Remarks by the Auditor General Mr. Alar Karis about audit report “Processing of hazardous and radioactive waste”

Alar Karis | 6/11/2015 | 12:00 AM

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“Estonia produced 264,000 tonnes of hazardous waste (not counting oil shale waste) and 82 tonnes of natural radioactive waste in 2013. Since the 1990s, nearly 10 million euros has been invested in state-owned hazardous waste collection centres and 30 million in the interim storage for managing radioactive waste. It is therefore important that these facilities meet their purpose of waste management and ensure a safer environment.
This audit report shows that the Ministry of the Environment should pay more attention to the management of hazardous waste, as the state has not been able to meet the goals of the waste management plan for 2008-2013 to reduce the generation of hazardous waste, increase its recycling, and eliminate residual pollution. The actual trend of hazardous waste management was opposite to the plan: quantities increased while recycling remained on the level of 2008.
Disposal has decreased, but only because the state’s only hazardous waste landfill in Vaivara has not accepted waste since the autumn of 2012 and the waste that should have been disposed of there has been recorded under recycled waste. The goal of eliminating hazardous liquid waste from sources of residual waste has been achieved half-way: 4700 m3 out of 10,000 m3 of such waste still remains to be eliminated.
Another concern is that the state’s waste reporting does not reflect the generation and management of hazardous waste correctly. Recycled and disposed quantities have been exaggerated in the reports for the given period. For example, recycling has been overestimated in the state’s 2013 report by one-fifth, and the amount of unmanaged hazardous waste has been doubled.
Reports on hazardous waste reflect as recycled the waste that has undergone the preparatory procedures for recycling (e.g. sorting), but has not been fully recycled. The audit established a discrepancy between the end-of-year and beginning-of-year stock levels in the state’s waste report (the difference being thousands of tonnes), which refers to the inaccuracy of data on the reception, transfer and management of waste. One-third of waste oil, asbestos and end-of-life ships is not managed and not covered by the state’s reports on the generation of waste.
As the improper management and disposal into the environment of hazardous and radioactive waste pollutes groundwater, surface water and the soil and endangers living organisms and human health, we cannot remain indifferent about this issue.ˮ

  • Posted: 6/11/2015 12:00 AM
  • Last Update: 9/8/2015 1:32 PM
  • Last Review: 9/8/2015 1:32 PM

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