Friday, 20 May 2016

PCBs – A TOXIC THREAT! Safeguarding Human Health and the Environment

Polychlorinated Biphenyls or PCBs, are a group of man-made, organic chemicals that are highly unreactive and largely resistant to breakdown causing them to persist in the environment. Due to this chemical stability they have a range of applications including as: coolants and insulating fluids in electrical equipment such as transformers, capacitors and fluorescent light ballasts, flame-retardants, plasticizers in paints, plastics, and rubber products, as well as in hydraulic equipment, lubricants, carbonless copy paper, adhesives and dyes.

PCB exposure to humans may occur through the consumption of contaminated fish, meat, dairy products or water, absorption through the skin or inhalation of noxious fumes particularly from waste disposal facilities. Electrical appliances and devices older than thirty (30) years may emit PCBs as vapours when they become heated, thereby acting as another potential source of exposure. Additionally, so too are fires, spills and repair or maintenance of PCB containing equipment. The health effects on humans and animals from exposure vary from incidences of skin conditions such as chloracne and rashes, neurological issues, reduced fertility and other reproductive disorders, to more severe problems such as increased risk of cancers of the digestive system, liver, and skin.

As a result of their detrimental characteristics, PCBs have been classified as a Persistent Organic Pollutant or ‘POP’ under the Stockholm Convention, a global treaty adopted in 2001 with the primary objective of restricting and ultimately eliminating the production, use, trade, release and storage of POPs. Trinidad and Tobago became a party to the Stockholm Convention in 2002.

The safe management of PCBs is therefore imperative to reduce its effects on humans and the environment, and to fulfil the obligations under the Stockholm Convention. This can be achieved by:
  • Monitoring equipment for leakages of PCBs. Laboratory analysis can confirm the presence of PCBs.
  • Always using personal protective equipment (PPE) including chemically impervious disposable coveralls, gloves and disposable shoe covers, respirators equipped with organic vapour filters, rubber boots, and safety glasses, as a minimum when handling PCBs to avoid contact with the skin.
  • Following the control measures specific to the type of PCB material being handled.
  • Ensuring the handling of all PCB wastes, and contaminated PPE is undertaken by licenced professionals. Solid and liquid PCB wastes should be placed in sturdy plastic bags and containers respectively, prior to storage in labelled receptacles of high structural integrity.
  •  Disposing of all PCB wastes only at certified disposal facilities. Avoid releasing PCB wastes into the environment (i.e. air, soil or water).
  • Testing PCB storage sites for potential contamination and having certified personnel remediate them accordingly.
       PCBs are harmful chemicals that require special care during handling and disposal. As such, their environmentally sound management is critical for safeguarding human health, protecting the environment and reducing, or ultimately eliminating the threats they pose.

Written by the Ministry of Planning and Development 

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Interested in Renewable Energy?

Join us for an Information Expo and Tour of Renewable Energy Initiatives of the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) on June 2nd and 3rd between 9:00 am and 4:30 pm at the UTT Point Lisas Campus, Couva. 

Monday, 16 May 2016

Let's do our part to protect the earth, join the green movement

With the assistance of the Environmental Policy Planning Division (EPPD), we have launched a Green Office Initiative throughout the Ministry of Planning and Development. This initiative seeks to make staff more environmentally conscious and encourage them to adopt simple habits that can reduce the harmful effects of our activities on the earth. Conservation of electricity, water as well as recycling are high on our list of priorities. Recycling stations have been set up on many of our floors and to share this great message with you we have created a short video on the right way to recycle plastic, click play above to view.

Let us know how you are doing your part to protect the environment in the comments section below.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Efforts to reduce Trinidad and Tobago's Carbon Footprint

Centre DPS Beverly Khan of the Ministry of Planning and Development hands over the Refrigerant Recovery Units to (Left) Sookdeo Bachan of RRRA (to her right) Vernon Ramjattan of SORAC and Kenneth Boodoo of ARIA
Reducing Trinidad & Tobago’s Carbon footprint was at the centre of a handover ceremony on Wednesday May 11th, 2016. Refrigerant Recovery Equipment was given to three local institutions. The Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Planning and Development officiated the handing over ceremony which took place at Tower C at the International Waterfront Complex.
Trinidad and Tobago has already experienced subtle changes in our climate as evidenced by a hotter and longer than usual dry season, which has in turn affected local water availability and agricultural production. Within recent years, special measures have been taken to tackle climate change which have included the signing of multi-lateral agreements and forest and water conservation efforts.
These efforts were taken a bit further when three (3) portable refrigerant recovery units and six (6) recovery cylinders were handed over on Wednesday by the Deputy Permanent Secretary Mrs. Beverly Khan on behalf of the Environmental Policy and Planning Division (EPPD). The School of Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning (SORAC), Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Industry Association (ARIA) as well as The Refrigerant Recovery and Recycling Association (RRRA) were the three institutions chosen for the exercise.
The refrigerant recovery units and recovery cylinders will be used to trap harmful refrigerant gases from entering our atmosphere and safely replace them into their respective units when repairing refrigeration units.
These three institutions were strategically chosen because of their geographic location in the north and south of Trinidad and Tobago. The institutions will loan the refrigerant equipment and train Technicians throughout the country. 
Managing Director Vernon Ramjattan of SORAC expressed his thanks regarding the initiative and he stated, “the equipment allows us to recover and reuse refrigerant gasses and will save the environment.”

Friday, 6 May 2016

Ministry of Planning meets with Chilean Ambassador

Climate Change, South-South Technical Cooperation and Sustainable Development Opportunities High on Agenda at meeting with Chilean Ambassador  

Photo 1: L-R-Chilean Ambassador Fernando Schmidt Ariztía; Chief of the Horizontal South-South Cooperation Division Mr. Eugenio Pössel; Mr. Terry Mohomed, Assistant Director at the Technical Cooperation Unit and Permanent Secretary Mrs. Joanne Deoraj of the  Ministry of Planning and Development.

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago, May 05, 2016
 – Improving south-south cooperation in Trinidad and Tobago and CARICOM was at the center of a meeting with the Chilean Ambassador Fernando Schmidt Ariztía and Chief of the Horizontal South-South Cooperation Division Mr. Eugenio Pössel. This meeting was hosted by Permanent Secretary Mrs. Joanne Deoraj on behalf of the Ministry of Planning and Development at their Port-Of-Spain Head Office. Also present were Mr. Kishan Kumarsingh, Head of the Multilateral Environmental Agreements Unit (MEAU) and Mr. Terry Mohomed, Assistant Director at the Technical Cooperation Unit both of the Ministry of Planning and Development.

The meeting was part of a two-part platform for dialogue aimed at fostering deeper south-south technical cooperation between the two countries and also to generate ideas for future cooperative opportunities for all in the Caribbean. Mr. Eugenio Pössel spoke on taking a sub-regional approach to five (5) key areas of focus; Food Security, Natural Disaster Management, Governance and Corporate Practices, Climate Change and the Triangularization of these and other similar Projects. The consultation concentrated on a discussion between the Ministry and the Chilean Team on south-south technical cooperation and solutions to achieving their respective mandates regarding sustainable development and achievement of their respective sustainable development goals.

Photo 2: L-R-Mr. Kishan Kumarsingh, Head MEAU; Chief of the Horizontal South-South Cooperation Division Mr. Eugenio Pössel; Ambassador Fernando Schmidt Ariztía ; Permanent Secretary Mrs. Joanne Deoraj  and , Mr. Terry Mohomed of the Technical Cooperation Unit.