Updated: 13-Jul-2005 NATO Update

6-7 July 2005

Safe disposal of rocket fuel

Melanj, a rocket fuel oxidiser used in the past by Warsaw Pact countries, is a highly complex mixture of chemical substances which evaporates easily and is highly toxic. In many countries, this liquid propellant is still stored in special containers, where it was placed for immediate filling of missiles. These containers have deteriorated with time and now present a danger for the environment and public health.

NATO and OSCE pool resources

In order to address this environmental threat and pool competencies and experience, NATO and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) held a joint workshop from 6 to 8 July in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Both organisations have developed considerable experience in destroying this chemical substance safely. The workshop was therefore an opportunity for NATO and the OSCE to lay the basis for the creation of a framework for cooperation in implementing these projects. And more importantly, it aimed to offer joint assistance for melanj disposal projects to countries that may request it.

Assisting partner countries

So far, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan have alreay requested assistance from these two organisations. For instance, in Georgia in 2002, the OSCE helped to transform approximately 450 tons into fertiliser and is conducting a similar project in Armenia for the destruction of 882 tons.

NATO has assisted in the destruction of 350 tons of melanj in Moldova through incineration. It is currently developing a project for the construction of a mobile melanj treatment plant that would have the capacity to treat five tons in 24 hours. It is also developing a survey of industrial melanj conversion capabilities with related cost estimates.

Looking ahead

In the perspective of multiplying these projects in different countries, the workshop examined ways of identifying the best methodology and technical options to dispose of this substance in the most secure, cost efficient and environmentally friendly way. It also looked into outlining legal and managerial aspects of implementing these types of projects.