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22 September 2017

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PRESS RELEASE: 

New treaty effectiveness will depend on adequacy of data to be collected, say NGOs  

Geneva, Switzerland


Prior to the start of the first Conference of Parties (COP1), the Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) welcomed the entry into force of the Minamata Convention. 

“While there are alternatives to mercury, there are no alternatives to global cooperation,” said Michael Bender, international ZMWG coordinator. “We applaud the world’s governments for committing to curtail 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.
 
During the prior negotiations, the Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee (INC) approved many of the forms and guidance that the Convention specifies must be adopted at COP 1, which are needed for the swift and smooth launch and running of the Convention.  These include guidance documents on identifying stocks, determining best available technologies and reducing mercury use in small scale gold mining; as well as forms for trade procedures and for exemptions from certain deadlines.

“These INC approvals were achieved by consensus after considerable deliberations, and are ready for approval without further debate,” said Satish Sinha, Toxics Link India.

Among the most critical open issues to be discussed at COP1 are the reporting requirements, which will provide critical information on both the global mercury situation and the effectiveness of the Convention in achieving mercury reductions.   Particularly critical to collect will be data on mercury production and trade, which can change significantly in a short period of time.

 “Countries will not have readily available information about production and trade in bordering countries or within their region, unless there is frequent reporting under the Convention,” said David Lennett, Senior Attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council “Many borders between countries are “porous,” and where a significant portion of mercury trade is informal/illegal.   Good data on legal trade flows will enable actions to address illegal trade, all of which has a huge impact on artisanal and small scale gold mining, the largest source of mercury pollution globally.

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

For more information, see:

http://www.mercuryconvention.org

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

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

For information on reporting, please contact David Lennett, Natural Resources Defense Council, T:  +1 202 460 8517   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

For further information, please contact:

*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.



 

Home Press Releases Groups Blast Space Start-up for Pedaling Mercury Satellites Thrusters; Urge potential customers to t...
Groups Blast Space Start-up for Pedaling Mercury Satellites Thrusters; Urge potential customers to take the pledge not to use dangerous neurotoxin PDF Print
Thursday, 20 December 2018 16:59

 

zeromercury WG_logo

20/12/2018

Groups Blast Space Start-up for Pedaling Mercury Satellites Thrusters;

Urge potential customers to take the pledge not to use dangerous neurotoxin

The Zero Mercury Working Group and NGOs from around the globe are blasting Apollo Fusion, Inc. for pedaling mercury thruster technology to propel satellites because, if widely applied, the resulting pollution will have direct implications on the global environment.    They are also urging potential customers—Space X, OneWeb and Planet Labs—to publicly pledge not to use this dangerous neurotoxin in their satellites, even though it’s the cheapest propellant on the market.

“While marketing ‘cost savings’ from mercury to propel satellites, Apollo fails to recognize the costs, risks and impacts of a new mercury source on human health and the environment,” said Michael Bender, International Co-coordinator of the Zero Mercury Working Group in Montpelier, VT, USA. “This flies in the face of not only U.S., but global efforts, to reduce mercury pollution.

The group’s letter explains that the U.S. and other governments around the world have already expended millions of dollars to regulate and reduce mercury emissions from major sources.  That’s because mercury is a very dangerous neurotoxin that circulates globally in the atmosphere and ultimately makes its way up the aquatic food chain bioaccumulating in humans.  US FDA, all 50 state health departments and health ministries worldwide warn pregnant women to avoid or limit consumption of many types fish primarily because of mercury contamination.

“Most of the mercury emitted from satellite propulsion systems will eventually find its way back to the earth’s surface according to numerous studies of the long-range transport of mercury,” said Jane Williams, Executive Director of California Communities Against Toxics. “If mercury is widely used to propel satellites, the resulting releases would significantly increase the global pool of mercury in the atmosphere and hydrosphere.”

Going against the grain and the general understanding for decades that mercury was considered ‘a dead fuel’—for many good reasons— Apollo Fusion, a Silicon Valley startup company, appears intent on exploiting the lack of regulatory restrictions on mercury in space.  For example, in the 1970s, NASA recognized the risks related to mercury fuels in satellites and chose other options - even though NASA recognized mercury was cheaper to use. 

“The Minamata Convention on Mercury seeks to reduce, and where feasible, eliminate all uses of mercury where technically-achievable mercury-free alternatives are available,”  said Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, ZMWG International Co-coordinator at the  European Environmental Bureau in Brussels.   “In the case of satellite propulsion systems, mercury-free alternatives have been available and almost universally used for decades.”

Accordingly, as part of the upcoming COP3 review of the Minamata Convention on Mercury next November, the groups intend to raise the use of mercury as a propellant for inclusion in the list of prohibited mercury-added products under the Convention’s Article 4.

Finally, Bender notes that the export of pre-fueled thrusters to international launch facilities  may violate the Mercury Export Ban Act of 2008, which prohibits, under the Toxic Substances Control Act (15 U.S.C. § 2611(c)(1)), “the export of elemental mercury from the United States.”

The second UN Conference of the Parties met in Geneva last month to further the Minamata Convention’s objective “to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds.” Thus far, over 100 countries (with the U.S. being the first) have ratified the Convention, which entered into force in August 2017.  Yet much more mercury reduction work is needed, because according to an upcoming UN report, global mercury emissions rose by 20% between 2010 and 2015.

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Contact: 

Michael Bender, Telephone: 802-917-8222; email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

For more information:

http://www.zeromercury.org/index.php?option=com_phocadownload&;view=file&id=261:ngo-open-letter-to-apollo-mercury-use-as-satelite-propulsion-fuel&Itemid=15

https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/press-release/countries-meet-address-mercury-global-emissions-rise-20

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-11-19/this-space-startup-could-lace-the-atmosphere-with-toxic-mercury?utm_medium=email&;utm_source=newsletter&utm_term=181121&utm_campaign=climatechanged

http://web.unep.org/globalmercurypartnership/global-mercury-assessment

https://www.peer.org/news/press-releases/mercury-may-reach-orbit-through-regulatory-blindspot.html

http://www.zeromercury.org/