Firefighters from Humenné started removing barrels containing toxic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from a piggery situated in the former compounds of the Chemko Strážske chemical company.
They are addressing the emergency situation declared in the locality in early 2020.
The main objective of the rescue works is to extract dangerous substances currently situated in the former piggery, load the barrels with the PCBs and contaminated soil, and subsequently place them into containers certified for storing this kind of waste.
“These are hermetically sealed containers from which substances cannot leak into the surrounding environment,” said Environment Minister Ján Budaj (OĽaNO), who visited the site in person on November 5, as quoted by the TASR newswire.
More work to come
The filled containers will be stored in the facility until the Environment Ministry signs a contract with a company capable of disposing of the substances. It could take some two weeks to remove the corroded barrels from the piggery, said Interior Minister Roman Mikulec (OĽaNO).
The Interior Ministry has allocated €500,000 for the rescue works in Chemko Strážske for now.
If the weather allows it, firefighters are expected to start with the elimination of the so-called source, i.e. the place in the nearby enclosure where the currently unknown number of barrels with PCBs and other toxic substances are stored under the ground.
Some barrels are said to be stored safely in the third building, the so-called heating plant, which is why they will be kept there until the firefighters dispose of all other barrels with toxic substances removed from the compounds during the rescue works, TASR reported.
“This is the first step to help people in this region eliminate what has concerned them for years,” Mikulec said, as quoted by TASR.
The government’s promise
The storage of hundreds of tonnes of PCBs in the buildings of the former Chemko Strážske company had not been officially confirmed for years. This happened only after the company went bankrupt in 2009 and the industrial compound underwent state inspection. The state authorities officially confirmed the presence of toxic substances at the site a decade later.
The promise to eliminate the toxic substances near Strážske and the Poša sludge bed is also part of the government’s programme statement.