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22 April 2021, 16:31

Belarus ships almost 23t of hazardous waste abroad for disposal

Photo courtesy of the initiative
Photo courtesy of the initiative

MINSK, 22 April (BelTA) – Belarus has shipped almost 23 tonnes of hazardous waste abroad for disposal, Aleksandra Bayeva, the head of the environmental initiative “Creating a mechanism of environmentally safe disposal of hazardous waste containing persistent organic pollutants”, told a news conference on 22 April, BelTA has learned.

By joining the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, Belarus has committed to neutralizing all waste containing polychlorinated biphenyls by 2028. The environmental initiative “Creating a mechanism of environmentally safe disposal of hazardous waste containing persistent organic pollutants (POPs)” is another step towards this goal. It is running within the framework of the project “Civic engagement in environmental monitoring and improving environmental management at the local level” financed by the European Union and implemented by the United Nations Development Program in association with the Belarusian Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Ministry. The initiative is implemented by the Ecology without Borders organization.

“Within the framework of the initiative, Belarus has shipped abroad 22.9 tonnes of hazardous waste containing persistent organic pollutants. It includes old decommissioned power capacitors that were stored at Belarusian enterprises from the Soviet times. This waste was disposed of at a special facility in an environmentally safe way. This enabled Belarus to close five more facilities for temporary storage of hazardous waste that were located at the premises of enterprises that owned that waste in Gomel Oblast and Grodno Oblast. These enterprises include: Rechitsadrev, Belorusneft-Promservice, Gomel Rail Carriage Plant, Belcard, and Novogrudok Gas Equipment Plant,” Aleksandra Bayeva said.

According to her, the main goal of the initiative is to improve the environment and prevent negative impacts on human health and the environment in the project districts by creating a sustainable mechanism for collecting and disposing of POPs containing waste.

In general, extensive work has been carried out as part of the initiative. First of all, that was the work on packaging, collection and transportation of POPs-containing waste from enterprises to the place of their disposal.

Old damaged capacitors, which were stored in factories, were packed in special containers to prevent further leakage of dangerous chemicals and avoid pollution. The waste was then sent to a specialized facility in France for environmentally friendly destruction. It took quite a long time to prepare and obtain various permits and certificates. After all, it is necessary to obtain permissions both of the country of export and also the country of import of waste and all transit countries in order to export hazardous waste abroad.

Raising awareness of safe handling of hazardous waste among locals, especially children and young people, was one of the important elements of the initiative. A thematic booklet was published and a video made to show all the stages of preparation and disposal of POPs-containing waste.

Hazardous waste related to persistent organic pollutants is a serious threat to human health and the environment. POPs are chemicals characterized by high toxicity that tend to accumulate in environmental objects and living organisms. Even in extremely small concentrations, POPs have a negative impact on human health and the environment.

Today, in Belarus there are 509 organizations-owners of PCBs containing equipment (capacitors and transformers containing polychlorinated biphenyls), the total weight of which is about 3,000 tonnes.

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