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MEDIA REPORTS

CHEMICALS MANAGEMENT

This page was updated on: 01/13/10

 

2009

 

Chemicals Management Media Reports Archives: 2010; 2008; 2007; 2006; 2005; 2004; 2003; 2002

DECEMBER 2009

 

SIMULTANEOUS EXCOP TO THE BASEL, ROTTERDAM AND STOCKHOLM CONVENTIONS, ADVISORY COMMITTEE REPORT RELEASED

The report of the second meeting of the Advisory Committee for the Simultaneous Extraordinary Meetings of the Conferences of the Parties (ExCOP) to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions has been released. The meeting took place in Bangkok, Thailand, on 24 October 2009, and discussed the issues to be considered by the ExCOP, the consultative process on financing options for chemicals and wastes, and the voluntary trust fund budget. The Advisory committee concluded that matters related to the consultative process on financing options for chemicals and wastes would be considered by the UN Environment Programme Governing Council Special Session, as opposed to the ExCOP. 

 

Link to further information

ExCOP Advisory Committee report

 

BASEL CONVENTION RELEASES REPORT ON REGIONAL CENTRES

The Secretariat of the Basel Convention has released a report entitled “Review of the Operation of the Basel Convention Regional and Coordinating Centres.” The report, called for in decision IX/4 includes: a draft work plan for the strengthening of the Basel Convention Regional and Coordinating Centres (BCRCs); a detailed list of the necessary elements for the performance of the core functions of BCRCs; a draft strategic framework for the financial sustainability of the centres; and a set of indicators to measure performance and impediments in relation to the functions and impacts of the BCRCs. The document will be considered by the seventh session of the Open-Ended Working Group, scheduled to convene in Geneva from 10-14 May 2010. 

 

Link to further information

Basel Convention website

 

OCTOBER 2009

UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR VISITS TOXIC DUMPS IN KYRGYZSTAN
The UN  Special Rapporteur on the adverse effects of the movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment of human rights, Okechukwu Ibeanu, visited toxic dumps in an 11-day visit to Kyrgyzstan. According to Ibeanu, Kyrgyzstan has made progress in addressing the significant problems of radioactive and toxic waste dumps, as well as in raising international awareness of the serious trans-boundary threats of contamination of groundwater and rivers, but much more remains to be done. Ibeanu noted that the social and economic impact of uranium tailings sites and other hazardous toxic waste dump sites on the local population need to be addressed.

Link to further information
UN News service, 9 October 2009

UNEP AND FAO LAUNCH WEBSITE FOR BASEL, ROTTERDAM AND STOCKHOLM SIMULTANEOUS EXCOP
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have launched a dedicated website for the Simultaneous Extraordinary Meetings of the Conferences of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, scheduled to convene from 22-26 February 2010, in Bali, Indonesia. The website includes new information about the Advisory Committee on the ExCOPs and the Consultative Process on Options for Financing Chemicals and Wastes.

Link to further information
ExCOP website

STOCKHOLM CONVENTION LAUNCHES SMALL GRANT PROGRAMME
The Stockholm Convention Secretariat has launched a small grant programme designed to channel bilateral donor funds for implementing the Convention through Stockholm Convention regional and sub-regional Centres for capacity-building and the transfer of technology. The initial funding, provided by the Government of Norway for 2009, is US$100,000, with the possibility of annual replenishment and expansion of the Programme.

Two proposals will be selected from among those submitted by the regional centres. Interested centres are invited to submit their project proposals to the Secretariat before 31 October 2009.

Link to further information
Stockholm Convention website

SEPTEMBER 2009

UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR RELEASES REPORT ON CÔTE D’IVOIRE DUMPING  
The UN Special Rapporteur on the adverse effects of the movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment of human rights, Okechukwu Ibeanu, has released his assessment of the 2006 incident involving the dumping of waste from the vessel Probo Koala in Côte d’Ivoire. Ibeanu visited Côte d’Ivoire and the Netherlands as part of his investigation. He noted that, in the Netherlands, improved measures have been taken to avoid the recurrence of similar incidents and recommended that the Netherlands should continue to provide support to the Government of Côte d’Ivoire to allow the latter to monitor and address effectively the long-term human health and environmental effects of the incident. In Côte d’Ivoire, the Special Rapporteur identified an urgent need to tackle outstanding issues, in particular with regard to decontamination, health care and compensation. He encouraged the Ivorian authorities to take further action to protect the right to life, the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health and the right to a healthy environment of all affected victims and their families.

