Today, world governments took the first significant steps towards a Legally Binding Treaty to control mercury pollution at a United Nations Environmental Program meeting in Bangkok, Thailand. Their recommendations (summarized in ZMWG Quick Views) now provide countries with a basis to head into the International Negotiating Committee (INC) meetings starting in Stockholm, June 2010. “We look forward to engaging in focused discussions in areas such as supply, trade and storage of surplus mercury where substantial progress can be made,” said Michael Bender, Director of MPP. For more information, see ZMWG’s press release and briefing notes by IISD.
October 19-23, 2009, Bangkok, Thailand
In preparation of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee’s (INC’s) discussion of a global mercury treaty in 2010, the OEWG is holding information sessions on mercury supply, storage, artisanal and small-scale gold mining, products, and wastes. The OEWG will establish timetables and organization of the INC as well as discuss priorities. MPP’s director, on behalf of Zero Mercury Working Group, presented Mercury Storage-Supply Partnership and Related Initiatives at the OEWG.
October 13-14, 2009, Oxford, UK
The Oxford Workshop was funded by the UK government to consider the scientific and engineering issues associates with safe disposal and storage of redundant mercury. It was organized in preparation for the EU’s ban on exports to take effect in March 2011. MPP’s director, as the interim chair of the UNEP Mercury Storage-supply Partnership, presented, “Mercury Storage-Supply Partnership and Related Initiatives” at this workshop. IKIMP has made the complete presentations available online.
At the request of New York State’s Assembly Committee on Environmental Conservation, MPP provides expert testimony regarding methods to reduce mercury exposure. MPP stressed the state government’s responsibility to reduce and eliminate mercury uses and releases, and also to take steps to protect its population from mercury exposure risks. Recommendations included to (1) expand risk communication for consumption of high-mercury fish, (2) strengthen mercury phase-out legislation, (3) pass new legislation requiring incentivized collections for mercury thermostats, and (4) establish maximum mercury-content standards for light bulbs.
The U.S. EPA and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry have launched a new campaign to warn children about the dangers of playing with elemental mercury. To reach its intended audience, the video “Don’t Mess with Mercury” is being announced on Twitter and posted to You Tube. Spilt elemental mercury can break into microscopic beads that are invisible to the eye but continue to release odorless toxic vapors. Attempts to vacuum or sweep a mercury spill can create approximately 10 times more hazardous mercury vapors than cleaning it properly.