Toxic Waste Shipped to France for Disposal

Toxic Waste Shipped to France for DisposalToxic Waste Shipped to France for Disposal

More than 100 tons of hazardous substances including medical and industrial waste were shipped to France for disposal last year (ended March 20) under the Basel Convention, said deputy head of the Department of Environment (DOE) Saeed Motesadi.

“Toxic waste is a major quandary for any country and each nation seeks to distance itself from it through entirely safe methods,” he said, Alef website reported.

The shipped substances included industrial and medical waste plus askarel (a synthetic electrically insulating and nonflammable transformer liquid).

Hazardous wastes are poisonous byproducts of manufacturing, farming, city septic systems, construction, industry, auto garages, laboratories and hospitals. The waste may be liquid, solid or sludge. Even households generate hazardous waste from items such as batteries, used computer equipment and left over paints or pesticides.

Toxic waste can harm humans, animals and plants. It can cause death, injury or birth defects to living creatures. It spreads quite easily and can contaminate lakes, rivers and the atmosphere. The term is often used interchangeably with “hazardous waste” or discarded material that can pose a long-term risk to health or environment. Some toxins, such as mercury, persist in the environment and accumulate. Humans or animals often absorb them when they eat fish.

There are 189 manmade chemicals globally as the pressing need for agricultural products intensifies the necessity for chemical pesticides to boost crop yield. Due to the colossal impact the substances have on natural life and health, three international conventions of Rotterdam, Basel and Stockholm were established to protect human health and the environment against hazardous material.


The Rotterdam Convention is a multilateral treaty to promote shared responsibilities in relation to import of hazardous chemicals. It promotes open exchange of information and calls on exporters of hazardous chemicals to use proper labeling, include directions on safe handling and to inform purchasers of any known restrictions or bans. Iran ratified the convention in 2002 along with 154 other countries.

Complementing it, the Basel Convention is a 1989 international treaty designed to reduce the movements of hazardous waste between nations, and specifically to prevent transfer of hazardous waste from developed to less developed countries. Iran ratified the convention in 1993 and as of January 2015, 182 states are parties to it.

Additionally, the Stockholm Convention works to eliminate dangerous persistent organic pollutants (POPs), support the transition to safer alternatives, target additional POPs for action, and clean up old stockpiles and equipment containing POPs.

 Home Production

Under the three conventions, the DoE has also sent more than 1,500 kg of electronic waste to France for incineration in the hope of importing the technology and achieving self-sufficiency.

Currently, there are 47 toxic chemicals and pesticides produced in Iran and handled within the scope of the Rotterdam Convention and 26 organic pollutants within the framework of the Stockholm Convention. Hazardous waste is transported and managed according to the stipulations of the Basel Convention and under the auspices of the DoE and affiliated organizations, Motesadi maintained.

“Production and import of certain toxic substances are banned in the country and developing nations including Iran must not submit to the pressure from developed nations such as Canada that is desperate to export asbestos (a mineral fiber) to lesser developed countries while it would never consume the material within its own boundaries,” he noted, stressing that developing nations “must not sacrifice health for lesser benefits.”