Round Table “Chemical Conventions in Ukraine: Progress in Solving Problems and Fulfilling International Commitments” Print
Tuesday, 17 May 2016 12:05


The Ukrainian National Environmental Non-Government Organization MAMA-86, in partnership with the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine, conducted the round table "Chemical Conventions in Ukraine: Progress in Solving Problems and Fulfilling International Commitments" as part of the International Environmental Forum "Environment for Ukraine" on April 27, 2016. Participants in the event included leading Ukrainian experts, researchers, representatives from authorities, NGOs and the mass media.

Olga Tsygulyova, MAMA-86 Chemical Safety Program Coordinator, moderated the round table. In her welcome address, Olga Tsygulyova identified essential aspects of efficient implementation of chemical conventions in Ukraine and stressed on the importance of enhancing coordination and sharing information on chemical safety in Ukraine. Besides, she emphasized a need in and importance of setting up a Centre for Synergy of Chemical Conventions and SAICM, a national interagency body, which would coordinate activities whereby Ukraine fulfils tasks set by the chemical conventions and Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM).

Volodymyr Chetverykov, a lead research fellow of the Gas Institute, the National Academy of Science, told about the synergy of implementing international technical assistance projects dealing with problems of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and ozone depleting substances (ODS). Using existing best methods and practices of handling POPs and ODS is an important condition for implementing international treaties ratified by Ukraine (specifically, Montreal Protocol and Stockholm Convention on POPs. Today there are dozens of thousands of tons of POPs in Ukraine which are subject to elimination.

According to Chetverykov, in order to ensure that funds allocated by international technical assistance projects are invested in optimal technical solutions for eliminating POPs and ODS, the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine should improve coordination of these projects.

Dmytro Skrylnykov, the Head of the Non-Government Organization "Bureau of Environmental Investigations", told about another urgent problem, namely, transborder movement of waste. According to official statistics, some 180 million tons of hazardous and household waste are generated every year in the world. Controls over transborder movement and elimination of hazardous waste are exercised under Basel Convention. However, weak institutional and legal frameworks, corruption, insufficient control and inadequate sanctions hinder effective application of environmental standards and create conditions for illegal operations. Most scandalous cases of illegal import of hazardous waste in Ukraine were revealed thanks to the public efforts.

Dmytro Skrylnykov mentioned that some 3,000 tons of industrial waste came from Hungary between 1999 and 2005 under the guise of raw materials for production of braking system (heat resistant filler (Premix)). Ukrainian experts classified this waste as 1st class hazardous waste. Ukraine spent over $2,000,000 from the state budget for elimination of the waste. In addition, Skrylnykov mentioned typical signs of illegal waste turnover and ways to reveal it.

In his presentation, Yuli Khomutovsky, the Deputy Director of the state-owned company "Committee on Hygienic Standards of the State Sanitary-and-Epidemiological Service of Ukraine" considered the status and legal aspects of implementation of the Rotterdam Convention in Ukraine.

During the discussion, the round table participants expressed an opinion that the Government should (i) regularly inform the public and stakeholders on actions associated with implementation of international chemical conventions ratified by Ukraine; (ii) begin revision of the Action plan for implementing the Stockholm Convention on POPs; (iii) effectively coordinate activities of individual programmes and projects dealing with the implementation process and unite their efforts to attain a synergy effect; (iv) stop the practice of continuous changes of national coordinators (focal points) of chemical conventions caused by staff turnover in the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine.

Olga Tsygulyova summarized the discussion of the implementation of international chemical conventions by Ukraine and pointed out that Ukraine lost an opportunity to sign Minamata Convention on Mercury which was adopted and opened for signing in October 2013 in Kumamoto, Japan). This convention is intended to reduce use of mercury for the purpose of protecting human health and environment. Olga Tsygulyova stressed that as Minamata Convention is essential for Ukraine, all needed efforts must be taken to have Ukraine joint it.

Olexandr Posmitny, a MAMA-86 expert, focused on preconditions for developing a national SAICM. SAICM is a framework for managing efforts to attain the objective set by Johannesburg plan, namely, to produce and use chemical in such a way that the their harmful impact on human health and the environment is minimised by year 2020. Ukraine confirmed its intention to implement this initiative by joining it at the first session of the International Conference in Chemicals Management in Dubai in February 2006.

Today, there are 931 facilities operating in Ukraine where 308,070 tons of hazardous chemical are stored or used. The current Ukrainian legislative framework of chemical safety fails to ensure resolution of all urgent issues in the given area. Oleksandr Posmitny stressed that handling hazardous chemicals including obsolete and prohibited pesticides and agriculture chemicals and other toxic waste must become an integral part of the national environmental policy and be based on the national administration system in the chemical safety sphere which should be formulated and developed based on domestic and European experience. This will enable Ukraine to stop degrading of the environment and negative impact of hazardous chemical pollutants on health of the current and future generations of the Ukrainians.

Larisa Smerdova, a senior research fellow of the Laboratory for Eco-hygiene and Toxicology of Hazardous Waste under umbrella of the Research Centre for Preventive Toxicology, Food and Chemical Safety named after L.I. Medvid, the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, presented a vision of SAICM as a system for securing chemical safety and protecting the population from the impact of toxic chemicals. Larisa Smerdova mentioned the interrelationship between morbidity and environment contamination. For the purposes of making decisions on the severity of risks associated with chemicals and hazardous waste and minimising such risks, a relevant assessment must be made which would allow for possible transformation of such chemicals / waste in the environment. The chemical pollutants-related risk assessment system should employ a comprehensive approach and incorporate accounting and systemic analysis of numerous factors. Smerdova emphasized that internationally SAICM serves a basis for chemical safety promotion policies. Ukraine needs to develop and take comprehensive measures to enhance an existing chemical safety system.

Denis Pavlovsky, an assistant and chemical safety projects coordinator of MAMA-86, presented results of the international sociological survey of consumers and companies: opinions and concerns with regard to operations in the chemical safety sphere. The survey, which employed a questionnaire form, was conducted in ten countries including Ukraine in 2015. In Ukraine, MAMA-86 surveyed over 900 customers in Kyiv, Kirovograd, and Yaremche and over 50 companies. The customers were asked about their attitude towards the chemical safety of consumer goods whereas the surveyed companies were used a source of trustworthy information on chemical safety of their produce. The survey outcomes evidence people's concern for the quality of chemical products and negative impact of chemicals on the environment and human health. According to most respondents, there is lack of information on the chemical composition and safety of the produce. Denis Pavlovsky stressed the importance of an access to such information for all market players, from a producer to a waste manager. Existing gaps in available information are caused by producers' failure to study the impact of chemicals which are used in production processes on the environment and human health. The survey results prove how important for Ukraine is creation and implementation of the national SAICM.

The participants decided, following the round table, to draft relevant letters to central executive authorities with their recommendations on overcoming identified problems and creating proper conditions for successful implementation of chemical conventions and SAICM in Ukraine.

Participants' presentations:

Photos of the round table are posted here.

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