GEIDE: Improving post-disaster waste management
French Environment and Energy Management Agency, ADEME is a founding member of “Groupe d’expertise et d’intervention déchets”, GEIDE, an association created in 2006 to promote effective post-disaster waste management, assist communities and protect threatened ecosystems.
In December 2004, unusually large tsunamis hit Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India’s southern coasts, the Maldives Islands and Thailand. “It was after this tsunami that the human and environmental protection association ‘Robin des Bois’ (Robin Hood) instigated brainstorming on waste management post-natural or post-industrial disaster”, remembers Élisabeth Poncelet, international project manager for ADEME’s soil and waste Direction. Work to prepare the creation of GEIDE brought together various stakeholders specializing in waste analysis, management, collection, treatment and recycling at the time.
GEIDE was officially born in June 2006. Its founding members included the ‘Robin des Bois’ association, Fédération de la Récupération, du Recyclage et de la Valorisation (FEDEREC), Fédération Nationale des Activités de Dépollution et d’Environnement (FNADE), Fédération Nationale des Syndicats de l’Assainissement et de la maintenance industrielle (FNSA) and ADEME. “ADEME offers GEIDE its expertise in waste and combines the initiatives of the various participants, including manufacturers and local communities”, stresses Elisabeth Poncelet.
GEIDE’s first task was to prepare instructional briefs and guides on simple but effective ways to prevent risks before disaster strikes. Examples include securing vats of heating oil to the floor when flood warnings are issued, installing backwater valves in pipe systems and taking care not to store hospital radioactive products in basements.
NETWORK OF EXPERTS
Besides prevention, GEIDE’s mission is to provide assistance to communities and ecosystems in jeopardy, by mobilizing a network of experts to help civil safety personnel. GEIDE’s initial scope gives priority to mainland France, French overseas territories and neighbouring nations. But GEIDE can respond to requests from national governments farther away.
In fact, one of its first missions involved sending a team of experts to Lebanon in October 2006, to a bombed refinery, thereby keeping a human disaster from becoming an environmental one.