A range of redundant chemicals are among the historical liabilities retained by ZCCM Investments Holdings Plc after the Government of the Republic of Zambia decided to privatize Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines Ltd. For several years, assorted organic and inorganic chemicals were stored on shelves in ZCCM's laboratories. The chemicals have now expired and require disposal in an environmentally sound manner.
COWI A/S has been awarded the contract to classify the chemical waste and prepare bidding documents for packaging, transfrontier shipment and disposal. COWI will undertake the assignment in collaboration with the KV3, South Africa and COWI Zambia.
Characterisation of chemicals
The overall objective of the project is to characterise the redundant chemicals, which comprise redundant chemical reagents, metallurgical process chemicals and mercury vapour lamps, in addition to other chemicals. The characterisation work is complicated by the fact that not all chemicals carry labels and some are known to be hazardous while others are unknown. Therefore, the characterisation includes establishing the toxicity of the chemicals.
Determining the disposal methodThe continued storage of the chemicals poses a significant adverse threat to human health and to the environment due to the inadequacy in their containment and storage and due to leakages. The characterisation and inventory of the chemicals will help determine the disposal method, which could range from disposal at an approved landfill to incineration at an approved facility preferably in the South African region.
It is estimated that the chemicals, which are being temporarily stored at the Radiation Waste Storage Building in Kalulushi, comprise two tonnes of chemicals in solid form, 700 litres of liquids and 39 chemicals most in solid form whose weight is unknown.