1 Apr 2008

Harmful pesticides cleaned up in Republic of Moldova

A hazardous chemical sample is taken from a dump site in Republic of Moldova.

The process of repackaging and safe storage of 3,245 tonnes of obsolete pesticides and other dangerous chemicals, which had posed a serious environmental hazard in Moldova, was completed in April 2008 through a project funded by NATO and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

This project is a collaborative effort by the NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme, the NATO Partnership for Peace Trust Fund, the NATO Management and Supply Agency (NAMSA) and the OSCE. Entitled “Disposal of pesticides and dangerous chemicals in Moldova”, it addresses the threat of the hazardous chemicals which had been scattered throughout 33 districts in Moldova, either in storage or buried in the ground. These stockpiles and dumps, especially those containing persistent organic pollutants (POPs), were believed to pose high health and environmental risks.

Besides repackaging and safe storage, the project also aims at systematic characterization and analysis of the chemical stockpiles.  A NATO-funded laboratory was established for this purpose, and local personnel were trained in standard sampling, analysis and data management techniques. By the end of July 2008 , more than 3,980 samples from 32 districts had been analyzed.

The laboratory was also equipped with sophisticated equipment test agricultural products for contamination, in order to enhance food security in the country. In October 2007, Russia and Belarus recommenced importation of Moldovan wine. Today, more than 320 samples of wine from 17 companies were certified by the lab to be pesticide-free.

In parallel with the project, around 1,276 tonnes of the chemicals were incinerated by the French company TREDI, with the support of the World Bank and the Global Environment Facility (GEF).  In order to make the incineration process safer and more efficient, TREDI used a database of the chemicals’ composition and toxicological evaluation, created by the NATO-funded laboratory, to determine disposal methods, temperature, flow rate of petrol, pressure, filters, and other factors.