What are the main challenges for dealing with toxic, ignitable, corrosive, and reactive hazardous wastes?

Hazardous wastes and low-hazard waste can be present as solids, liquids, sludges, gases and can have toxic, reactive, ignitable, corrosive, infectious, or radioactive properties. These wastes can be located in different places (e.g. shipyards, abandoned, bankrupt factories, military bases, dumpsites, transformer stations). Proper labelling and registration of present chemicals and hazardous wastes; presence of a sound storage facility and disposal site; and/or sound packaging of wastes are frequently lacking in the event of hazardous and chemical wastes being abandoned and/or managed inadequately. The generators of these hazardous wastes are often unknown or no longer available, leaving the problems to third parties to solve.

Typical examples of improperly handled hazardous and chemical wastes include:

  • Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and obsolete pesticides collected and stored in barns and storehouses without any oversight or management.
  • Production waste and hazardous waste left behind at bankrupt factories.
  • Chemicals used in the illicit manufacture of drugs left behind in drugs laboratories or dumped in the environment.
  • Waste generated at unregulated factories and dumped in the environment.

Due to lack of proper labelling and registration of present wastes, the quantity of wastes, form of wastes (e.g. solids, liquids), chemical composition, and hazardous materials classification are unknown. Due to their poor storage conditions, the soil, groundwater and building materials at the sites with abandoned hazardous wastes are frequently contaminated.

Our services related to hazardous wastes inventories

Hazardous waste clean-up and destruction is a complex task. TAUW has a long track record of the assessment and inventory of hazardous wastes sites. Throughout our decades of experience with the inventorying of POPs, pesticides, global remediation of POPs and obsolete pesticides in developing countries, we have created the tools to inventory all sorts of hazardous wastes. TAUW can assist clients in the entire process, from the initial inventory, the preparation of documentation for clean-up, up to the supervision of the clean-up itself.

In general, our procedure to clean up abandoned hazardous wastes entails the following steps:

1. Inception meetings with client and stakeholders and desktop study to assess available information on types and quantities of wastes

2. Design and implementation of the necessary health, safety, environmental protocols, including:

  • Selection of appropriate personal protective equipment
  • Safety procedures

3. Assessment of the site situation, mapping of the structure and location of wastes, description of storage conditions, and accessibility of site

4. Inventory of wastes, including the hazardous waste classification, quantity and quality

  • Where labels are present, the wastes are registered, quantities established and packaging status in relation to ADR/IMDG or local regulation assessed
  • Where labels are lacking, TAUW has a variety of tools to establish the hazardous class and possibilities for recycling or destruction. This includes the use of XRF and a variety of field tests

5. Investigation of the environmental status of building materials, soil, sediment, surface water and groundwater

 6. TAUW can incorporate site investigation results into a robust conceptual site model (3D CSM) of the location and even take care of remediation, with TAUW as prime contractor in soil and groundwater remediation

  • Assessment of the possible solutions for processing of the wastes including cost estimates, suitable treatment or destruction facilities, and packaging requirements in line with ADR and IMDG

7. Drafting of tender documentation for the collection and clean-up of the hazardous wastes

  • TAUW ensures that clear and competitive tender documentation is drafted so as to maximize competition for the clean-up work

8. Supervision of clean-up

  • TAUW ensures that the contractor complies with the agreed scope and complies with needed health, safety, and environmental measures

EU-wide inventory of HCH and lindane sites

Under the name 'HCH in the EU', the European Commission commissioned a consortium with TAUW as lead consultant to identify sites where HCH was handled in the 27 EU Member States and to provide a full roadmap for sustainable management of seven selected HCH contaminated sites. 

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Reducing the impact of the Beetham Landfill and surroundings in Trinidad

This project aims to reduce the impact of the Beetham Landfill and its surroundings on the Caroni Swamp Nature Reserve in Trinidad. It is a collaborative effort led by the Basel Convention Regional Centre for Training and Technology Transfer for the Caribbean (BCRC-Caribbean), in partnership with TAUW bv and the Trinidad and Tobago Solid Waste Management Company.

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