Management and Disposal of PCBs in Rwanda
What is the project about
This project supports Rwandan efforts in the management and disposal of Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCBs) which are harm to human health and environment when they are released. PCBs were widely used as dielectric and coolant fluids, for example in electric transformers, capacitors, and electric motors. Due to PCBs' environmental toxicity and classification as a Persistent Organic Pollutant (POP), PCB production was banned by the United States Congress in 1979 and by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants in 2001. Rwanda ratified the Stockholm Convention in July 2002. Since then, this Convention has been in force in the country. The National Implementation Plan (NIP) was submitted to the Stockholm Convention Secretariat on May 30, 2007.
The project has both national and global benefit in the mitigation or elimination of risks associated with the release of PCBs into the environment and their subsequent global distribution with resultant ecological and human health impacts from exposure to this chemical. The project fits with the country’s priorities associated with sound chemicals management as reflected in the other priority environmental management initiatives related to addressing national priorities associated with other POPs issues, hazardous waste management and Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM).
The overall objective of this project is to reduce environmental and human health risks from PCBs releases through strengthening of the technical and regulatory capacity for the environmentally sound management and disposal of PCBs in Rwanda. This will be achieved through the introduction of cost-effective environmentally sound management (ESM) to PCB oils, equipment and wastes held by electrical utilities in the country. The project has four key components and aims to achieve the following outcomes:
Component 1: Complete PCB inventory through enhanced cooperation with the Government bodies and equipment holders and selection of options for PCB disposal;
Outcome 1.1: Updated the PCB inventory per category of holders (database) and reinforced local capacity to maintain and update PCB inventory on annual basis
Outcome1.2: RECO (currently EWSA and the principal PCB holder) and other possible holders are accessed to establish partnership scheme(s) for early/mature equipment replacement.
Component 2: Legislative support to aid the operation of PCB management system.
Outcome 2.1: PCB legislation and technical guidance developed and implemented.
Outcome 2.2: Developed and established rules to avoid cross-contamination of the oils and equipment; rules/procedures on handling contaminated oils/equipment and labelling.
Component 3: Stakeholders and public sensitized and PCB equipment holders handle equipment in well informed and responsible manner (capacity building).
Outcome 3.1: Public awareness campaigns conducted.
Outcome 3.2: Promoted safe and proper equipment handling at holders; holders trained on leak handling, safeguarding and repairing of old/damaged equipment.
Component 4: Safe Disposal of PCB equipment, oils and waste material.
Outcome 4.1: Assessed existing locations for safe PCB equipment storage.
Outcome 4.2: Collected PCB equipment/packaged oils and waste sent for storage location(s).
Outcome 4.3: Agreed disposal plan put in place; shipment overseas and final disposal.
The project is implemented by Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) in close coordination and collaboration with relevant government institutions (EWSA, RBS, NUR, KIST e.t.c), industries, private holders of PCB containing equipment, public and local authorities.
Achievements so far:
i. A five days training for technicians on how to do the inventory and mapping of electricity transformers in the entire country to establish those suspected to be containing PCB was held. Participants were drawn from Energy Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA); Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST); Rwanda Bureau of Standards (RBS); National University of Rwanda (NUR) and Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA – department of Environmental Regulations and Pollution Control).
ii. Complete inventory and mapping of electricity transformers was done in the entire country. A total of 2,344 transformers were inventoried of which among them 283 were suspected to be contaminated with PCB as well as sites which will require further soil and water analysis.
iii. A site for the construction of safe PCB contaminated equipment, oil and soil storage has been identified and agreed upon between REMA and EWSA.
Who finances it
The project is financed by GEF and UNDP core funds with additional funding from national institutional in Rwanda: Energy, Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA) and Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA).