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New treaty’s entry into force set to curtail global mercury crisis, say NGOs

BRUSSELS - 16 AUGUST 2017
TODAY’S ENTRY INTO FORCE OF THE MINAMATA CONVENTION ESTABLISHES THE FIRST NEW MULTILATERAL ENVIRONMENTAL AGREEMENT IN OVER A DECADE.  THE ZERO MERCURY WORKING GROUP* HAS BEEN CALLING FOR A LEGALLY BINDING TREATY FOR OVER A DECADE AND WELCOMES THE NEW PROTOCOL.

“While there are alternatives to mercury, there are no alternatives to global cooperation,” said Michael Bender, coordinator of the Zero Mercury Working Group. “Mercury respects no boundaries and exposes people everywhere”
“Only a global pact can curtail this dangerous neurotoxin.”

In October 2013 the convention text was adopted and signed by 128 countries, but would not take legal effect until at least 50 countries had ratified it formally.  This milestone was reached in May of this year, and the convention enters into force today 16 August. 

“We are now on the right track,” said Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Manager, European Environmental Bureau and ZMWG co- coordinator. 

“Over time, the Convention is expected to provide the necessary technical and financial resources to reduce the risk of exposure to mercury worldwide. Governments must therefore move swiftly towards efficient implementation of the Treaty’s provisions”.

The aim of the Convention is "to protect the human health and the environment” from mercury releases.

The treaty holds critical obligations for Parties to ban new primary mercury mines while phasing out existing ones and also includes a ban on many common products and processes using mercury, measures to control releases, and a requirement for national plans to reduce mercury in artisanal and small-scale gold mining.  In addition, it seeks to reduce trade, promote sound storage of mercury and its disposal, address contaminated sites and reduce exposure from this dangerous neurotoxin.

The First Conference of the Parties will take place from 24 to 29 September 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland.  Over 1,000 delegates and around 50 ministers are expected to assemble in Geneva to celebrate and lay the groundwork for the treaty’s overall effectiveness.

The Minamata Convention joins 3 other UN conventions seeking to reduce impacts from chemicals and waste – the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.

ENDS 

For more information, see:

http://www.mercuryconvention.org/Negotiations/COP1/tabid/5544/language/en-US/Default.aspx

www.zeromercury.org

Contacts 

Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Coordinator ‘Zero Mercury Campaign’, European Environmental Bureau, ZMWG International Coordinator
T: +32 2 2891301,  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " data-mce-href="mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Michael Bender, ZMWG International Coordinator, T: +1 802 917 8222,   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it " data-mce-href="mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Notes to the editors:

Mercury is a global pollutant that travels long distances. Its most toxic form – methylmercury - accumulates in large predatory fish and is taken up in our bodies through eating fish, with the worst impacts on babies in utero and small children. 

*The Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) is an international coalition of over 95 public interest environmental and health non-governmental organizations from more than 50 countries from around the world formed in 2005 by the European Environmental Bureau and the Mercury Policy Project.  ZMWG strives for zero supply, demand, and emissions of mercury from all anthropogenic sources, with the goal of reducing mercury in the global environment to a minimum.  Our mission is to advocate and support the adoption and implementation of a legally binding instrument which contains mandatory obligations to eliminate where feasible, and otherwise minimize, the global supply and trade of mercury, the global demand for mercury, anthropogenic releases of mercury to the environment, and human and wildlife exposure to mercury.

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) is Europe's largest network of environmental citizens’ organisations, standing for environmental justice, sustainable development and participatory democracy. Our experts work on climate change, biodiversity, circular economy, air, water, soil, chemical pollution, as well as policies on industry, energy, agriculture, product design and waste prevention. We are also active on overarching issues as sustainable development, good governance, participatory democracy and the rule of law in Europe and beyond.

We have over 140 members in over 30 countries.

EC register for interest representatives: Identification number 06798511314-27
International non-profit association - Association internationale sans but lucratif (AISBL)

 
Home Press Releases Red card for mercury! Time for a total ban
Red card for mercury! Time for a total ban PDF Print
Monday, 19 June 2006 01:00
eeb_logozeromercury_logohealth_care_without_harm_logoeen_logoban_hg_logo

(Brussels, 19 June 2006) - At a conference today, environmental and health NGOsi demanded a total mercury export ban to take effect by 2008 at the latest, and that surplus mercury be securely stored in perpetuity. They pressed the Commission urgently to present a proposal to regulate mercury. NGOs also called for the Directive restricting the use of all measuring and control equipment containing mercury to be broadened. There is no safe level for mercury. Immediate measures are therefore needed to eliminate it.

