Guinea – PCB Cleanup and Removal

the details…
Key pollutant
PCBs
Source
Abandoned PCB capacitors
Pathway
  • Water
  • Soil
  • Direct contact
Population affected
5,000
Children Under 6 Affected
1,000
DALYs averted
477
Industry
Energy
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The Problem

Abandoned PCB capacitors from France, England, Germany and the US have contaminated approximately 3 acres in the center of Conakry. There have been significant observed impacts on human health and the environment because the water is entirely saturated with PCB waste. The black PCB oil runs directly through the site into a shallow channel that empties into the ocean. The site is within 100 yards of a village that relies on the water for drinking, cooking and bathing.

Health Impact

The most commonly observed health effects in people exposed to large amounts of PCBs are skin conditions such as acne and rashes. Studies in exposed workers have shown changes in blood and urine that may indicate liver damage. PCB exposures in the general population are not likely to result in skin and liver effects. Most of the studies of health effects of PCBs in the general population examined children of mothers who were exposed to PCBs.

Animals that ate food containing large amounts of PCBs for short periods of time had mild liver damage and some died. Animals that ate smaller amounts of PCBs in food over several weeks or months developed various kinds of health effects, including anemia; acne-like skin conditions; and liver, stomach, and thyroid gland injuries. Other effects of PCBs in animals include changes in the immune system, behavioral alterations, and impaired reproduction. PCBs are not known to cause birth defects. (ATSDR – ToxFAQs™)

Project Activity

Two experts from the Ministry of Environment were assigned to meet with relevant representatives of the Electricity Company of Guinea. As a result of various discussions, the training need was assessed. The training materials have been developed and 15 EDG personnel have been selected.

Outcome

Because of political turmoil in the country, no PCB container has yet been constructed.