Case Study 4: The ANDE Fire, Paraguay, 2015
A fire took place at a transformer depot facility in Paraguay on the 14th of October 2015 in a densely populated metropolitan area 11 km from the capital Asuncion. The fire affected approximately two hectares of the site and equipment including stored transformers, capacitors and other materials that may contain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which can generate a large amount of dioxins and furans, was affected by the blaze. On the 23rd of October 2015 the Minister/Executive Secretary of the Paraguay Ministry of Environment officially requested the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions for technical assistance and guidance to assess the effects of the event and to appropriately deal with the resulting waste. As a result a team was assembled and sent to Paraguay (on the 9th to 22nd of November 2015) to assess the situation, evaluate the extent of the environmental risk to the fire-affected sites, including the associated runoff, leaks, spills and waste, and provide recommendations for the management of the waste resulting from the incident. The team also evaluated the human health risks at the sites affected by the fire and provided guidance for reducing future risks. A summary of this incident, the assessment that followed and recommendations made are presented here.