A consultant is currently on Island looking at various outdated chemicals which are being stored at the Agriculture and Natural Resources Department. These chemicals are dangerous and are to be shipped to the UK for disposal when RMS departs on or about 4 July 2003.
Wendy Clingham, Chief Agriculture and Natural Resources Officer said that her department has in store various dangerous agro-chemicals that cannot be disposed of on the Island. The Islands hazardous waste which includes expired drugs, photographic developing chemicals and redundant water treatment chemicals are also stored at A&NRD. She said that some of these agro-chemicals that are obsolete have been kept at A&NRD for over thirty years and the department wanted to dispose of them for some time now.
"The range of agro-chemicals (pesticides) and other wastes as mentioned cannot be disposed of on Island because of toxicity, and potential, contamination to waterways, soil and basically land use constraints. Because of the Island’s remoteness and limited space available for the storage of hazardous waste and disposal facilities, and that a large proportion of the Island is used for agriculture, it would not be wise to contaminate the land further with a cocktail of hazardous material," said Wendy.
The chemicals come from various government departments, the private sector and members of the public and have to be disposed of in compliance with the Basal Convention of the United Nations. Once all chemicals are labelled and documented, the department expects to fill some 20 secured drums which have been supplied by the UN.
The Consultant, Brian Makepeace is an Associated Director from a company called Jacobs Gibb Ltd and is working with, and training personnel at the A&NRD. He has been on the Island before in the same field of work and has returned to work under the DFID Waste Disposal Project on the Hazardous Waste Disposal element. He will be on Island for one week and it is hoped that on departure, staff at the A&NRD will be sufficiently trained to prepare chemicals that will have to be transported abroad in the future.
The consultancy terms of reference is to prepare a long-term management plan.
Commenting on the recommendations Wendy said: "The recommendations are to develop a long term hazardous waste management plan which forms part of the long-term integrated Waste Management Strategy for St Helena. This considers guiding principles for sustainable waste management, quantities and types of hazardous wastes generated, legislative aspects, institutional strengthening, technical requirements and long term options for different types of hazardous wastes. These recommendations are supported by the A&NRD and SHG"
Wendy added that the next step is for the department to look towards having dangerous chemical legislation implemented. This will allow the department to instruct people on how chemicals should be disposed of and this will promote good health and safety practises.
In order to cut down on expired chemicals accumulating on the Island, SHG has also been making smaller orders in recent years. Wendy said that in comparison to other countries, St Helena’s accumulated chemicals is a small amount although it is still an issue which needed addressing.
Public Relations/Information Office
Office of the Chief Secretary
27 March 2003