The GEF has been working to help countries worldwide locate and safely destroy PCBs while promoting effective management through training, public awareness and institutional development. Some early projects have successfully addressed PCB pollution. In many former Soviet republics, for example, governments have the responsibility to dispose of large volumes of abandoned electrical equipment.
As one of the former Soviet Republics, Latvia inherited a network of transformers and capacitors using PCBs. A series of investigations were undertaken to map this equipment, and a project began in 2006 to replace equipment containing PCBs. With the PCB situation largely mapped during the development of the National Implementation Plan, a follow-up project began in 2006 to replace equipment containing PCBs. Through a partnership with the industries holding PCB equipment, proper management and safe disposal abroad have prevented and mitigated the release of PCBs into Latvian soil, waters, and air. Identifying and registering PCB sources have also helped to avoid dioxin emissions from improper disposal.
The project’s initial target to dispose safely of 280 tons of PCB-containing equipment has been more than doubled — today at least 590 tons of PCB equipment (80 percent of the identified PCB equipment in Latvia) from 112 companies will have been safely disposed of within the project.
One success factor was the more than 100 individual meetings with enterprises, high- profile mass media coverage, and three special seminars that dealt with PCB issues among key stakeholders, including PCB holding companies and the State Environmental Service. This public information and training work has significantly facilitated the introduction of safe PCB management and disposal operations.