Waste Management in Armenia

Landfills

Armenia lacks any unified and coherent waste management policy and landfill creation procedure. Landfills are haphazardly created lacking environmental assessments and technical oversight and guidance. Below are links corresponding to specific landfill studies and existing and, potential environmental concerns. There are 45 urban landfills and  approximately 429 rural landfills in Armenia.  None are constructed, managed and maintained to acceptable international standards.  These pose a grave danger to the health and welfare of the Armenian people.  For these reasons, AEN’s focus in Armenia is on improving waste management through environmental education and the construction of low-tech landfills.  To read more about AEN’s approach, click here.

Below are numerous links to reports, articles and studies conducted on various landfills around Armenia.  It is by no means an exhaustive list, rather one that attempts to present a broad perspective on Armenia’s landfill problems.

AEN blog post on Nubarashen, Armenia’s largest landfill, 2011.

General summary on adverse health effects associated with landfills, from 2005 app.

Excessive PVC content in waterways due to a lack of an official waste management plan, combined with drastic number of plastic bags clogging rivers and streams, pose serious hazards to public health. For more information see AWHHE’s website.

Introduction article on problems associated with landfills.

WHO report outlines dangers associated with landfills.

“Armenia” section of Basel Convention website has short summary of waste management problems, from 2004.

Comprehensive report on Nubarashen Landfill  with suggested changes and improvements, from 2009.

AWHHE PowerPoint , with scientific data, on a number of toxic sites in Armenia.

Exposure to toxic chemicals in and near Alaverdi exacerbates existing health problems and is thought to actually create serious mental and health problems in children and infants. Watch the video: Deadly Formulas.

Report on Alaverdi Chemical dump from UNDP-OSCE.

Scientific study of the Debed river system, post dumping from Alaverdi and other sites.

Berd Municipal Dump –Masters Thesis from Patricia Butler of Michigan Technological University, from 2008.

Municipal Solid Waste Management Armenia –Masters Thesis from Georgi Arzumanyan of The International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics, from 2004.

International POPs Elimination (IPEN) Report on dioxin/furan leaks, from 2006.

Article on the danger of Sovetashen Landfill , from 2007.

UNICEF article on the “human cost” regarding children who scavenge dump sites– Date Unknown.

As was suggested in our Legal and Policy Development Portal Armenia has plenty of laws regarding the protection of the environment and, in particular, the handling of solid waste.   Again, what Armenia lacks is any enforcement of these laws.  Listed below are links to reports that suggest strategies and programs for enforcement of waste management laws.

INECE (International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement) held their SIXTH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON ENVIRONMENTAL COMPLIANCE AND ENFORCEMENT in 2001 (app).  The title explains it all.

2003 report, commissioned by UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization) on POP’s, with suggestions.

 The following is a set of recommendations from an international review by OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) in 2005. The suggestions are for promoting compliance with environmental requirements in Armenia.

IPEN (International POP’s Elimination Project) report on POP’s, put together by Ecotox in 2006.   This report offers suggestions for identifying sources of dioxins and furans and reducing the damages they cause.

Armenia has plenty of laws regarding the protection of the environment and, in particular, the handling of solid waste.  In an attempt to illustrate AEN’s contention that law enforcement is the major impediment to protecting Armenia’s environment we have included a listing of laws related to waste and waste management.  This section attempts to organize much of the disparate material into an easier-to-read format. It is by no means definitive or inclusive

The most comprehensive listing of environmental laws found was a UNITAR (United Nations Institute for Training and Research) report from 2005.  The report covers nearly 200 pages and is an extensive listing of the RA’s Laws on Wastes.   Some of the more relevant sections are found in Chapter 4.3:

a.       Paragraph 1 – Outlines the tasks requiring “expertise” in dealing with waste.

b.      Paragraph 2* – Outlines the main points of November 2004’s RA Law on Waste.

c.       Paragraphs 3 & 4 – Deal with the listing of hazardous and banned substances so as to be in accordance with the Basel Convention and Lists

d.      Paragraphs 5 & 6 – Deal with the licensing of individuals involved in recycling, decontaminating, treatment, transporting and storage of wastes.

e.      Paragraph 8 – Deals specifically with the transport of hazardous waste.

f.        Paragraph 26 & 27 – Outlines Armenia’s commitment to the adoption of the strictures of the Rotterdam Convention.  The Rotterdam Convention lists banned pesticides and chemicals.

g.       Paragraphs 28 & 29 – Refers to implementing, per law, the Stockholm Convention on POP’s (Persistent Organic Pollutants).  Actions that legally must be carried out are:

