MINSK, 23 November (BelTA) – An international technical aid project on the sustainable management of persistent organic pollutants and chemical substances GEF-6 is being implemented in Belarus, the press service of the Belarusian Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Ministry told BelTA.
According to the source, the entire world is concerned about persistent organic pollutants because they represent a serious threat to people's health and to the environment. In Belarus a considerable amount of persistent organic pollutants – polychlorinated biphenyls – can be found in old electric equipment, for instance, power transformers and capacitors made in the Soviet Union. Over 500 Belarusian companies and enterprises own equipment that contains polychlorinated biphenyls. The weight of the equipment exceeds 3,000 tonnes. Apart from that, unusable pesticides stored primarily in warehouses of agricultural enterprises or buried in underground storage facilities represent a great threat.
Belarus has been a party to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants since 2004. The document stipulates international requirements for handling persistent organic pollutants. During an introductory seminar for participants of the project Belarusian Deputy Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Minister Aleksandr Korbut stressed that Belarus persistently fulfils the commitments it has undertaken. “First of all, we have to decommission equipment that contains polychlorinated biphenyls by 2025 and ensure its environmentally safe neutralization by 2028. The implementation of the international technical aid project is another step on the way to the goal,” he remarked.
One of the key goals of the project is the environmentally benign liquidation of Belarusian stockpiles of persistent organic pollutants and the development of the potential in the area of their sustainable management. About 700 tonnes of unusable pesticides, which are now stored by agricultural enterprises in Vitebsk Oblast and Grodno Oblast, will be removed in 2021. The contractor will have to repackage them, transport them across the border, and safely recycle this dangerous waste.
The GEF-6 project is being implemented by the Belarusian Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Ministry in association with the UNDP in Belarus. The project is financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
According to GEF, persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are among the most dangerous chemicals that humans release into the environment. They are pesticides, industrial chemicals, or unwanted byproducts of industrial processes. POPs are highly toxic and can cause severe health problems even at low doses. These impacts include cancer, damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems, reproductive disorders, and disruption of the immune system. POPs can travel great distances through the air, water. and migratory animals. They have been found at both poles and accumulate in marine mammals.