Link to further information
Report of the UN Special Rapporteur, 3 September 2009

SAICM SECRETARIAT ISSUES UPDATE ON EMERGING POLICY ISSUES
The SAICM Secretariat has released an update on current activities related to SAICM’s agreed emerging policy issues: nanotechnologies and manufactured nanomaterials; hazardous substances within the life cycle of electrical and electronic products; chemicals in products; and lead in paint. In each case, governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, including the private sector, are tasked to carry-out actions.

Link to further information
Update on SAICM implementation – emerging policy issues, 2 September 2009

AMENDMENTS TO THE STOCKHOLM CONVENTION DEPOSITED
The amendments to the Stockholm Convention, agreed by parties to the Convention at the Fourth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 4) in May 2009, have been deposited. The adoption of the amendment to Annexes A, B and C of the Stockholm Convention was communicated by the Depository on 26 August 2009. Accordingly, the amendments shall enter into force on 26 August 2010 for all parties that have not submitted a notification in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 3(b) of Article 22.

Link to further information
Stockholm Convention website

EU DISCUSSING ENVIRONMENTALLY HAZARDOUS SHIP DISMANTLING
Under the Swedish Presidency of the European Union (EU), discussions are being held to establish what measures the EU may take to improve the situation of environmentally hazardous ship dismantling. According to the European Commission (EC), in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, where most of the dismantling industry is located, hundreds of workers are killed or injured. The condemned ships also contain large amounts of hazardous waste including asbestos, PCBs and oil sludge, which is released into the environment.

In 2008, the EC presented a proposal calling for increased cooperation between authorities in the EU member states, improved control and lists on environmentally friendly ship dismantling facilities and condemned vessels. Negotiations over the position of the Council of Ministers will commence on 21 October 2009. The EC will then present EU legislation proposals, based on the Council’s viewpoints.

An EU ban on exporting environmentally hazardous materials already exists, but compliance with the ban is poor, especially regarding ships, due to the difficulty in establishing exactly when a ship should be demolished. The overarching objective of the Commission’s strategy is to ensure that the dismantling of ships sailing under EU flags will be safe and environmentally friendly by the year 2015.

Link to further information
Swedish Presidency of the EU website

 

JULY 2009

BASEL CONVENTION WORKS WITH WORLD CUSTOMS ORGANIZATION TO ADDRESS HAZARDOUS WASTE
A joint global Customs initiative, titled “Operation Demeter,” implemented across Europe, the Asia and Pacific region and Africa, netted more than 30,000 tons and 1,500 pieces of illegal hazardous waste in 57 seizures, between March and May 2009. The initiative was supported by national environmental agencies, the Secretariat of the Basel Convention, the EU Network for Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law, and the seven World Customs Organization Regional Intelligence Liaison Offices, located in the participating regions. The majority of seizures took place in European countries, including the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy, before the waste could be shipped. Iron scrap destined for Asia topped the list in terms of quantities seized. Africa remained the “destination of choice” for household waste such as used refrigerators containing chlorofluorocarbons and old television screens.

Link to further information
World Customs Organization press release

PROTOCOL TO THE ARHUS CONVENTION TO ENTER INTO FORCE
The Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers to the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Aarhus Convention is set to enter into force on 8 October 2009, after France’s ratification was deposited with the UN Secretary-General on 10 July 2009. Pollutant release and transfer registers are inventories of pollutants from industrial sites, but also smaller, widespread sources such as traffic, agriculture and small and medium-sized enterprises. Under the Protocol, facilities will be required to report annually on the amounts of certain pollutants they release to the environment or transfer to other facilities. The Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers will help identify the biggest polluters in communities across Europe. The Protocol also covers facilities releasing large quantities of greenhouse gases known to contribute to global warming and thus offers a new tool to countries battling climate change. The European Union’s 27 Member States are expected to release their first annual reports on the release and transfer of the Protocol’s list of pollutants on 30 September 2009.

Link to further information
UNECE press release

JUNE 2009

POPRC POCKET GUIDE AVAILABLE FOR COMMENT
The Secretariat of the Stockholm Convention has released a draft version of the pocket guide to the Persistent Organic Pollutant Review Committee (POPRC), based on the handbook for effective participation in the POPRC. Parties and observers are invited to submit comments on the guide to the Secretariat by 29 July 2009.  

