The tests undertaken by the Ministry of Environment of North Macedonia at Pelenica, located next to the Skopje suburb of Drachevo, showed high concentration of lindane (HCH) covered by waste glass. The hazardous waste from the former chemical industry complex OHIS was not placed in concrete pools, as is the case with the two landfills in OHIS’s yard, which makes Pelenica particularly dangerous for the soil and the groundwater.
According to the tests made at several points on the site, high concentrations of HCH were detected in the top layer, at a depth of 20 centimeters or less. The hazardous waste is mixed with construction waste and waste from a glass factory. At a depth of just half a meter, pure lindane was found.
“The dump site contains several types of hazardous waste – about 40,000 tons of pure HCH, and about 6,500 tons of mixed HCH, together with waste from a glass factory. The samples taken from the site also contain a high concentration of chlorоbenzenes and dioxins and furans. Only one metal barrel with waste was found. Other barrels may have been removed in the past and their contents scattered on the site. There is also construction debris,” the report of the ministry states.
The soil beneath the dumping site is also contaminated with lindane, but the actual depth is not known. The groundwater near the site is also contaminated and there is a risk of spreading the contamination. What is the most dangerous, as the examination has shown, is the contamination of the surface layer of the soil of Pelenica, because the hazardous waste is present in the contact zone.
The Ministry of Environment informs that there are three options for remediation, and the best one was to overlay the dump site, including the embankment, with soil, in order to prevent direct contact with the contaminated surface soil and to limit the future infiltration of rainwater into the site. Contamination of the groundwater will be monitored also, and a prohibition of its use is possible, depending on the results of the monitoring.
The examination was done by “Deacons Emma”, together with the subcontractor TAUW from the Netherlands last November, and the sampling was monitored by an audit team composed of professors from the Institute of Chemistry at the Faculty of Science and Mathematics in Skopje. Analysis of the samples was performed in the “Eurofins” laboratory in the Netherlands and it cost about MKD 3 million (€48,700).
Meta.mk has been writing for several years about the danger of the third lindane dump site, which is outside OHIS’s yard and, as a result, a fence was erected three years ago to prevent movement in the contaminated area.
According to the available information, it is assumed that the lindane was deposited in 1970s by OHIS, after the ban for its production and use. Meanwhile, before it was fenced off and made off-limits, Pelenica was a popular spot for school excursions.
Lindane is classified as a group 1 carcinogen by the International Association for Cancer Research, with sufficient evidence that it causes non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The chemical is persistent and does not break down in the environment for a long time. Since it is a volatile substance, it scatters from the contaminated soil and is also contained in the PM particles. Lindane exposure can occur with consumption of contaminated food or by breathing contaminated air. Chronic (long-term) exposure to lindane by inhalation in humans is associated with liver and blood disease, as well as disorders of the nervous, cardiovascular, immune and reproductive systems.