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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 mercury export ban advances, safer liquid mercury storage now being considered
EU mercury export ban advances, safer liquid mercury storage now being considered PDF Print
Thursday, 28 June 2007 01:00
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(Brussels/Luxembourg, 28 June, 2007) - Anti-mercury campaigners today expressed mixed feelings at the outcome of the Environment Council’s ruling on the movement and handling of mercury. Environment ministers from the EU’s 27 national governments were meeting to decide on the European Commission’s proposed regulation on banning mercury exports from the EU and ensuring the safe storage of the toxic metal.

“Although we’re glad the legislation is moving forward, we’re disappointed that ministers did nothing to close the loopholes in the mercury export ban,” said Elena Lymberidi, EEB’s ‘Zero Mercury’ campaign project coordinator. “Currently the Council has refused to include mercury compounds in the ban, despite many EU governments supporting such a move. So the door is still wide open for hundreds of tonnes of mercury to be exported indirectly from the EU.”

The Environment Council refused to include in the ban mercury-containing products whose sale is forbidden in the EU. “EU ministers have squandered an excellent chance to halt the export of mercury-containing products to developing countries,” said Lisette van Vliet of Health Care Without Harm Europe. “It’s rank hypocrisy to restrict trade in these products within Europe, but allow them to be exported to our neighbours in the global south.”

The environment ministers kept the implementation date of 1 July 2011 for the export ban, ignoring the European Parliament’s demand for the earlier deadline of 1 December 2010. NGOs had pressed for an even earlier date to prevent toxic mercury exports to developing countries even sooner.

NGOs were cautiously pleased at the Council’s agreement today on the issue of storing mercury. The Council decided that requirements for storage facilities and the criteria to accept storage of liquid metallic mercury must be adopted before any final disposal can occur. The Commission would have to submit a report reviewing research on safe disposal options including the ‘solidification’ of liquid mercury, one year before the export ban start. The Commission then, may present a proposal to revise the regulation as soon as possible and before two years after the ban begins. “At last, environment ministers have realised the danger of already allowing the final disposal of metallic mercury, especially since disposing of liquid waste is explicitly forbidden by the EU Landfill Directive,” said Elena Lymberidi of EEB. Depending on the outcome of the research, permanent underground storage of liquid mercury may still have to be seriously reconsidered. “We’ve got to get the storage issue right. If liquid mercury is just dumped and forgotten, we would be leaving our children a lethal legacy.”

The Environment Council also insisted that the regulation has a legal basis that makes it harder, if not impossible, for individual EU countries to impose stricter national provisions on the export ban.

 

For further information please contact:-

Elena Lymberidi, Project Coordinator, Zero Mercury Campaign:, 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; Mobile: +32 (0)496 532 818

Lisette van Vliet, Toxic Policy Advisor, Health and Environment Alliance / Health Care Without Harm Europe: www.env-health.org; www.noharm.org; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text32742 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; Tel: +32 (0)2 234 3645

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

Mercury is a global pollutant which drifts far across the world. Its most toxic form, methylmercury, accumulates in large predatory fish which we eat, affecting the most vulnerable people, children and pregnant women.

See letters sent to the institutions:-

To the European Parliament (13 June 2007):

http://www.zeromercury.org/EU developments/07061 3NGOsLettertoEP-plenary-Hg-export-ban.pdf

To Environment Committee of the European Parliament (26 April 2007): http://www.zeromercury.org/EUdevelopments/070426NGOS1stReadingENVIHgExportban.pdf

Letter to Commissioners:(8 June 2007) http://www.zeromercury.org/EU_developments/070608NGOsletterto%20Commissioners.pdf

Letter to Environment Ministers (6 June 2007) http://www.zeromercury.org/EUdevelopments/070606NGOs'%20Letter%20to%20Env%20Mins%20Export%2 0Ban.pdf