Published On: 24/03/2020

Hundreds of tons of dangerous pesticides could be burned near Devnya. The possibility of this  happening, without public procurement and by unclear technology, is regulated by the Law of Measures during the State of Emergency. Bulgaria does not have facilities for disposal of obsolete pesticides guaranteeing compliance with the requirements of the Stockholm Convention. This is stated in an open letter from the Coalition “To Stay Nature in Bulgaria”, part of which is the Public Environmental Center for Sustainable Development (PECSD). However, a check on showed that two companies in Bulgaria hold permits for the on-site incineration of hazardous waste, classified under code 20 01 19. Both are Sofia-based and have been approved for the same waste treatment site of over 3.6 decares in the area opposite the town of Devnya. The permit of Ecoseif Ltd. is from August last year for 1000 tons / year, and for the company “VIP Ecology” Ltd. for the same quantity as of October 2018, without the owner of the site specified in the documents.

According to the descriptions of the technological process, the pesticides will be combusted in chamber furnaces with periodic action. This type of furnace is not suitable for the incineration of hazardous waste, incl. pesticides, for a number of technical reasons, the environmental ministry said. According to him, there is a risk of incomplete burning due to lack of sufficient control of the mandatory minimum temperature, as well as the formation of dioxins and furans – proven carcinogenic pollutants that permanently damage the body. There is also no clarity about the ash, slag and flue gas generated from the process.

The lack of suitable facilities for burning pesticides in our country has been confirmed by the statement of Georgi Markov, Chief Expert at the Enterprise for Environmental Protection Management (EMEPA) in September last year.

Speaking at the time of the adoption of the legal changes due to the state of emergency, the Minister of Environment and Water Emil Dimitrov told in Parliament: “The pesticides we have collected are from our contract with Switzerland (in 2010 Bulgaria concludes a contract for a disposal project pesticides – BA). The program is over, but we are committed to clean up. The pesticides will be burned at the only incinerator licensed. This is the end of the Swiss program. There is no conflict here. Why are you creating it?”.

“Pesticides are among the most dangerous organic pollutants. The problem is that their storage costs too much for their owners. However, if done correctly, it is safer for humans and the environment than burning them, “commented Ilian Iliev of PECSD.

Vanya Zaharieva of the Breathe Devnya Association comment the voted decision with the Law on Measures during the State of Emergency as “unlawful, untimely and very questionable”. “I believe that Bulgarian and European institutions will investigate the case and things will come to light,” Zaharieva said. According to her, the civil association “Breathe, Devnya” will actively promote this to happen because of the life and health of the people in Devnya, Varna, Provadia and the neighboring settlements.

“The state of emergency in Bulgaria and other European countries caused by the Covid-19 virus does not in any way imply the combustion of toxic substances without the necessary safety technologies. On the contrary, such action poses a potential threat to the health of people living near installations where pesticides will be incinerated, ”the open letter addressed to the Ministry of Environment and Waters, National Assembly, Parliamentary Committee on the Environment, the Attorney General, the Embassy of Switzerland and the Environment Directorate of the European Commission.

Translator: Valentina Vagge