Concern over alleged toxic waste deal with Kiev
As the Czech government debates a controversial eco-tender on the clean-up of environmental pollution caused under the communist regime, the daily Právo has published a surprising story. Over 100 barrels of the toxic substance beryllium are reportedly being loaded on trucks in Kiev, Ukraine to be transported to a secret destination in the Czech Republic.
Now the Kiev town hall says it has found a solution. It reportedly commissioned the Israeli firm SIGroup Consort Ltd to find a means of getting rid of the waste and claims that a contract was signed with an entity in the Czech Republic which had agreed to take over the waste for the equivalent of 29 million crowns. According to the local media the waste is ready for transport to an unknown destination in the Czech Republic and should set off in a number of days. The route and destination are being kept under wraps for security reasons.
Kevin Brigden, a scientist with Greenpeace, explains what beryllium is.
What if is it is stored in sealed containers and buried – how big is the danger then?
“If the material is kept contained then there is going to be very little chance of exposure of people to this compound. However, if one does not know how well it is contained and where it is going to be stored then obviously that needs to be clarified. And in addition to that also what other materials may be present within the waste –unless it is pure beryllium – presumably there are other compounds potentially present as well with their own potential for health risks or risks to the environment.”
“Based on the facts published by the media today this is a 100 percent illegal activity and it is now up to the Environment Ministry, the Inspection Office and also the police to follow this import and when they reach and cross the border to check the contents and send them back with it –because it is illegal.”
You yourself served as environment minister for a time – were there any attempts to smuggle toxic substances past the authorities, to this country for storage or other purposes?
The Czech Environment Ministry on Tuesday confirmed that it was looking into the matter. The only thing which appears certain at this point is that Ukraine, like many other post-communists states, is looking for ways to unload dangerous toxic waste and has reportedly earmarked 176 million hryvnias – the equivalent of 396 million crowns - to deal with 22 toxic waste storage sites in the country.