Massive toxic waste in Chittagong to be removed after four decades

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DDT has been banned in Bangladesh for more than 20 years

Bangladesh is set to remove approximately 1,000 tonnes of hazardous pesticides, which have been stored in Chittagong for four decades, from next month.

The project will be implemented through the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Pesticide Risk Reduction in Bangladesh project, jointly managed by the Department of Environment (DoE) and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC).

An inception workshop for the project took place on Saturday, at a hotel in Chittagong.

A specialist company will take about three to four months to remove the now banned Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), under strictly controlled conditions, and ship the waste to France.
Despite DDT being banned in Bangladesh for more than 20 years, it is still used widely in dried fish production and in some vegetable production. Hence, FAO is assisting the government of Bangladesh to carry out the operation.

FAO Representative in Bangladesh Robert D Simpson said: “MoEFCC and FAO will oversee the imminent clean-up and safe disposal of this large stockpile of DDT, which poses a health and environmental hazard. This toxic chemical has no place for use in modern agriculture or food processing.”

“The DDT removal is highly technical and requires specialist knowledge and equipment. Procedures must comply with national and international laws, rules and regulations,” said Saso Martinov, the project’s senior technical advisor.

He added: “In addition to the DDT removal, FAO will promote alternative, low-hazard pest control options. We will support the government’s ongoing efforts to transition towards more sustainable practices in agricultural pest management and the conservation of natural resources.”

Aside from the DDT operation, the project proposes piloting a disposal and recycling strategy for empty pesticide containers. It will also help to tighten pesticide customs control, training staff to conduct chemical analysis on goods.

Approximately Tk35,522.15 lakh ($42,038,050) of the project’s budget is provided by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and co-financed by the FAO, DOE, DAE, DGHS, and DoF.

Md Mostafa Kamal, secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, was present at the event as chief guest and Additional Secretary (Environment) Md Moniruzzaman was present as special guest at the workshop.

Md Ashraf Uddin, director general of the Department of Environment, chaired the workshop. Representatives of Chittagong City Corporation and Metropolitan Police were also present.
Stakeholders at the workshop were provided with an overview of the project and discussed suggestions for successful implementation of the project. More than 60 representatives attended from various organizations and government departments, including the Ministry of Family Health and Family Welfare, Department of Agricultural Extension, Department of Fisheries, Directorate General of Health Services, University of Chittagong, Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute, Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute, plus farmers and dry fish producers.

Bangladesh imported around 1,000 tonnes of DDT in 1985, which were stored at the Chittagong Medical Sub-Depot in Agrabad.

Due to DDT’s high persistence, the consignment in Chittagong contains exactly the same amount of active ingredients at present as it did over 37 years ago.

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