Having acceded to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, the Republic of Belarus undertook the obligation to completely neutralize wastes containing PCBs by 2028. The next step towards this goal is the implementation of the environmental initiative “Establishment of a mechanism for the environmentally sound disposal of hazardous waste containing persistent organic pollutants (POPs)”, which is being implemented as part of the project “Involving the public in environmental monitoring and improving environmental management at the local level” (“EcoMonitoring”), funded by the European Union and implemented by the United Nations Development Program in Belarus in partnership with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Reds of the Republic of Belarus. The initiative is being implemented by the Environmental Protection Institution Ecology Without Borders.
During the implementation of the initiative, by June 2020, 22.5 tons of hazardous waste containing persistent organic pollutants will be removed from the Republic of Belarus and rendered harmless in an environmentally friendly way. Five temporary storage facilities for hazardous waste located on the territory of organizations that own these waste in the Gomel and Grodno regions will be liquidated: Rechitsadrev OJSC, Belarusneft-Promservice RDUP, Gomel Carriage Works CJSC, Belkard OJSC, Novogrudsky OJSC gas equipment factory.
One of the main objectives of the initiative is to organize a logistic scheme for packaging, collecting and transporting POP-containing waste from enterprises to the place of their disposal.
POP-containing equipment, usually old damaged capacitors and batteries that have been stored at enterprises since Soviet times, will be packed in special containers to prevent further leakage of hazardous chemicals and avoid environmental pollution. The next stage is safe transportation to a specialized enterprise located outside the Republic of Belarus for environmentally friendly destruction.
In addition, for the first time in Belarus, a centralized site for the temporary storage of such wastes will be created to ensure efficient logistics for the disposal of POP-containing wastes on the basis of the State Unitary Enterprise Complex for Processing and Disposal of Toxic Industrial Waste in the Gomel Region. This will minimize the risk of storage and loading of waste prepared for disposal, as well as reduce the costs associated with transporting waste to the place of disposal. This innovative approach is planned to be successfully scaled in all regions of the country where there are storage facilities for POP-containing wastes.
Hazardous waste related to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) is a serious threat to humans and the environment. POPs are chemicals that are highly toxic, with a tendency to accumulate in environmental objects and living organisms. Even at extremely low concentrations, POPs adversely affect human health and the environment.
In Belarus, a significant part of POPs (polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) is contained in old electrical equipment (transformers and capacitors) produced in the USSR. Currently, about 4 thousand tons of this PCB-containing equipment are located at more than 700 enterprises in the country, most of which which are located in the regions. The main problems faced by regional enterprises — owners of waste containing POPs:
— the lack of the ability to independently send waste for disposal abroad (in the countries of the former USSR there are no facilities for the destruction of POPs);
— lack of own resources to finance the destruction of POPs
As a result, enterprises are forced to store hazardous waste at home, which poses a huge threat to the employees of the enterprise and the local population — in the event of an emergency POPs, significant areas of the adjacent territory will be affected.
One of the important aspects of the implementation of the initiative is the work to raise awareness of the rules for the safe management of chemical wastes of the local population. Also, children and youth will take an active part in activities to form environmental culture standards in terms of hazardous waste management in the project area. It is planned that the thematic training for schoolchildren will be conducted by teachers of local educational institutions who will participate in the information seminars provided by the project.
More info on the topic:
additional info — by phone + 375-29-6778-638 — media specialist Olga Lelyukova — or by e-mail: email@example.com.