Actions on implementation of priority goals of the National Implementation Plan for the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants involve the following:

• Actions in legislative and institutional area

• Activity relevant to PCBs, Dioxins/Furans;

• Activity on monitoring investigations;

• Capacity building on POPs management related issues;

• Actions dealing with wastes and waste-dumps;

• Measures on remediation/recovery;

• Research activity;

• Public awareness-raising , training and education;

• Reporting activity.

h.       Paragraphs 34 & 35 – Details Code on Administrative Violations and Crimes

The Second National Environmental Action Programme of the Republic of Armenia was developed by the Ministry of Nature Protection between 2006 – 2008.

Specific to our concerns Pages 29 – 31 offer the most relevant information.  Bolded and italicized words are AEN’s.

In order to ensure the enforcement of the RA Law “On Waste” 29 sub-legislative acts were adopted (Resolutions of the RA Government, institutional decrees). To meet the requirements of the above-mentioned legal acts and ensure ecologically safe waste management, the following measures are being implemented in the Republic of Armenia:

− State registration of waste;

− Passportization of hazardous waste;

− Registration of waste generation, processing and û·ï³Ñ³ÝáõÙ objects with the purpose of creating and running the register thereof;

− Registration of waste removal locations with the purpose of creating and running the register thereof;

− The process of approving projects for waste generation norms and their installation quotas developed by legal entities and private entrepreneurs

− Activities for setting up a state waste cadastre.

This report, generated by the Ministry of Nature Protection recognizes, publically, Armenia’s pressing issues regarding waste management.

All of the mentioned issues become more pressing as there are no specializes polygons for neutralization and burial of industrial waste. There is a lack of specially organized spots for domestic waste disposal, which will meet the sanitary-hygiene requirements. Industrial and domestic waste is not collected separately. Practically all types of waste are removed to the same urban and rural landfills without any sorting. Another pressing issue is the ecologically safe disposal of expired medication and unusable chemicals, pesticides, medications, as well the waste containing persistent organic pollutions (oils polluted with polychlorinated biphenyls). The issues of monitoring waste disposal spots is not solved yet from the perspective of researching residual quantities of such primary hazardous chemicals as heavy metals, chloral-organic pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB).

 

Necessary steps directed to the solution of sector problems are as follows:

− Risk assessment of the hazardous chemicals’ impact of the human health and the environment;

− Development of methodological approaches for risk assessment and reduction of the hazardous chemicals’ impact;

− Development of national strategy on minimizing the risk of the hazardous chemicals‘ impact on human health and the environment;

− Drafting of the RA Law “On Chemicals”;

− Creation of a ecologically safe waste management system, including the improvement of appropriate legal framework;

− Creation of registers for the waste generation, processing and utilization objects and their disposal locations;

− Implement monitoring of waste disposal spots with the aim of assessing the impact of waste on the environment;

− Ensuring reduction in waste generation, maximum use, including the expansion of secondary use of waste;

− Elaboration and initiation of measures on ecologically safe disposal of generated wastes;

− Establishment of specialized waste disposal polygons and landfills.

 

Conventions  – Armenia is a signatory to a number of international conventions and a prospective member  in a number of additional international organizations.  This will be a cursory glance at these conventions and, in some instances, at Armenia’s adherence, or lack of, to the conventions they have signed and thereby agreed to abide by.

A.      Basel Convention on Hazardous Wastes – Ratified 1999 – The report that indicates that Armenia “does not report” the amount of hazardous waste’s generated, as per the Basel requirements.

B.      Rotterdam – Armenia signed the Rotterdam Convention on Banned Pesticides and Chemicals in 2003.

C.      Stockholm  – Armenia signed the Stockholm  Convention for protecting health and the human environment for persistent organic pollutants (POP’s), in the early 2004.  A NIP (National Implementation Plan) was submitted in 2006 with a timeline for adherence to POP’s strictures.  Note the timeline which is attached at the end of the report.  Durations for adherence have an outside time limit of five years.  A quick look at the timeline would indicate that Armenia has neglected to address a significant number of the Convention’s requirements and suggestions.

D.      Aarhus – Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters.  In regards to Aarhus compliance read this article from HETQ, or re-visit our section on Transparency.

 

If you know of an organization or report that should be listed here and is not, please Contact Us with a brief explanation of its relevance and an active URL for the organization or report

To view a broader list of active environmental organizations, see Our Partners page.

For reports and other publications relevant to this topic, see our Publications page.