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“Doing NOTHING costs much more and is very expensive", Message from 12th HCH & Pesticide Forum, Kiev, Ukraine

National action plans on Obsolete Pesticide stockpiles and other polluted locations are needed

25.11.2013 |WECF

Between the 6th and 8th of November, the twelfth HCH & Pesticide Forum took place in Kiev, Ukraine, The forum brought together more than 100 international participants from Ministries, Universities, Institutions, NGO´s and companies, all dealing with the management, monitoring and prevention of Obsolete and Persistent Organic Pollutant (POP) Pesticides and other environmentally hazardous forms of waste.

In the session "More Food - Less Risks", organised by the FAO, WECF presented the results of the project "Reducing the risks of hazardous pesticides in Georgia".
Pesticides become obsolete (OP) when they can no longer be used for their intended purpose. In 2008, it was estimated that there were approximately 300 000 tons of OPs, at thousands of locations in the Pan-European region. In Ukraine, an estimated amount of 40,000 tonnes of OPs at 4000 different locations was identified.

On average, a dumpsite or polluted area can be found in every 20 square kilometres in Moldova. Thousands more tonnes of OPs are located in Africa and other regions.
Still more thousands of locations in Europe and EECCA are polluted with POPs caused by waste mismanagement following pesticide production.
For example, in Switzerland there are some 30 000, and in Germany some 300 000, polluted sites.

At the Forum some good examples of countries which were tackling the problem of OPs seriously were mentioned, including Moldova, Belarus and Ukraine. In cooperation with international consortium, several pesticide dump places were removed and transported for incineration to Europe.

Why are these Obsolete Pesticide stockpiles and other polluted areas such time bombs for health and the environment?
Hazardous substances such as DDT, HCH - Lindane and many other chlor-organic substances are spread in the environment by rainfall, erosion, wind and leakages into the ground and groundwater. Local people are unaware of this danger and even sell the hazardous substances, or use them in their own gardens.

At the opening of the Forum, Dan Jorgenson, Member of the European Commission stated that some progress has, however, been made. More commitment by politicians is needed. The EU provides money, but more political pressure is required.

In many countries even the first steps of monitoring OP and polluted locations have not been made. Ongoing environmental pollution is an economic issue. Contamination of food and water can cause excessive Maximal Residue Levels. For example the Nitrofen case in Germany cost millions of euros.

  • Countries should establish their own strategy
  • More awareness among politicians and population is needed
  • Clear national action plans should be established

Director of the IPEN John Vijgen stressed the risk of "damages and losses" due to the neglecting of hazardous pesticides and HCH waste in the environment.
The economic cost of doing nothing - polluting  the environment and affecting health, the ecosystem and the trade of consumer goods - is very high!
As was stated, "cleaning up the dumping and polluted location is expensive, but doing NOTHING costs much more and is very expensive." John Vijgen called upon governments to ensure a national action plan for OP stockpiles and other polluted areas.

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