“Anti-mercury NGOs insist that the export ban should apply to the widest possible range of mercury-based substances, including compounds and products containing mercury”, said Elena Lymberidi, ‘Zero Mercury Campaign’ Project Coordinator at the European Environmental Bureau. “The EU’s double standard must change”, said Michael Bender, of the Ban Mercury Working Group. “Allowing both the continued export of feedstock for major uses of mercury, and products containing mercury, increases the risk that people and the environment in non-EU countries are exposed to mercury and mercury pollution, while EU citizens are protected.”

It is estimated that converting liquid mercury into a compound, before converting it back to elemental mercury once it has left the EU, costs about US$200 per flask. At the current market price of about $600 or more per flask, unscrupulous traders could take advantage of the “mercury compound loophole”, convert the mercury to a compound for export, have it converted back to elemental mercury outside the EU, and still make a profit. Only recently, the price of mercury was just $200 a flask.

NGOs have demanded the establishment of a tracking system to monitor the import, export and intra-EU transport of metallic mercury and its compounds, plus a review of ways in which the scope of the ban and mercury storage can be extended, ahead of the effective export ban deadline.

In view of the 20 June Council Working Group meeting on the issue, environmental and health NGOs are urging the Council to strengthen the Commission’s proposed restriction on the use and marketing of measuring and control equipment containing mercury. “All consumer and professional uses should be included in the restriction, with special focus on blood pressure measuring devices in hospitals, with exemptions for only a limited period and only where alternatives don’t exist,” said Karolina Ruzickova, of Health Care Without Harm. “Hospitals in many EU countries are already becoming mercury-free. There are serious occupational hazards for healthcare workers who are in contact with leaking or broken devices. Mercury waste management is expensive and creates potential risks for mercury emissions in the environment.” The European Parliament’s March 2006 resolution called for a wider scope including the restriction of health-care equipment containing mercury.


For more information please refer to:-

Link to conference agenda: http://www.zeromercury.org/EUdevelopments/060619-BXL-conference.html

Link to: Zero Mercury – key issues and policy recommendations for the EU strategy on mercury http://www.zeromercury.org/ZeroMercuryPolicyPaperEN.pdf

Elena Lymberidi, Zero Mercury Campaign Project Coordinator, EEB: www.zeromercury.org; www.eeb.org; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ;

Tel: +32 (0)2 289 1301

Peter Clarke, Press Officer, EEB: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ;Tel: +32 (0)2 289 1309

Karolina Ruzickova, Health Care Without Harm Europe: www.noharm.org; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Tel: +410 222 78 14 71

Genon K. Jensen, EPHA Environment Network (EEN): www.env-health.org ; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text5649 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; Tel: +32 (0)2 2333875

Michael Bender, Ban Mercury Working Group: www.ban.org/Ban-Hg-Wg/ This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text81140 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; Tel: +1 802 2239000

i The European Environmental Bureau, (EEB), www.eeb.org, is a federation of more then 140 environmental citizens’ organisations based in all EU Member States and most Accession Countries, as well as in a few neighbouring countries. These organisations range from local and national, to European and international. The aim of the EEB is to protect and improve the environment of Europe and to enable the citizens of Europe to play their part in achieving that goal.

The Zero Mercury Working group, www.zeromercury.org, is an international coalition of more than 40 public interest non-governmental organizations from around the world formed initially in 2004 by the European Environmental Bureau and the Mercury Policy Project/Ban Mercury Working Group. The aim of the group is to reach “‘Zero’ emissions, demand and supply of mercury, from all sources we can control, in view of reducing to a minimum, mercury in the environment at EU level and globally.”

The Ban Mercury Working Group, www.ban.org/Ban-Hg-Wg/, is an international coalition of 27 public interest non-governmental organisations from around the world formed initially in 2002 by 2 US based NGOs, the Basel Action Network (www.ban.org) and the Mercury Policy Project (www.Mercurypolicy.org). working to end pollution from the toxic metal -- Mercury.

European Public Health Alliance Environment Network (EEN), http://www.env-health.org/ is an international non-governmental organisation advocating environmental protection as a means to improving health and well-being. Member groups and organisations represent health, environment, women, health professionals and others. The group has a diverse membership, 29 members with 5 international organisations, 10 European networks and 14 national/local organisations, including non-governmental organisations, professional bodies representative of doctors and nurses, academic institutions and other not-for-profit organisations.

Health Care Without Harm Europe (HCWH), www.noharm.org, is an international coalition of hospitals and health care systems, medical and nursing professionals, community groups, health-affected constituencies, labour unions, and environmental and environmental health organisations. HCWH is dedicated to transforming the health care industry worldwide, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it is ecologically sustainable and no longer a source of harm to public health and the environment.

And with the support of NGOs from the USA (Natural Resources Defence Council), India (Toxics Link), China (Global Village of Beijing), Brazil (Association for Combats against the POPS).