Mitigating the Impact of Hazardous Waste Discharge

Generally, there is the need for the people to develop positive attitude by a way of ensuring appropriate waste disposal, putting in consideration the environment and social dynamics. Individuals must therefore avoid unethical disposal of toxic waste in vantage points such as the drains, onto the ground but disposed of in their regular trash bin. It has been observed that hazardous wastes poured down the drain eventually find their ways to the general water supply which is meant for biodiversity consumptions. Also, wastes poured onto the ground can seep deep into the soil, causing environmental damage. Waste put in home trash can end up at a dump or other disposal centers, where it could damage human environment.

Thus, it becomes paramount for both the federal and state Environmental Protection Agencies to improve on the implementation of their existing toxic wastes disposal policies. They must set up hazardous-waste disposal centres most especially in the cities where both industries and households can accordingly safely dispose harmful substances. To achieve these, a special and telephone number can be created, through which people can phone in for assistance. This system has proven effective in the United States through the effort of its Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Alternatively, special collection days could be designated for every community where residents will be allowed to turn in hazardous items for disposal. Authorities in charge must also specify the types of waste that will be accepted, while also reeling-out implementable and sustainable strategies that are comprehensively tailored to collect, store, and recycle wastes.

However, all hope is not lost yet for Nigeria to emulate the developed societies and institute a sufficient recycling programme for hazardous wastes by borrowing some well-known techniques that have been adopted in these areas, even though, these kinds of structure have been establish by successive governments but fail to achieve the expected goals.

Waste has been converted to useful material as well as transformed to develop economies through treatment to reduce their negative effects on biodiversity. For instance, approved methods of recycling in the United States include burning hazardous waste as a fuel, using it as a fertilizer, or recuperation of usable product. Following this option, US-EPA reported that recycling had saved the economy from nearly 2 million tons of hazardous waste in 2007.

Similarly, the Youth Against Disaster Initiative (YADI), a non-governmental organisation that has always advocated environmental sanity, confirmed that recycling methods also have economic benefit by reducing the amount of raw materials needed in the production of new products.

Another way by which our nation’s hazardous wastes can effectively be manage is for the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) to set up front store centers and depots in different parts of the cities, where the public and mechanic workers can bring in their waste oil for storage before they are safely transported to the appropriate location for reprocessing and recycling.

However, in such instance, the NESREA must put in place adequate formulae to control sewage disposal generated by domestics and industries across the country. For example, engine and lubricant oil are common elements in the daily lives of Nigerians, as they are essential to enable motor engines and industrial equipment to operate.

Apart from NESREA, other regulatory agencies should be mandated to ensure environmentally safety and sound strategy to combat disposal of the generated consumed oil that are carelessly discharged and abandoned in the gutters and roadsides, where they could pose dangerous consequences to biodiversity.

Educational and enlightenment has been regarded as the greatest empowerment of the citizens and commencement of healthy and sustainable environment sanitation. The general public must be properly educated about the collection, storage and disposed programmes including the consequences of careless disposal of toxic wastes in the country. They should be made to understand that ensuring adequate and proper disposal of sewages constitutes part of their civic responsibilities toward the society.

Similarly, the NEMA in collaboration with relevant stakeholders at states and grassroots levels must strengthen their sensitization workshops and establish face-to-face contact programmes with operators of mechanic workshops who are the greatest culprits in the unsafe discharge of used oil, in order to educate and enlighten them on collection and recycle of waste oil.

For operative safety, personnel of the relevant stakeholders at all levels are advised to fully cover their skin and wear gloves and face mark when handling toxic wastes; as it could be extremely detrimental to their health.

Moreover, the relevant stakeholders must make quick efforts to reduce the generation of hazardous wastes; enhance knowledge and information on the economics of prevention and management of hazardous wastes across the country; reduce the impact and cost of industrial development; integrate cleaner production approaches and hazardous waste minimization in all environmental planning; and establish long-term programmes and policies including targets where appropriate for reducing the amount of hazardous waste produced in the manufacturing sector.

Article from Peoples Daily