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Obsolete Pesticides in Northern Russia: New Report from ACAP

The Russian Federation has an estimated 40,000 tonnes of obsolete pesticides, and the Arctic Council Working Group ACAP has been engaged since 2001 on a project to improve management of those stockpiles. At the recent SAO meeting in Whitehorse, Yukon, ACAP’s final report for inventory and storage improvement phases, and the recommendations associated with the report, were approved.

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The Arctic Contaminants Action Program (ACAP) has released a final report on Environmentally Sound Management of Obsolete Pesticides in the Russian Federation. In this new report ACAP introduces three recommendations for further action.

(1) Regions working with ACAP should maintain interim storage facilities in good condition to ensure that their contents do not pose a threat to human health or the environment until the obsolete pesticides are destroyed in an environmentally sound manner.

(2) Regions working with ACAP should continue to identify and remove any remaining obsolete pesticides stored under poor conditions to better interim storage facilities until they can be disposed of in an environmentally sound manner.

(3) The Russian Federation should establish facilities for the environmentally sound destruction of obsolete pesticides and other hazardous wastes as soon as possible to mitigate risks to the environment and to human health.

The project started in 2001 when ACAP initiated a project to improve management of obsolete pesticide stockpiles in twelve priority regions in Northern Russia. The Russian Federation has large stocks of obsolete pesticides, estimated at 40,000 tonnes, originating mostly from the Soviet era. The major Russian river systems, with the exception of the Volga River, flow to the North, contributing significant amounts of pesticides to the Arctic Basin. In addition, many persistent pesticides can enter the Arctic via atmospheric transport.

In order to prevent further exposure of the local population or the environment, including the Arctic, the stocks of obsolete pesticides should be destroyed or stored in long-term facilities in an environmentally sound manner as soon as possible. ACAP will continue working with Russian authorities and experts to identify solutions and develop destruction capability.

The first two phases of the project—inventory and repackaging, and screening and provision of safe storage—have been completed in the selected regions of the Russian Federation. The report marks a finalization of phase I and II: Inventory and Safe Storage Activities.