Link to further information
Stockholm Convention website

 

JULY 2009

ROTTERDAM RELEASES PIC CIRCULAR
The Rotterdam Convention Secretariat has released the June 2009 (Prior Informed Consent) PIC Circular, to provide all parties through their designated national authorities with the information required to be circulated by the Secretariat, in line with articles 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 13 and 14. The PIC Circular is published every six months, in June and December. This 408-page Circular contains information related to the period from 31 October 2008-30 April 2009, including details of parties’ new import responses to chemicals. The PIC Circular is available in English, French and Spanish.

Link to further information
June 2009 PIC Circular

UNEP MERCURY PROGRAMME SUPPORTS COUNTRY EFFORTS
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Mercury Programme has announced that available funding from the UNEP Mercury Trust Fund will be used to support partnerships, projects and activities aiming to assist developing countries and countries with economies in transition in understanding the nature and magnitude of the mercury problem, and in developing tools and strategies to mitigate mercury pollution. The maximum amount per project is US$100,000, however projects under US$50,000 may be given preference, as may also be the case for projects with an element of co-funding from other sources and/or substantial in-kind contributions. 

Link to further information
UNEP Mercury Programme website

MAY 2009

UN AGENCIES LAUNCH GLOBAL EFFORT TO ERADICATE MALARIA
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and World Health Organization, in partnership with the Global Environment Facility (GEF), have announced a rejuvenated international effort to combat malaria with an incremental reduction of reliance on the synthetic pesticide DDT. The global programme, entitled "Demonstrating and Scaling-up of Sustainable Alternatives to DDT in Vector Management," involves 40 countries in Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean and Central Asia. Under the programme, these countries are set to test non-chemical methods ranging from eliminating potential mosquito breeding sites and securing homes with mesh screens to deploying mosquito-repellent trees and fish that eat mosquito larvae. DDT is being phased out under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

Links to further information
UN News Centre, 6 May 2009

MERCURY STORAGE AND WASTE MANAGEMENT PROJECTS LAUNCHED
Norway is funding two mercury projects addressing environmentally-sound storage and waste management of mercury. Both projects are being implemented by UNEP Chemicals, which held initial workshops in early March 2009, in Bangkok, Thailand, and Siem Ream, Cambodia. 

The storage project workshop was jointly conducted with the Zero Mercury Working Group. Management options include the US above ground facility/warehouse and the EU below ground facility, using salt mines. Participants from 19 Asian countries agreed to complete options analysis as the basis for countries’ decision. The waste management project includes five countries – Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Chile, Pakistan, and the Philippines. It aims to increase the technical capacity in assessing, managing and reducing risks posed by mercury-containing waste. It is planned to develop sector-specific guidance and analyze selected human and environmental matrices for total and organic mercury.

Links to further information
Chair’s summary from Bangkok workshop, March 2009
Mercury waste project

Mercury storage project

APRIL 2009

STOCKHOLM PARTIES SUBMIT IMPLEMENTATION PLANS IN LEAD-UP TO COP4
Several parties to the Stockholm Convention have transmitted their National Implementation Plans (NIPs), pursuant to Article 7 of the Convention, to the Secretariat prior to the fourth Conference of the Parties (COP4). These parties include the Republic of Korea, United Arab Emirates, the Gambia, the Syrian Arab Republic, Croatia, Tuvalu, Oman, Belgium, Panama and Uganda. Under Article 7, parties are required to develop and endeavour to implement a plan for the implementation of its obligations under this Convention and transmit its NIP to the COP within two years of the date on which this Convention enters into force for it.

Link to further information
Stockholm Convention website

EU SCIENTIFIC COMMITTEE CONSIDERS ALTERNATIVE AVAILABILITY FOR MERCURY SPHYGMOMANOMETERS
The European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) has been requested to review the availability of reliable alternatives to mercury-containing syphygmomanometers (blood pressure monitoring devices). Currently these are exempted from the ban on the use of mercury containing devices, which entered into force in the EU on 3 April 2009. The review will be completed and SCENIHR scientific opinion delivered by October 2009. 

Link to further information
SCENIHR request for scientific opinion

CHEMICALS CAMPAIGNERS AWARDED ENVIRONMENT PRIZE
Olga Speranskaya (Russian Federation) and Yuyun Ismawati (Indonesia) have been awarded the Goldman Environment Prize for their work with communities and grassroots organizations in protecting human health and the environment from toxic chemicals and waste. The Goldman Environment Prize is the world’s largest prize honouring grassroots environmentalists. Olga Speranskaya transformed the NGO community in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia into a participatory force working to identify and eliminate the Soviet legacy of toxic chemicals in the environment. Yuyun Ismawati implements sustainable community-based waste and hazardous waste solutions that provide employment opportunities to low-income people and empower them to improve the environment.

