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Daily News Archive
From October 23, 2001

Pesticide Stockpile Threatening Health of Residents

Pesticides that have been stored in their original, now rotting and rusting containers at the National Agricultural Research Council in Kathmandu, Nepal are threatening the health of residents, workers, livestock, local water supplies, irrigation systems and soil. The pesticides were exported by multinationals such as Bayer, Sumitomo, Sandoz, Shell, Rhone Poulenc, Du Pont, Union Carbide (Dow) and Monsanto some 20 years ago, and then abandoned after being banned or reaching their expiry date.

Greenpeace efforts to contain the toxic waste have been successful and are nearing completion. They are asking the pesticide manufacturers to remove the pesticides from Nepal and ensure they are disposed of safely. Andreas Bernstorff, Greenpeace toxic waste expert, said, "These stockpiles of obsolete pesticides are ecological time bombs. For these companies to abandon these toxic poisons with a total disregard for the health of local people and the environment is shameful. This would not be allowed to happen in the West."

The most toxic substances found at the site originated from the German chemical company Bayer and include chlorinated organomercury compounds, banned for use in the European Union since 1988. Bayer has refused any support for clean up. The stockpiles also include banned pesticides, such as dieldrin and DDT.

More than 70 tons of obsoliete pesticides exist in seven known locations around Nepal. The activists are containing all of the poisons, including a thick layer that has built up on the warehouse floor, in high-density barrels and hundreds of small containers, sachets and bags and are making them ready for sea transport back to their countries of origin.