An Interim Storage Hazardous Waste Facility designed to receive hazardous wastes that cannot be disposed locally, was inaugurated yesterday by the Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity, and Environment and Sustainable Development, Mr Etienne Sinatambou, at La Chaumière, Bambous.
The facility will help in the management of hazardous wastes which are inspected, tested, repackaged and labeled prior to collection and storage, and will be subsequently exported for recovery and disposal at licensed facilities. Laboratory and industrial chemical wastes (acids, alkalis, heavy metals, spent organic solvents, organic sludges), paint wastes, obsolete pesticides, pharmaceutical wastes, waste gas cylinders and waste aerosols will be stored at the facility.
In his speech Minister Sinatambou stated that the need to protect, sustain and heal the environment is of paramount importance, adding that the facility has been put in place as part of Government's strategy to discharge its responsibilities with regard to the Multilateral Environmental Agreements adopted by Mauritius on effective control of hazardous wastes.
The facility which has been constructed to the tune of some Rs 215 million is equipped with an on-site laboratory with sophisticated equipment for the characterisation and testing of hazardous wastes. It will cost more than Rs 230 million over the next five years to operate this facility, which is a symbol of what can be achieved when the public and private sector work together, said the Minister.
Speaking of the support provided by the Global Environment Facility, Mr Sinatambou recalled that, as at now, Mauritius has been able to safely dispose some 140 tonnes of persistent organic pollutants and 7 tonnes of hazardous wastes through exportation to licensed treatment and disposal facility abroad. These pertain mostly to stockpiled quantities that had for years remained in poor storage conditions. It is high time for Government to come up with its own system for continuous collection, storage and exportation of hazardous wastes in order to reduce environment and health risks associated with long term storage, he added.
The Minister urged industries and users of hazardous products to act in a responsible manner and work closely with relevant authorities to find ways and means to mitigate their impact on human health and contribute to a sustainable environment.
Interim Storage Hazardous Waste Facility
The facility has been developed over a portion of land of 4.5 hectares and comprises three storage buildings for hazardous wastes and one quarantine and packaging building; one administration and laboratory block; one workshop and consumable stores; a platform to accommodate a maximum of seven containers for hazardous waste export; a weighbridge; and contaminated surface water and roof storage ponds.
In line with the "polluter pays" and "user pays" principle, a fee of Rs 100 per kg of hazardous wastes and an additional of Rs 2500 for quantities exceeding one tonne has to be paid for the disposal of hazardous wastes at the facility. The disposal fee is intended to encourage generators, in particular industries, to put in place waste prevention and recycling measures.