SHEVCHENKOVE, Ukraine, 4 April 2012 - The first shipment of a toxic rocket fuel component stored in deteriorating containers at a military base in Eastern Ukraine was safely loaded on to 14 railways tanks today as part of an OSCE-supported project.
A train carrying 770 tonnes of the dangerous substance, known as mélange, left today from the military base near Shevchenkove village in Kharkiv region for Russia, for its safe disposal in a specialized chemical plant.
The Shevchenkove site is one of six mélange stockpiles left in Ukraine following the Cold War and the fifth to be cleaned up under the OSCE project. Mélange was widely used in the armies of the former Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact to propel short- and medium-range rockets.
The removal of the first batch of mélange from the military depot near Shevchenkove marks the beginning of the elimination of the substance from Eastern and South Ukraine. In total, 2000 tonnes of mélange stored in most precarious storage tanks will be removed from the region prior to the UEFA EURO 2012 football championship. The removal of the remaining stocks is planned to be completed by the end of this year.
Before the project started, Ukraine had 16,000 tones of mélange. To date 6,922 tonnes of mélange have been removed from four military storages: Kalynivka, Vinnytsya region, Tsenzhiv, Ivano-Frankivsk region, Radekhiv, Lviv region and Bila Tserkva, Kyiv region. Chemical plants in Dzerzhinsk and Biysk in the Russian Federation have disposed of this hazard in a process that produces chemical products for civilian use, such as paint components. All projects steps, including the loading, shipment and disposal of the mélange, are monitored by the OSCE.
The project, implemented by the OSCE Secretariat, is set to become the OSCE largest donor-financed project so far. Financial support for the mélange disposal project has been provided by the following OSCE participating States: the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden (Swedish International Development and Co-operation Agency) and the United States of America.