230 tons of persistent organic pollutants (POP) were repacked and prepared for transportation to France on May 7. The dangerous pollutants create a mortal threat to the environment and people in the long-term. The initiative resulted from the joint efforts of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Environmental Facility (GEF). Head of UNDP in Georgia, Niels Scott; Minister of Environment Protection Khatuna Gogaladze, local representatives and the media attended the meeting at the Iagluja dump, where the poison is prepared for transportation.
Pesticides to be transported from Georgia
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, May 8
POPs represent one of the major environmental problems in Georgia. Throughout the 20th century, these harmful substances were used in many sectors of industry. In agriculture, pesticides containing POPs were employed to increase crop yields. Albeit yielding a short-term production boom, the highly toxic and long-lasting substances easily evaporated into the environment, posing a significant threat to wildlife and human health. The substances are believed to be among the most potent cancer-causing agents. They are also linked with abnormal reproductive, developmental, behavioral, neurologic, endocrine, and immunologic health effects.
One of the key dangers is that POPs are resistant to degradation. They remain in the living tissues of animals and people, and can be transferred through generations. The usage of POPs was banned in Georgia in 1975, though the last authorized uses were finally phased-out in 1980. However, the old dump sites inherited from the 1970’s and 80’s, still exist in several regions of the country. Poorly managed throughout the decades, the pollutants leak from the stockpiles into the soil and water, and affect the environment and people.
The Iagluja site has been completely cleaned of the pesticides. However, the problem is not solved yet, as 60,000 tons of soil needs to be remediated. 150 tons of the pesticides are still in two regions of Georgia – in Sachkhere and in Kakheti. Nevertheless, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) will ensure taking the pesticides out of the country in 2015.
Niels Scott told The Messenger that alongside with exporting the most poisonous part of the threat from the country, the project informed the public and the locals about the danger. He stressed that the problem “has no boundaries”, and equally concerns all of us.
Minister Gogaladze told The Messenger that the ministry and its partners would actively work on the remediation of the soil. According to her, remediation is possible by using various methods, with different bio substances, planting and so on.
Project Manager Lali Tevzadze told The Messenger that the most expensive aspect of the project is exportation. “The exportation of the 230 tons costs nearly $530,000,” Tevzadze stated, noting that the remediation activities would not be as expensive as the transportation. “We have done a detailed lab analysis of the site. Based on the study, we will create an action plan. Some sections of the soil might be less affected, some more,” Tevzadze said.
George Nikolaidis, an engineer who works for the Greek company Polyeco, which carried out excavation activities and will ensure transportation, states that the excavation and packaging took nearly one month. He informed that the pesticides will be transported by a road vehicle to Poti and then on a ship to France, where they will be destroyed. Nikoladis also stated that the company trained locals for excavation and packaging activities. “It was one of the benefits of the project, as the country will have qualified local staff that will be able to undertake such activities in Georgia in the future.
The patricides will leave the country at the end of May.