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Case Study 1

Experience of Elimination of POPs at a decommissioned landfill with expired “plant protection” chemicals and their packages in Zabrze, Poland.

In the 1970s Polish Parliament amended environmental acts which banned use of chlorine containing pesticides and remaining stockpiles were gathered in so called pesticide tombs. This case study deals with a pesticide landfill located in the area of the city of Zabrze in Silesia, in the southern part of Poland which was adopted from an old concrete oil warehouse in 1979 by the previous owner, the State Treasury. History of the landfill in chronological order will be presented below as well as legal basis which forced the site owner to take action to mitigate possible hazards posed by the pesticide landfill.

The pesticide landfill was located away from surface water courses and underground water intake points. The closest water course was located ca 100 m south from the facility and the closest underground water abstraction point was located ca. 2000 m from the facility to the north. Based upon the above information about the location of the pesticide landfill and its surroundings it was believed that that there would be a low level of risk posed by contaminants enclosed in the facility on the surrounding environment of surface and underground water. However, possible volatilization could occur.

Since the time of construction, the landfill was filled with various pesticides and their packaging materials, which contained lindane, DDT/DDE/DDD, aldrin and dieldrin among other contaminants.

Basis of the environmental protection in Poland

In 1989 a process of thorough social and economic transformation had been initiated in Poland which caused substantial ownership changes which led to an institutional loss of control over the landfill. It became an “orphan” landfill for the local community.

Environmental protection is one of the constitutional tasks of the state in Poland. It is also a right and responsibility of the citizens. According to the Constitution of the Republic of Poland of 2 April 1997 (DzU of 1997 No. 78, item 483): “The Republic of Poland ... shall ensure the protection of the natural environment pursuant to the principles of sustainable development” and “Public authorities shall purse policies ensuring the ecological security of current and future generations”.

In 1991 the Polish Parliament adopted the National Environmental Policy which is the basis for environmental protection in Poland and includes the priorities and goals until the year 2025. In 2000 the Second National Environmental Policy was adopted by the Council of Ministers. Two years later an updated version of Environmental Policy for the period 2003-2006, with the 2007-2010 long-term perspective was amended.