Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Germany to take back obsolete pesticides

The government and German aid agency GTZ will sign an agreement on Friday for safe repatriation of 74.23 tons of obsolete pesticides that have been stored in over two dozen stores across the country for the last 25 years to Germany. The Ministry of Environment (MoE) and GTZ representatives have agreed to ink the Implementing Agreement after four months of negotiations for the disposal of the pesticides which were imported from Germany for agriculture proposes. The German government has agreed to accept the pesticides in December, 2009, amid rising pressure from several quarters for safe repatriation of hazardous chemicals that have posed a serious threat to public health.

The MoE and the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MoAC) would extend support for accumulation of 74.23 tons of Pesticides Organic Pollutants (POPs) -- Aldrin and Endrin -- as well as 43 cylinders of Methyle Bromide from different stores at Amlekhgunj and GTZ would provide financial support to consign them to Germany.

"Under the agreement, pesticides will be assessed, consolidated at a single store, repackaged and labeled in UN-approved containers before transporting to Germany,” a senior official at MoAC said. The source also said MoAC would provide funds for transporting the pesticides to Amlekhgunj where as MoE would undertake administrative process for clearing tax in import of necessary equipments and materials to be used in for packaging the pesticides. Experts said the cost for complete disposal of a ton of pesticides would hover around US$ 5,000. The pesticides have been stockpiled at 25 different places including Amalekhgunj, Nepalgunj, Gulariya, Surkhet, Khumaltar, Lumle, Pokhara, Biratnagar, Hetauda, Birgunj, Janakpur, Pakhribas and Gaighat.

Most of the pesticides have been kept at government offices located in the vicinity of human settlements there and are posing threats to human health and environment. "We will initiate the process for the disposal and we hope the process will be completed within four to six months,” a source at the MoE said.

The pesticides have to be disposed under temperatures of 1,200-1,500 degrees Celsius at an incinerator plant equipped with Air Pollution Control Devices (APCD) -- a facility not available in Nepal. Nepal has signed the Stockholm Convention and the Rotterdam Convention, which ban the use of certain chemicals and provide for the disposal of these chemicals by producer companies in the source countries. However, most of the companies that supplied the chemicals to Nepal have already closed down.

The POPs Enabling Project has been working to ensure proper management of the chemical stockpile with the assistance of the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). Responding to a Supreme Court order about six months ago, the government expressed its commitment to completing the entire process of disposal within a year.

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