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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 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_text32933 ); 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