The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Armenia and the Government of the Republic of Armenia will work together to reduce the impacts of hazardous waste and related contaminated sites from Soviet times, in order to protect human and environmental health through the effective elimination of obsolete pesticide stockpiles, particularly persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in Armenia.
Today, Bradley Busetto, UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative in Armenia, and Aramayis Grigoryan, RA Minister of Nature Protection, signed the necessary project documents to launch this highly important initiative related to the safety of the citizens of Armenia and the country’s environment. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) provided a USD 4.7 million grant to initiate the project, while an additional USD 19 million co-funding will be provided by the Government of Armenia, international organizations and the private sector in order to successfully accomplish this project’s goals.
Elimination of POPs and obsolete pesticide stockpiles, and addressing assocaited contaminated sites within a sound chemical management framework, is a requirement of Armenia’s international commitments under the Stockholm Convention.
“With a spirit of partnership and collaboration, among all major actors, including government entities, international organizations and the civil society, we are confident that we can make this important, but difficult project a success. Flexibility and innovation should be the guiding principles for decision making during the project development and implementation,” said Bradley Busetto in his remarks.
Within the framework of the project, a large POPs pesticide burial site in Nubarashen, as well as residual obsolete pesticide stores in 24 locations across the country, will be eliminated. In total, approximately 7,100 tons of POPs waste in the form of heavily contaminated soil and 1,050 tons of POPs pesticides and other obsolete pesticides will be recovered, treated and destroyed in an environmentally friendly fashion. A further 12,700 tons of less severely POPs contaminated soil will be securely contained. The project will provide critically needed hazardous waste infrastructure and better national technical capability for the ongoing management of POPs and other chemical hazardous wastes. The project will also support the strengthening of institutional and regulatory capacities within the overall hazardous chemicals management framework.
As the Minister of Nature Protection Aramayis Grigoryan noted, “despite the fact that the Government of Armenia has regularly funded to ensure the security and conservation works at Nubarashen burial site, it still remains as a hazardous area for the environment and human health. On the one hand, it is located in a landslide area and, on the other, it was built back in 1980s without proper engineering and geological assessments and required technical norms.”
In the Soviet Union, Armenia, with its highly developed agriculture, had one of the highest application rates of pesticides, particularly organochlorine pesticides (OCPs). When the pesticides were banned in 1970-80s, together with expired chemicals they were disposed in landfills or in burial sites, such as the Nubarashen site built in Armenia in 1982. Moreover, around 600 pesticides storehouses/distribution centers existed in Armenia, with 13 regional storages containing POPs.
During the 2-year preparatory phase, UNDP, in partnership with the Ministries of Nature Protection, Agriculture, Territorial Administration and Emergency Situations, and the OSCE Office in Yerevan, carried out a detailed investigation and feasibility study at Nubarashen burial site.
UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in more than 170 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations UNDP in Armenia was established in March 1993, and supports the government in meeting its development priorities and the Millennium Development Goals.