How to safely dispose of toxic chemicals used in the illicit manufacture of drugs
Bangkok (Thailand), 4 October 2010 - From 20 to 22 September 2010, UNODC convened an expert working group meeting in Bangkok that was attended by representatives of partner States in East Asia and the Pacific with expertise in hazardous materials handling, environmental science, forensic sciences and law enforcement.
Laboratory and Scientific Section played a big part in the meeting, which was supported by the European Union and Australia.
With increasing seizures of tons of chemicals destined for the illicit manufacture of drugs in the region, authorities are concerned about how to safely dispose of toxic chemicals in a way that is environmentally responsible , particularly in countries without appropriate infrastructure. Of great concern is the difficulty of disposing of chemicals such as safrole-rich oils, which are also responsible for the extensive depletion of forests.
At the latest Meeting of Heads of National Law Enforcement Agencies, Asia and the Pacific, which was held on Bali, Indonesia, Governments were called upon to support increased regional cooperation between their law enforcement, forensic sector and chemical control authorities and to ensure the safe and environmentally friendly approach for the disposal of seized chemicals and products of clandestine laboratories.
The expert working group meeting in Bangkok was convened in response to this request with the overall aim of revising existing UNODC guidelines for
the safe handling and disposal of chemicals used in the illicit manufacture of drugs. The expert group was asked to include new, practical and cost-effective methods and detailed guidance in relation to all aspects of the chemical disposal process from site selection and set-up to means for destroying the substances.
In his opening address, UNODC representative for East Asia and the Pacific, Gary Lewis, challenged participants to produce guidelines that would be "future-proof" and cost-effective to implement.
The revised guidelines provided should enable Member States to understand and enact the procedures outlined for the safe handling and environmentally responsible management of seized chemicals. The experts made a number of recommendations designed to aid Member States in developing sustainable regional capacity to deal with seizures of drugs and precursors seized resulting from the anticipated increase in clandestine laboratory seizures.
The recommendations, which address key issues such as legislation, establishment of a regional resource centre, training and mentoring of personnel, will be presented at the next Meeting of Heads of National Law Enforcement Agencies, Asia and the Pacific, to be held in Bangkok in November 2010.