Over 50 metric tons of contaminated oil used in transformers was incinerated on Friday at Cimerwa in Rusizi district.
The exercise was carried out by Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) in partnership with the Energy Utility and Corporation Ltd (EUCL), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Cimerwa.
Over time oil used in the devices, known as Polychlorinated Biphenyls, PCBs, becomes toxic to both humans and wildlife and remain intact for many years.
PCBs are oily liquids or solids; which are yellow in color, with no smell or taste, very stable mixtures that are resistant to extreme temperatures and pressure.
They also cause cancer in humans such as breast cancer, brain cancer, and liver cancer among others.
The incinerated waste oil was collected from 96 transformers.
According to Eng. Coletha Ruhamya, Director General of Rwanda Environment Management Authority, the drive is part of Rwanda’s efforts to manage and phase out persistent organic pollutants.
“We are working hard to reduce and eliminate hazardous waste to protect the environment and our people. Pollutants like PCBs are very harmful to wildlife and human health and we need to reduce the risks associated,” Ruhamya said.
Rwanda is the second country in Africa to take the move to incinerate the oils after Morroco.
According to REMA officials, there are currently 2,344 transformers in service and 182 in storage, but only 100 transformers are contaminated with PCBs.
Karl Willem Heese, CIMERWA General Manager, said their employees wear protective gear while destroying the transformers.
According to REMA, various people from public and private institutions as well as non-governmental organisations have been trained on the harmful effects of PCBs to human health and environment. They are now equipped with the skills on how to avoid risks linked with PCBs and contaminated equipment.