US and EU Initiatives to Ban Mercury Exports

Today, US Senator Barack Obama sent a letter to US Dept. of Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman requesting clarification on recent reports that DOE is considering the sale of its 1300+ tons of its surplus mercury currently stored at its Oak Ridge, TN facility. “Given that mercury is a trans-boundary pollutant that is deposited both locally and globally, any strategy to reduce mercury in the environment must also include reducing the volume of mercury traded and solid in the world market,” states the letter from Senator Obama. Senator Obama has expressed concerns about global mercury issues and has introduced the Mercury Market Minimization Act (S. 3627), which would ban the export of surplus mercury from the US, similar to the proposal to ban mercury exports described below by the European Commission. The EC recently hosted an international conference on managing international supply and demand of mercury (see online presentations), including a presentation from MPP director Michael Bender. Policy makers, industry representatives, non-governmental organizations and scientists participated in this event. The conference brought together experts and stakeholders from around the world to discuss, in an open dialogue, the way forward to reduce mercury supply and demand.