Current and planned measures aimed at liquidation of persistent organic pollutants and fulfillment of obligations under Stockholm Convention

From the standpoint of Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants the following objectives are of particular importance to Kyrgyzstan:

a) Unintended production (Article 5, Section C)

Unintended production clause provides for measures aimed at decreasing cumulative emissions from anthropogenous sources. This Section fosters replacement of outdated technologies by new less ecologically dangerous ones in countries, which signed the Convention.

b) Stocks and wastes (Article 6)

Article 6 provides for implementation of national level projects aimed at identification of products containing persistent organic pollutants. A country assuming obligations under the convention shall undertake measures to ensure ecologically safe collection, transportation, conservation, sanitation and, if necessary, liquidation of wastes containing persistent organic pollutants; as well as regulation of POP containing products circulation, identification and regeneration of areas polluted by persistent organic pollutants.

Currently development of the national plan on persistent organic pollutants is a top priority for Kyrgyzstan. Appropriate projects can be implemented subject to availability of sufficient financial resources. Considering the lack of internal financing implementation of projects will depend on international support, which, in its turn, is subject to Kyrgyzstan signing the Convention.

Consequently, issues related to joining the Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants profoundly impact economic, social, political and ecological spheres and can be viewed as steps on the way of Kyrgyzstan’s integration into the worldwide process of practical cooperation in environmental and public health protection spheres.

POPs-related documents adopted in Kyrgyzstan

  • Decree of the Government of Kyrgyzstan N279 “On national registry of potentially toxic chemical substances” adopted on July 13, 1995
  • Law of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan N12 “On application of chemicals and plants protection” adopted on January 25, 1999
  • Decree of the Government of Kyrgyzstan N513 “On adoption of the Instruction regulating acquisition, sales, storage, registration and transportation of highly toxic poisonous substances in the Republic of Kyrgyzstan” adopted on September 21, 1999
  • Decree of the Government of Kyrgyzstan N376 “On measures aimed at protection of the environment and public health from adverse impacts of certain dangerous chemical substances and pesticides” adopted on July 27, 2001.

The Republic of Kyrgyzstan is a party to the following international agreements aimed at ensuring safety from chemical pollution:

  • Basle Convention on control over cross border transportation and liquidation of dangerous wastes (ratified in 1995)
  • Rotterdam Convention on the procedure of preliminary justified consent regarding certain dangerous chemical substances and pesticides in international trade (ratified in 1999)
  • UN EEC Convention on cross border long-distance air pollution (joined in 2000)
  • Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants (signed in 2002).

However, Kyrgyzstan did not sign the Protocol on persistent organic pollutants of UN EEC Convention on cross border long-distance air pollution.

Pesticides – persistent organic pollutants in Kyrgyzstan’s agriculture

Multi-sector agricultural complex plays a fundamental role in the economy of Kyrgyzstan. More than 60% of the country’s workforce are employed in agriculture producing about 50% of Kyrgyzstan’s GDP and 40% of national income. Crops account for more than 40% of the total value produced by all agricultural sub-sectors. The country’s total agricultural lands stretch for more than 10.1 million hectares with 8.7 million hectares of pastures (86% of all agricultural lands) and 1.3 million hectares of crop lands, 0.8 million of which are irrigated.

More than 70% of all crop lands are burdened by medium and high density of waste plants and lack of herbicides can cause crop yields to drop more than 50%. To contain adverse impacts on 15 key crops Kyrgyzstan applied more than 100 different types of pesticides.

From 1946 to approximately 1962 the widespread notion was that chemicals could resolve all of the issues related to adverse impacts caused by insects, diseases and waste plants. However, optimism had to be curtailed after it became apparent that pesticides were accumulating in the environment negatively affecting human beings and surrounding environments. Nevertheless, in late 1980s in Kyrgyzstan annually more than 5 thousand tones of pesticides were applied to 1 million hectares of crop lands (cotton, vegetables, tobacco, gardens, wine yards) with coverage levels estimated at 10 kilograms per hectare and pesticide burden exceeding 5 kilograms per hectare.

Anti-insects coverage primarily included chlorine-based and phosphate-based substances. In 1980 more than 50% of anti-insects substances contained GCCG, however in 1983 GCCG presence decreased and was registered only in 25% of all anti-insects substances. Later Ministry of health care of the USSR banned GCCG application.

Within 20 years (1950-1970) the USSR used more than 4.5 million tones of DDT. Reduction of pesticides supply led to gradual decrease in the amount of crop lands to which these substances were applied.

Predicted growth of our planet’s population requiring corresponding expansion of agricultural commodities production served as a reason for constant intensification of pesticides application in our country. However, when a range of studies indicated that some insects were resistant to pesticides while chemicals adversely impacted surrounding environment decisions were made to discontinue production and application of certain pesticides.

This led to development of a new problem – prohibited pesticides were not destroyed because of the lack of funding and technical capabilities. Moreover, centralized planning system provided for additional shipments of chemicals leading to extensive accumulation of outdated pesticides.

Attempts were made to resolve the problem by constructing long-term storage facilities – so called, burials. For example, in 1973 more than 1,313 tones of prohibited and unusable pesticides were buried in trenches and concrete bunkers. In 1980 pesticides burial levels reached 375 tones.

