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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 Trouble in store. EU must safely manage excess mercury.
Trouble in store. EU must safely manage excess mercury. PDF Print
Tuesday, 12 June 2007 01:00

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(Brussels, 12 June, 2007) – June is a key month in the campaign to protect the world from the scourge of highly toxic mercury. Anti-mercury campaigners throughout Europe urged EU decision- makers to ensure excess mercury is held in secure, constantly monitored sites. On 13 June, the EU countries’ Permanent Representatives will discuss the proposal in preparation for a possible agreement at the Environment Council on 28 June, and the European Commission will present its opinion on amendments proposed by the European Parliament’s Environment Committee, before Parliament votes on the issue on 19-20 June.

“The Environment Ministers’ Council, the Commission and Parliament must get in step with Parliament’s Environment Committee”, said Elena Lymberidi of EEB’s Zero Mercury campaign. “All three institutions must agree soon on requiring the safe and constantly-monitored temporary storage of surplus mercury stocks. There is no ‘bury and forget’ option: the only safe solution for the moment is to keep a constant eye on this pernicious substance, since as yet there are no safe final disposal methods available.”

Campaigners fear that unless the necessary steps are taken, individual EU governments might try to dispose of highly volatile liquid mercury in unsafe places like old mines, where there is a strong risk of its leaching out over time into water supplies and the air. A European Directive which prohibits final disposal of liquid waste in landfills has been in place since 1999.

Campaigners also want to see a ban on exporting mercury compounds and mercury-containing items whose sale is banned in the EU.

“It’s not just a question of controlling pure mercury”, said Lisette van Vliet of Health Care Without Harm. ”If the export ban doesn’t include mercury compounds or mercury-containing products which are already banned from sale in Europe, we’ll be overlooking a major source of Europe’s contribution to global mercury contamination”. Compounds represent a high proportion of the world’s mercury use, and mercury can be profitably recovered from compounds including calomel, mercuric oxide, mercuric chloride and other organo-mercury compounds.

NGOs in developing countries are very concerned. “Historically, when a hazardous product is restricted, phased-out or banned in Europe, it’s often exported to developing countries where awareness of the problem is often relatively low, and regulations and/or enforcement are often lax or non-existent”, said Veronica Odriozola, Director of Health Care Without Harm Latin America.

 

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_text4879 ); 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:-

Letter to Commissioners: NGOs call for a wide reaching mercury export ban and safe storage of surplus mercury, [8 June 2007] http://www.zeromercury.org/EU_developments/070608NGOsletterto%20Commissioners.pdf

Letter to Environment Ministers: NGOs call for a wide reaching mercury export ban and safe storage of surplus mercury, [6 June 2007]

http://www.zeromercury.org/EUdevelopments/070606NGOs'%20Letter%20to%20Env%20Mins%20Export%20B an.pdf