Focus areas

Hazardous waste

Overview

Industrial activities and generation of waste unavoidably threaten the environment. When such activities are located in or near border areas, their impact becomes a concern for neighboring states The former Soviet Union countries have accumulated stocks of obsolete toxic pesticides, industrial or other forms of hazardous waste in border areas or in vital parts of the countries. Still visible are the disastrous effects of the Chernobyl accident and the consequences of the nuclear activities in the Semipalatinsk Test Site. Organic pollutants are often buried in storage facilities while illegal imports of toxic waste from the EU has also become an issue.

The ENVSEC region is rich in natural resources that have been industrially exploited and processed for decades, sometimes leading to considerable environmental pollution through improper mining and industrial waste disposal. In many countries the mining sector is an important contributor to local and national economies. However, in parts of the region, it is often characterized by inappropriate planning, and operational and post-operational practices taking place within inadequate regulatory frameworks. Poor or negligible implementation of mine rehabilitation and closure activities continues to cause adverse environmental and health and safety impacts.

For example, the uranium industry in Central Asia has poorly maintained radioactive waste storage sites. The risk to human health is increased by the high vulnerability to seismic activity sometimes originating in zones that provide most of the region's water supply. Radioactive waste can thus cross borders, increasing risk of tension between states.

Objective

To reduce cross-border risks from hazardous substances, pollution and waste.

Areas of assistance

ENVSEC supports activities ranging from assessments to capacity-building to prevent and minimize the risk from past, present and future activities that produce hazardous waste. ENVSEC also supports the development of preparedness and emergency response capacities for government officials and community groups in dealing with orphaned mining sites and defunct industrial complexes. ENVSEC conducts in-depth assessment of waste management problems and provides recommendations for improving waste management systems.