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Feb 9, 2017

How to Get Rid of Hazardous Material

The Department of Environment is executing the project called Belize Chemicals and Waste Management (BCWM) Project. One of goals of this project is the management and disposal of existing stockpiles of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), obsolete pesticides and other chemicals. So, in order to do this the DOE is holding a two day session with a visiting expert to educate and train local enforcers and frontline personnel in the field. The first part of the two sessions kicked off with a theory component and on Friday it continues with a practical session. News Five’s Andrea Polanco was at today’s theory workshop. She tells us how and why this training is important for local enforcers of chemical and hazardous waste.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

The Department of Environment is implementing a disposal consultancy to dispose of all stock piles of persistent organic pollutants (POPs), obsolete pesticides and other chemicals. These pollutants were identified in a consultancy done last March, so a consultant is in country to help local bodies with the trans boundary movement of hazardous waste, packaging, safe handling and transportation of hazardous chemicals. Enforcement officers, importers and end users are participating in today’s session.

 

Jorge Franco

Jorge Franco, Head, Project Execution Unit, DOE

“Now that this expertise is in country and noting that we have limited experience in the handling of these hazardous substances. We took the opportunity have the consultant do a training of enforcement officers; key front line officers who deal with chemicals on a daily basis; to provide them just capacity building, training, show them the proper use of equipment so that in the future we can conduct these activities in house.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Following this training, how do you monitor and make surethat the things you are learning here they are being implemented and we are following global standards?”

 

Jorge Franco

“That is one of the reasons we targeted enforcement officers. These are the frontline people, who will make sure that one, we prevent the stockpile of these chemicals again. We are in the process of enacting new legislation that will assist us in that. Two, the front line officers know of the activities, they know of the issues, they know of the environmental and health hazards and they themselves will implement from their department portfolio, their legal obligations to assist the department in avoiding future stockpiles. And we know that through this training they have the basic understanding of how to handle these, properly store these, so that we can then move forward to a sound disposal of these.”

 

Participants from Ministry of Health, Customs, Fire Department, Police and private sector entities learnt about use of safety gears and proper packaging.

 

George Chrysanthopoulos

George Chrysanthopoulos, Chemical Engineer, Polyeco Group

“Hazardous waste management is something that will build upon the years. Polyeco is here to bring the technology and the know how to handle this kind of material because in the past we have been cooperating with mostly licensed facilities in Europe. All this waste is going to be shipped to France for incineration under the UN Regulations.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Okay. So, now talk to us about the technology, some of the different materials and gears you are showing them to use?”

 

George Chrysanthopoulos

“Yes. This training is about personal protective equipment; let’s say covers, masks, boots and of course packaging equipment which we are talking about UN approved containers that are capable of holding hazardous waste.”

 

When first identified, there were twelve persistent organic pollutants primarily pesticides, some from the industrial sector and two labeled as unintentionals – dioxins and furans – created from the burning of landfills. Today the POPs are up to as many as twenty-six and include several other industrial substances and if not properly disposed these remain in the environment because they take a long time to break down, as well as impact quality of human life.

 

Jorge Franco

“To ensure that we have proper disposal of these, which in the region we do not have at this time, we go through a process where the substances are repackaged through an application process based on the Basel Convention on trans boundary movement, we do all the necessary documentation with the respective transit countries and the final countries of receipt for final disposal to make sure that these substances are destroyed in an environmentally sound manner. We had the DDTs, these are for vector control in malaria; we had a stock pile in Belmopan Hospital and we had these for quite a while in 2010. We had these repackaged and now they are going for disposal. We had some polychlorinated biphenyls; again a group of persistent organic pollutants and these were repackaged and to make sure they are disposed of in an environmentally sound manner.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“What are some of the environmental impacts that we may see if these things are not properly taken care of and controlled?”

 

Jorge Franco

“Okay. What we would see – some of the environmental impacts you would see is barrenness in soils if they do touch soils and contaminate soils. But the unforeseen things are which concern us more. If you use DDTs, studies have shown that these accumulate in the human bodies. Studies have shown that women today, even though DDTs the use of it has been reduced significantly over the past years, you would still find that testing breast milk women have levels of DDTs in them. So, this is what makes it persistent and long standing. Other unforeseen things that you see is that these substances would travel and contaminate water resources and these resources are what we as humans and wildlife depend on for living and we would then consume those having a negative health impact on us.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

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