The amount of per capita hazardous air emissions in Belarus is 52% higher than in the European Union, while the population density and the number of emission sources in Europe are higher. According to WHO, 9 out of 10 people in our plant are breathing air with a high concentration of pollutants; every year, about 7 million people die from breathing in air containing suspended particles capable of deep penetration into lungs and the cardiovascular system.
Now, Belarus is implementing the project “Support to Efficient Monitoring of Air Emissions and Radiation Monitoring, Improvement of Environmental Management in Belarus”. The project is funded by the European Union and implemented by Hulla & Co. Human Dynamics KG in cooperation with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, and it is a part of the common project “Strengthening Air Quality Monitoring and Environmental Management in Belarus” (SAQEM). The project partners are MNREP regional committees, the Republican Centre for Hydrometeorology, Radioactive Contamination Control and Environmental Monitoring, and the Republican Centre for Analytical Control in the Area of Environmental Protection.
To identify gaps in national systems of air quality monitoring and control, and to improve these systems, the project experts surveyed the observation stations and examined their main characteristics. The next step is procurement modern equipment, including equipment for the stations. A bidding procedure for procurement of 452 units of equipment totalling to about euros 6.5 million for upgrading 27 monitoring stations and air emission laboratories in Belarus has been successfully carried out, and the equipment deliveries to the country will begin this year.
Air quality monitoring is among top priorities of the national nature protection policy. Belarus has the Air Protection Law (adopted on 16 December 2008) and a number of other related regulations in effect. At the same time, more efforts are required to harmonize the national air quality monitoring and control regulations with the European regulations.
Efforts on ratification of three protocols to the Geneva Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution: Protocol on Heavy Metals, Protocol on Persistent Organic Pollutants, Gothenburg Protocol to Abate Acidification, Eutrophication and Ground-level Ozone, are on the way with the project support.
“Prompt ratification of these protocols will help Belarus make use of the advantages of the softer liability mode, i.e., implement a more economically viable way of reducing emissions, – believes Alexander Grebenkov, the Project Expert Team Leader. – It will also promote recognition of our country as an active partner in the international air protection efforts”.
In a short while, the project plans to test an enhanced system of issuance of environmental permits that regulate permissible impact on all natural spheres (earth, water, air) based on the cases of Belinvesttorg-Splav LLC, Minskenergo RUE, Belarusian Cement Plant OJSC, Belshina OJSC and Homieĺ Chemical Plant OJSC. Another project area is drawing up of ‘green’ development plans Brest, Orša, Hrodna and Pinsk. To this end, city streets will be outfitted with air quality and vehicle flow sensors. The measurements data will be uploaded to a special computer model, which will be reflected as a colour map showing what source emissions should be lowered and how, to achieve a change of a ‘dangerous’ colour to a ‘safe’ one. In future, this experience could be used in other cities as well.
The International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, 16 September, provides an opportunity to once again draw attention to air protection. The European Union funds projects aimed at the development of green economy, energy efficient technology and waste management practices, use of eco-friendly transport. Even a hundred years ago, when about 2 billion people lived on the Earth, very few people were concerned about the consequences of uncontrolled use of the planet resources, which appeared inexhaustible back then. Now, the lives and health of 8 billion people depend on the way, how people treat their habitat.