In the overall range of pesticides-related issues (application, transportation etc.) storage of pesticides must be among key priorities since this factor directly impacts environmental safety and effectiveness of pesticides.

Chemicals storage facilities have to meet hygiene and environmental protection requirements, however, this issue was not addressed 20 or 30 years ago and is not addressed now. In the Republic 72% of storage facilities (designed to house 35% of pesticides) are adequately equipped but many of them do not meet sanitary and hygiene requirements. In high elevation regions (Naryn, Issyk-Kul and Talas) where water streams are generated 90-100% of storage facilities have adequate storage equipment. However, typical storage facilities often fail to ensure proper storage procedures, prevent pesticides packaging deterioration and leakage. Major pesticides storage challenges have been identified at large farms and joint-stock companies. For example, chemical substances storage audit conducted by regional and local plants protection stations in cooperation with National special toxicological control laboratory revealed numerous facts of poisonous pesticides packaging deterioration, leakage and mixing.

State department of chemical plants protection of Kyrgyzstan’s Ministry of agriculture, water resources and processing industries presented current data suggesting that as of early 2000 individual farms and branches of the former “Kyrgyzagriculturalchemistry” conglomerate stored more than 700 tones of pesticides with only 1.5 tones classified as prohibited pesticides. However, the same Department indicated that as early as 1989 Kyrgyzstani entities stored 47.9 tones of prohibited pesticides. This amount increased to 170.8 tones by 1994.

Until 1975 a major proportion of chemicals shipped to Kyrgyzstan consisted of highly toxic substances. Pesticides buried prior to this period also fall into the highly toxic category.

Pesticides burial and development of long-term storage facilities do not fully resolve environmental protection issues because new lots of pesticides are continuously shipped and improperly stored on the territory of the Republic. Improper inventory management, ineffective sales and distribution systems further support accumulation of pesticides stockpiles. Significant amounts of pesticides become outdated and unusable before reaching the fields.

In May 2001 at a conference in Sweden adoption of the Stockholm Convention laid the legal framework for addressing the whole range of issues related to persistent organic pollutants (Kyrgyzstan signed the Convention on May 16, 2002).

Destruction of unusable and prohibited pesticides represents one of priority issues for Kyrgyzstan. Unfortunately, the overall situation is not favorable and general public has no information about the extent of the problems.

Government agencies did not monitor unusable and leftover pesticides after 1989 and 1994 inspections and leftover pesticides stockpiles are not included in early 2000 data. This of course does not mean that all chemicals were sold to end-users and applied in the agricultural sector. After the break-up of collective farms system and reorganization of “Selkhozchemistry” (Agricultural chemistry) services profound lack of monitoring and control has led to development of incomplete reports accounting only for pesticides which will be sold to end-users. Plants protection service inspectors can potentially develop an inventory of chemicals stored at former “Selkhozchemistry” bases and can impose a ban on further application of such chemicals. However, farmers continue to use leftover pesticides from small storage facilities as well as unaccounted for outdated pesticides. Difficult economic conditions will most likely support such practices.

Positive factors supporting resolution of POPs-related issues include adoption of the Law on application of chemicals and plants protection in December of 1998. Article 14 of the Law provides for prevention of pesticides sales and mandatory conservation in cases when safety of chemicals can not be guaranteed in thr process of storage, transportation or application.

Article 19 of the Law stipulates that “detoxification, recycling, destruction and conservation of unusable or prohibited pesticides and agricultural chemicals, as well pesticides packaging, has to be ensured by individuals and legal entities in accordance with legislative acts of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan”. Producers of pesticides develop conservation methods in cooperation with specialized chemicals application and plants protection entities with involvement of local executive branch representatives responsible for environmental protection and representatives of the state sanitary and epidemiological supervisory bodies.

Issues related to detoxification of pesticides at producers’ facilities were not addressed since all pesticides applied in Kyrgyzstan were imported from other Republics of the former Soviet Union. Export of outdated pesticides for recycling purposes is not reviewed as an option because of certain disintegration processes taking place as well as a result of the lack of adequate legal framework and interstate cooperation. Consequently, Kyrgyzstan has to bear the full burden of pesticides recycling issues. Above mentioned Laws provide legal framework for State department of chemical plants protection and its local oversight units to monitor chemical substances circulation (exports and imports). However, the Department did not conduct any pesticides conservation or destruction procedures after 1980 (many of the pesticides are classified as persistent organic pollutants).

Data presented by Kyrgyzstan’s State Hydro Meteorology Agency indicates that systematically residual quantities of DDT group chemicals are detected in such rivers as Chu, Naryn, Kara-Darya, Yassy etc. In southern part of the Republic mountain and valley gray soils covered with cultivated crops concentration of GCCG isomers reaches 0.01-0.06 milligram per kilogram of soil; DDT isomers concentration – 0.10-0.17 milligram per kilogram of soil.

By V.A. Pak
Chief, State department of chemical plants protection,
Ministry of agriculture, water resources and processing industries, Republic of Kyrgyzstan

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