The Virtual Foundation - your donation makes it happen

Reducing Industrial Pollution in Belarus: Applying Environmental Management Systems

Region: Belarus, Central and Eastern Europe
Author: Safari Environmental Society, Belarus
Consortium Member: Brest Environmental Information Center
Status: Needs Funding Budget: $24200 Collected: $0 Needs: $24200
Goal: To improve water quality, especially in western Belarus, eastern Poland and the Baltic Sea region, by significntly reducing pollution from heavy industries
Comment: Through conscious application of environmental management practices, this project will cut the volume of clean water used for industrial purposes in half, and also reduce the toxicity of the heavy metal discharges

Project Need

As is widely known, Belarus was a major assembling point in the industrial system of the USSR. The numerous machine-building industries in Belarus are the main heavy metal polluters of the environment.

Investigations of recent times have shown that cleaning facilities at these types of enterprises in Brest are non-effective, or absent even in principle.It became the norm to introduce extremely dangerous technologies without appropriate protection of the water sources into production cycles. Enterprises do not comply with requirements to reduce discharge of toxic elements along with waste waters. This leads to eventual leaking of toxic elements into drinking water sources, with consequent health hazards.

Project Aim

The first step in solving this most acute environmental problem should be a qualified examination/inspection of these waste-generating enterprises and their cleaning facilities. Introduction of the basic elements of Environmental Management Systems at the enterprises would reduce the consumption of clean water for the technological needs and consequent discharge of toxic elements. This simultaneously would reduce the need for construction of new cleaning facilities (which is all but impossible anyway in the current conditions of severe economic crisis which so heavily struck Belarus). Using the scientific and technological expertise of highly-qualified specialists, rather than large amounts of capital investment, is a logical and feasible method of improving the state of the environment in transitional countries.

Rivers from Belarus drain into the the Baltic and the Black Sea regions. Thus, significantly reducing the discharge of contaminants from Belarussian enterprise will improve environmental conditions in many other countries.

Project Objectives

  1. To greatly decrease the consumption of clean water by heavy industries in the Brest region of Belarus, and consequently also to decrease the volume of waste water requiring treatment
  2. To cut in half the amount of toxic ingredients discharged into waste water.
  3. To decrease three-fold the need for the use of commercial chemicals in waste water treatment, through improvement of the technologies and processes used in the main industrial cycle
  4. To increase the effectiveness and productivity of the existing cleaning facilities; reaching safe levels of heavy metals in waste waters released into the communal cleaning facilities (up to 0.5 mg/l)
Steps to reach the objectives

  1. Studying of the available project, technological and other types of documentation related to waste-generating and relevant cleaning facilities.
  2. Acquaintance with the technological processes leading to toxic waste discharge and the cleaning facilities as well.
  3. Examination of these technological lines and cleaning facilities.
  4. Brain storm for revealing problems and making recommendations on improvement of these lines via introducing elements of environment management systems; decreasing amount of wastes that are to be cleaned; decreasing of volume of toxic elements and getting the highest standards in purification.
  5. Providing of scientific and technological help and supervision on fulfillment of recommendations and actual performance of the enterprises.
Target Group

Time Frame
Time frame: inspection, training, making of recommendations take up to 12 months. Extra 6 months are needed for implementation and putting into practice of the recommendations and getting changes in actual performance of the enterprise. The project will be implemented over 18 months. This time-frame includes measurements of changes in water use and pollution levels, as explained below.

Information about the Organization and Personnel Implementing this Project

The Safari Environmental Society was created in 1992. It is staffed with very competent specialists who elaborated water-protection systems for the biggest enterprises like “Kirov Plant” in St.-Petersburg, Moscow Aviation Plant, etc. Effectiveness of the technologies elaborated by Safari was confirmed by Hoffland Environmental (USA) in 1997.


Comments on our Methods

The main decrease of pollution levels and wastewater discharge is reached as a result of minor upgrading of the equipment combined with strict enforcement of the technological discipline.

Our experience has shown that these particular questions of environmental performance of enterprises in the USSR and later its descendants were and have been almost totally ignored or regarded as a second-class of importance. This resulted in unjustified high volumes of clean water usage for the technological needs and high levels of pollution in wastewater.

Reasons for increased levels of toxic elements in wastewater:
When details are taken off the technological reservoir, they are not kept above it for 15 seconds period (following this requirement would allow dropping down of 80 % of the technological solution (electrolyte). This problem can be solved via appropriate programming of automatic devices or introducing special fittings when manual control is in place.

A considerable decrease of the electrolyte “taken away” with details can be reached by adding surface active substances into solution. As a result of lessening of surface tension it is possible to decrease amount of chromium getting into wastewater as much as 2 times. Great attention should be given to a problem of positioning details in the galvanic reservoirs. If this point is neglected details may catch a portion of the solution like a mug does and consequently take it to the rinsing baths. This approach also serves to significant decreasing of the amount of pollutants in wastewater.

Reasons for over-usage of clean water for technological needs:
Construction of the piping systems at many rinsing baths is wrong – i.e. water inflows at the upper level and is taken away at the same level. There are no barriers that direct water into the lower part of the baths and stirring with the compressed air as well at the most of enterprises. In these conditions it is necessary to increase the volume of clean water significantly to reach a satisfactory level of the details’ cleaning. According to the acting standards of use of water it is necessary to spend 1000 L to ensure complete rinsing of 1 m2 of the details’ surface. Our experience has shown that this number may be decreased to 50 L.

The following official representatives of major enterprises have demonstrated their readiness to co-operate with “Safari” by signing Protocols of Intentions:

Representatives of these enterprises will actively participate during the process of inspection of the systems leading to discharge generation. After this inspection a specific training plan aimed at increasing of skills and awareness of workers and managers in the field of environment protection elaborated with participation of both sides should be adopted. The training strategy is based on principles fixed in ISO 14000 standards.

After an inspection a set of recommendations on technological improvements and introducing EMS elements at the main technology cycle and cleaning facilities will be given to the managers of the enterprise. Its implementation will be carried out under supervision of “Safari”.

Indicators and means of verification of the project's successful implementation at each particular enterprise include:

The requested financing is necessary mainly for functioning of the team of specialists.
Business-trips: $1200
Participation at conferences, seminars: $ 200
Honoraria, fees to the team of specialists (10 persons x 12 months): $18,000
Office equipment, rent of analytical equipment: $1600
Office rent, communication, purchasing of necessary books: $1000
Subtotal: $22,000
Virtual Foundation adminstrative fee: $2200
Total Requested from the Virtual Foundation: $24,200