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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 EU back on track to address global mercury crisis
EU back on track to address global mercury crisis PDF Print
Thursday, 13 October 2016 14:06

Brussels, 13 October, 2016

EU back on track to address global mercury crisis

The European Parliament’s Environment Committee (ENVI) voted this morning (13 October) to strengthen the European Commission’s proposal for a mercury regulation [1]. This moves the EU a step closer towards ratifying the Minamata Convention on Mercury [2].

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) applauded ENVI for playing an important leadership role in taking concrete steps to reduce exposure to this toxic substance that is especially dangerous for the developing nervous system.

Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Zero Mercury Campaign Project Manager, commented:

 “ENVI sent a clear message to the European Commission and EU Member States that it wants to see a robust mercury regulation going beyond the minimal requirements of the Minamata Convention. The EU is getting back on track to address the global mercury crisis. ”

In particular, the committee made it clear that double standards should be avoided and that mercury-added products already prohibited in the EU should not be exported with the risk that they may end up in countries with less stringent mercury management.

ENVI also expressed overwhelming support to phase out mercury in dentistry as the most effective way to prevent dental mercury pollution.

However, the EEB remains concerned with the decision to allow the disposal of solidified mercury waste in above ground facilities as this may pose much higher risks than if it were put underground.

Likewise, the EEB regretted the rejection of amendments to further control mercury emissions in the air and releases to water from the largest emitters[4].

 Christian Schaible, EEB Policy Manager Industrial Production, said:

“The main point source emitters of mercury, namely coal combustion plants, can continue to spit tonnes of mercury into the air until new stricter EU standards are agreed. Decision makers are gambling with environmental and human health protection.”

The EEB will now call on Member States to accept the proposed ENVI amendments that will reduce and eliminate all unnecessary uses and releases of mercury.

For more information, please contact:

Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Zero Mercury Campaign Project Manager, +32 (2) 289 13 01, 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

Philippa Nuttall Jones, EEB Communications Manager, 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 editors:

[1] Adopted amendments include the following:

  •  The export ban on mercury-added products to be aligned with the restrictions already applied within the EU.

  • Mercury in dentistry to be phased out by end 2022, and for children and pregnant women within one year from entry into force of the regulation.

  • Liquid mercury waste must be solidified before disposal.

  • Mercury used in processes as a catalyst or as electrode should be phased out within the 4 years from entry into force of the regulation. Different industries have different deadlines.

  • The export ban should be expanded to include three additional mercury compounds

  • Import of mercury and listed mercury compounds shall be prohibited; import for disposal is permitted, initially until December 2027.

  • Contaminated sites by mercury or its compounds shall be identified and national decontamination strategies shall be adopted by the MS.

 [2] Ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury by the EU

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/mercury/ratification_en.htm

The Minimata Convention on Mercury http://www.mercuryconvention.org

 [3] Mercury and its compounds are highly toxic to humans, especially to the developing nervous system. Mercury transforms to neurotoxic methylmercury, which has the capacity to collect in organisms (bioaccumulate) and to concentrate up food chains (biomagnify), especially in the aquatic food chain – fish, the basic food source for millions of people.

[4]AM 235 was proposing to set a mercury limit with what is achievable by implementing BAT for Large Combustion Plants

[5] EEB calls for an ambitions EU mercury regulation, ENVI, 1st Reading Vote, 13th October 2016, 12/10/2016

EEB voting recommendations for an ambitions EU mercury regulation, ENVI 1st Reading 12/10/2016

Lifting Europe’s Dark cloud , 11/10/2016 and Health and Economic Implications of Alternative Emission Limits for coal fired power plants in the EU, May 2015

EEB proposals to ensure a robust revised EU mercury Regulation (sent to ENVI) – 4 July 2016 NGOs letter to ENVI – Phase out mercury from dentistry in the EU

EEB-WA Memo on Technical advantages of mercury free dentistry