Solution of the POPs-related problems is hindered by physical and geographical particularities of Tadjikistan and by combination of meteorological factors, such as low precipitation, weak winds, intensive sun radiation.

Within last three years Tadjikistan has started to develop nation-wide inventory of key POPs sources.

Tursun-Zade aluminum smoldering plant, the largest plant of its kind in the former Soviet Union, represents the key source of persistent organic pollutants. Despite the fact that currently the plant works at 60% of its capacity, industrial wastes of the enterprise contain 200 tones of poisonous substances accumulated as a result of thermal processing of carbon electrodes (green anodes) at 1400-1500 degrees Celsius. Green anodes can be viewed as a potential source of dioxins because of the presence of solution-resistant aromatic nature organic substances.

Currently with a high degree of probability we can suggest that chemical, metallurgical, concrete production facilities serve as major sources of dioxins.

Lack of measures aimed at POPs liquidation during collection, processing and conservation of solid household wastes contributes to deterioration of the overall situation. Preliminary estimates indicate that solid household wastes contain up to 10% of polymer materials, while organic products concentration in solid household wastes reaches 70-80%.

In 2001 development of greenhouse gases emission sources inventory indicated that in Tadjikistan there are 70 household waste collection facilities and 30 sewage sanitation facilities. Currently only 5 of the 70 household waste collection facilities meet adopted state standards, while all other facilities accumulate wastes in bulk without appropriate supervision and often burn accumulated waste masses. Cumulative methane emission from industrial and household sewage and solid wastes in carbon dioxin equivalent amounts to 155.61 kilograms per year. However, there is no data on dioxin emission resulting from burning of accumulated wastes.

Huge masses of solid household wastes are burnt throughout the country, however, general public does not understand harmful consequences of such practices.

The situation is aggravated by the fact that within extensive period of time cotton growing in Tadjikistan was associated with groundless and unsupervised application of various chemical cotton plants protection substances. DDT distribution analysis in soils of different regions suggests that maximum acceptable limits of DDT concentration were exceeded in all cotton-growing regions. Also, there are indications of increased chlorine-based herbicides concentration in soils and agricultural products. Vegetable samples from intensive pesticides application regions contained 0.02 – 0.06 milligram/kilogram of GCCG and 0.01-0.03 milligram/kilogram of DDT.

In Soviet times Tadjikistan served as the USSR’s textile industry raw materials base. Non-diversified agricultural structure geared towards cotton production required huge amounts of chemical plants protection means.

In 1960-1980s agricultural aviation delivered pesticides to the fields with fields coverage ranging from 6 to 12 times.

Large amounts of pesticides, some of which are classified as persistent organic pollutants, accumulated over time on the limited territory of irrigated agriculture constituting less than 7% of the overall territory of our mountainous country. Considering continuous multi-year pesticides application policies currently our country is probably among the world’s most disadvantaged states from the standpoint of POPs-related problems. In late 1980s Tadjikistan was among the world’s leaders in pesticides application per unit of agricultural output.

Based on available data we can estimate that assortment of pesticides included more than 50 different types. Of that amount up to 42% were high and medium toxic pesticides and 17% are persistent in the environment.

Intensity of pesticides application burden fluctuated from 1.29 kilogram/hectare to 22.2 kilogram/hectare depending on the region. In some instances we registered pesticides application levels of more than 50 kilogram/hectare. In Europe average application rates are 1-5 kilogram/hectare.

Preliminary inventory of chlorine-based pesticides indicates that since 1970 until 2002 in Tadjikistan more than 15000 tones of pesticides were applied only to cotton crops. Currently as a result of the lack of funding farmers do not have the means to purchase chemical plants protection substances and imports of such substances have decreased by more than 15 times. Pesticides application ratio per hectare has declined and reached only 0.03 kilogram/hectare in 2000.

However, recently adopted National long-term economic development program provides for rapid expansion of cotton production and increase in cotton output from 450 thousand tones in 2001 to more than 850 thousand tones in 2006, which can only be possible if pesticides and chemicals are applied.

One of the key issues related to outdated types of pesticides is represented by the lack of adequate import controls. Instances of illegal toxic substances shipments indicate that if Tadjikistan does not adopt adequate counter measures, the country will turn into a dumpster for outdated chemical substances.

Tadjikistan’s Environmental Protection Ministry has approached appropriate government agencies with the proposal to introduce stricter controls over toxic substances shipments to Tadjikistan.
Another major issue influencing ecological situation in the country is represented by the need to sanitize and store unusable and prohibited poisonous chemical substances.

Data provided by the national sanitary and epidemiological station indicates that within last several decades outdated technologies and lack of water sanitation capacity had led to constant chlorine overdose in drinking water, which, in its turn, could lead to development of chlorine-based organic substances.

Automobile exhaust gases also serve as sources of dioxins accumulation. Tadjikistan imports low quality petroleum products while outdated vehicles can not fully burn the fuels leading to development of aromatic hydrocarbons.

Currently all over the country harmful automobile exhaust gases constitute up to 73% (81 thousand tones) of all pollutants. Of this amount hydrocarbons constitute more than 13.4 thousand tones.

As a conclusion of the brief POPs-related issues overview we have to stress that extensive further research will be needed to assess dioxins exhaust levels and identify their chemical nature. At the current preliminary stage we feel that our country faces the same levels of dioxins exhausts as developed European countries.

Sharing concerns of the international community related to environmental pollution caused by persistent organic pollutants, on May 20, 2002 Tadjikistan joined the Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants. Currently preliminary POPs-related data collection and analysis program is 20-25% complete. Preliminary inventory development included data provided by Specialized analytical control inspection of Tadjikistan’s Environmental Protection Ministry, Ministry of agriculture, Tadjikselkhozchemicals agency (Tadjikistan’s agricultural chemicals agency). Tadjikistan’s Academy of Sciences.

Detailed pesticides application research projects will be implemented in the regions of the Republic after appropriate financial support is provided by the international organizations. It is, also, important to identify POPs accumulation areas and concentration of persistent organic pollutants in the environment. Tadjikistan is determined to fulfill its obligations related to persistent organic pollutants. However, a single nation can not address POPs pollution prevention issues and problems related to cross border movements of persistent organic pollutants. Such an undertaking requires application of joint efforts by all members of the international community.  

By A Djuraev National Coordinator of POPs plan development
L. Bobritskaya
Chief, Atmospheric pollution norms setting section,
Environmental Protection Ministry of the Republic of Uzbekistan

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