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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)

 
Crematoria PDF Print
Friday, 23 September 2011 15:35

Crematoria

Cremation is increasingly gaining popularity even in societies where religious influence on cremation is not high, due to space limitations for cemeteries. Most of the mercury released during cremation is due to the vaporisation of dental amalgam fillings that contain mercury.

The typical cremation process includes the charging of the coffin and corpse, incineration in the main combustion chamber and, where applicable, final treatment in the afterburning chamber. Most cremation furnaces are fired using oil or natural gas, although some operate on electricity.

Most crematoria around the world still have no controls on emissions, although legislation is increasing because for instance in theNetherlands, the average number of fillings is expected to increase from 3.2 to 5.1 during the period 1995-2020 (OSPAR, 2002). This means that the emissions from cremations in theNetherlandswill double between 2002 and 2020, unless abatement measures are introduced.

In theUK it has been calculated that by 2020 crematoria will be by far the largest single contributor to mercury emissions (just over 25% of theUKmercury emissions to air) unless action is taken (AEA, 2004).

 Relevant legislation and NGO policy work

In the EU

No specific legislation applies at EU level. Individual Member States have adopted national legislation as relevant. More information can be found in the EC Impact assessment report prepared for the EU Mercury Strategy in 2005.

Relevant information can also be found in EEB,EEN, HCWH, Ban Hg WG/MPP publication: "ZERO MERCURY - Key issues and policy recommendations for the EU Strategy on Mercury" [December 2005]

In the UK, industry itself created the Crematoria Abatement Mercury Emissions Organisation (CAMEO) scheme, a crematoria abatement system scheme. This is a burden-sharing scheme where all members pay per cremation, then receive payment per abatement. This scheme also enabled a phased approach which was not in government recommendations with targets: by 2008, 10% of cremations abated, by 2010, 20% and by 2012, 50%.

EEB-HEAL-ZMWG organised a Conference on "Dental Sector as a source of mercury contamination"  May 25, 2007,Brussels, Belgium, which included a presentation fromUK authorities on the voluntary agreement on crematoria which is implemented in the UK.

The Report from the conference 'Dental Sector as a Source of Mercury Contamination', Brussels, 25 May 2007, [October 2007] is also available.

 Globally

 Many NGOs are working on the issue from around the world. Mercury Watchdog in the US is one of them: "We understand that cremation is growing choice for responsible citizens across the United States. As with anything that begins to grow in popularity, so does its impact on the surrounding environment. It has recently been reported by the Environmental Protection Agency that mercury pollution from crematoria reached 6613 lbs in 2005. This site began in response to a request from a local funeral home. They requested a zoning change allowing the addition of cremation equipment. Concerned neighbors began to ask questions that no one could answer. Questions like: Is this safe for my children? How close is too close? Why don’t funeral homes remove dental amalgam and dispose of it separately? Once it enters our environment in the form of vapor, mercury is virtually impossible to recover. We do know that modern filtration equipment can drastically reduce what reaches our environment.  We feel that funeral home operators should do everything within their ability to prevent the introduction of mercury into the environment at the source. At this time, the removal of dental amalgam and stack filtration are viable solutions. "

For more information, see:  http://www.mercurywatchdog.com