Russia and CIS focus on toxics management

Russia and other countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) are recognising that they face major hurdles in overcoming the legacy of inadequate management of toxic substances and instituting environmentally sound practices, and they are working with United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Chemicals to deal with the situation.

In two separate meetings in July, experts from CIS and other countries, and a wide range of organisations will meet to focus on solutions for protection of public health and the environment from toxic risks. The first meeting will be held from 6 to 9 July 1999 near Moscow (Golitsino), Russian Federation, and will address technologies for treatment and destruction of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, and obsolete pesticides. The second will take place 13-15 July 1999 in St. Petersburg, Russia, and will address approaches for collecting and disseminating data on toxic emissions to the air, water, and soil.

UNEP Chemicals is organising these expert meetings jointly with the Centre for International Projects (CIP) of the State Committee of the Russian Federation on Environmental Protection together with the Russian Ministry of Health. The meetings are part of the UNEP Chemicals/Russia project, known as the CIP Project on Strengthening of National Chemicals Management in the CIS Countries.
At the Moscow meeting, discussion of current problems and solutions involving PCBs and obsolete pesticides is intended to encourage the development of national action plans for safe management.

In St. Petersburg, experts will discuss the first steps toward establishing a system for collecting and disseminating data on toxic releases to the environment. Such a system is known as a Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR). In different forms, PRTRs are being adopted in countries around the world as an effective tool in monitoring the pollution burden on the environment.
They can also provide a valuable source of information to communities, workers, and decision makers at all levels on actions that affect public health and the environment. Establishing PRTRs was recommended by the Earth Summit – the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development.

Significant strides are being made in establishing such registers in CIS countries. A CIP workshop held in March in Moscow laid the foundation for setting up PRTRs on a pilot basis in Kazakhstan, Russian Federation, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

Russia is establishing registers on a pilot region basis, starting with the Volgograd Region, and the first workshop took place in Volgograd in May. The second is the July workshop jointly organized by UNEP Chemicals, CIP, and the local authorities of the city of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region. Similar activities are being initiated in Ekaterinburg, Kazan, and Perm.

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