SHEVCHENKOVE, Ukraine, 1 June 2012 - The third shipment of 715 tonnes of a toxic rocket fuel component, stored in deteriorating containers in eastern Ukraine, was safely loaded onto 14 railways tanks for disposal today as part of an OSCE-supported project.
A train carrying the dangerous substance, known as mélange, left today from the military base near Shevchenkove village in the Kharkiv region for a specialized chemical plant in Russia, where it will be safely disposed of. In total, 2,000 tonnes of mélange have been removed from the Kharkiv region ahead of the European football championship to be hosted by Ukraine and Poland this summer.
“Ensuring the removal of melange from the most badly deteriorating storage tanks in Shevchenkove before thousands visit for the European football championship was our priority. Having successfully achieved this important milestone, we are now looking forward to removing all remaining melange stocks in co-operation with the Defence Ministry, the contractor and OSCE donors by the end of 2012,” said OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier.
Mélange was widely used in the armed forces of the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies to propel short- and medium-range rockets. Of the 16,000 tonnes of mélange originally left in Ukraine, 8,923 tonnes have been removed from five military storage sites - Kalynivka, Vinnytsya region; Tsenzhiv, Ivano-Frankivsk region; Radekhiv, Lviv region; Bila Tserkva, Kyiv region; and Shevchenkove, Kharkiv region. The rest of melange from Shevchenkove and the last remaining site, in Lubashivka, Odessa region, will be cleaned up by the end of the year.
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, including fertilizer. All projects steps, including the loading, shipment and disposal of the mélange, are monitored by the OSCE.
The project, implemented by the OSCE Secretariat, will be the largest donor-financed OSCE project to date. Financial support 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 US.