Link to further information
International POPs Elimination Network website
Goldman Prize website

STOCKHOLM CONVENTION POPS REGIONAL MONITORING REPORTS RELEASED
The Stockholm Convention has released regional monitoring reports for Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific, Central and Eastern Europe and the Western Europe and Others Group. These reports, along with a global monitoring report, were compiled following the implementation of a decision by parties to the Convention to establish regional organization groups to define and implement the regional strategy for information gathering, including capacity building and establishment of strategic partnerships to fill identified data gaps, and to prepare the regional monitoring report as a contribution to the first effectiveness evaluation report, to be presented to the Conference of the Parties at its fourth meeting in May 2009. 

Link to further information
Stockholm Convention website

EC CALLS FOR HIGH LEVEL UN PANEL ON CHEMICALS RISKS
European Commission (EC) Vice-President Margot Wallström called for “a new UN panel with independent researchers to tackle the risks from chemicals in the same way that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is doing for climate change,” on 3 April 2009. Wallström made the call at the inauguration of the European Chemicals Agency Conference Centre in Helsinki, Finland. 

Link to further information
European Chemicals Agency press release

US CONSIDERING STOCKHOLM RATIFICATION
According to an a senior US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official, the EPA is expected to reform the US Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), preparing for additional mandatory controls on mercury, and hoping to develop legislation enabling full US participation in the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. The announcement was made at the GlobalChem conference, which convened from 6-8 April 2009, in Baltimore, US. 

Link to further information
GlobalChem 2009 website

ROTTERDAM CONVENTION INVITES FEEDBACK ON RESOURCE KIT
The Rotterdam Convention Secretariat is inviting comments on the Rotterdam Convention Resource Kit. The Resource Kit was developed as a comprehensive source of information and training materials to assist in the ratification and implementation of the Convention. This evaluation form has been prepared with the objective of collecting feedback on the usefulness and quality of the contents of the Resource Kit.

Link to further information
Rotterdam Convention website

MARCH 2009

SECRETARIAT ANNOUNCES NEW PARTIES TO THE BASEL CONVENTION
The Basel Convention Secretariat has announced that the Basel Convention now has 172 parties. Gabon acceded to the Convention on 6 June 2008, and the Republic of Korea acceded on 10 July 2008. Both countries became parties to the Convention on the ninetieth day after the date of deposit of the instrument of accession. In other ratification news, Colombia ratified the Protocol on Liability and Compensation for Damage Resulting from Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, which brings the number of parties to that Protocol to nine. Italy ratified the Ban Amendment on 3 March 2009, which brings the number of ratifications to that Amendment to 65.

Links to information
Ratifications of the Basel Convention
Ratification of the Protocol to the Basel Convention
Ratifications of the Basel Convention Ban Amendment

SWISS-INDONESIAN INITIATIVE TO IMPROVE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE BASEL CONVENTION ANNOUNCED
The Governments of Switzerland and Indonesia have announced an informal process to improve the effectiveness of the Basel Convention with respect to environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes. The Country-led Initiative will invite key players to engage in informal discussions on issues including: reasons why transboundary movements of hazardous wastes, especially to developing countries, continue, contrary to the overarching objective of the Ban Amendment; reasons that countries that do not have the capacity to ensure the environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes still receive such wastes; and what steps could be taken to protect developing countries from unwanted imports of hazardous wastes. The Country-led Initiative will meet three times before the tenth Conference of the Parties (COP10), scheduled to convene in 2011.

Link to further information
Basel Convention website

NGOS LAUNCH �REACH - YOUR RIGHT TO KNOW� LEAFLET
To mark European Consumer Day on 15 March 2009, a coalition of environmental, women�s and consumer groups launched an updated leaflet explaining to consumers their right to know under the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation about substances of very high concern in products. Under REACH, when consumers ask, companies must inform them, free of charge, which harmful chemicals are in the product. The initiative is led by the Chemical Health Monitor project of the Health and Environmental Alliance (HEAL) and provides advice to consumers on which information can be requested, and how to request it.

Links to further information
Heal Statement
Your Right to Know leaflet

EU OUTLINES PRIORITIES FOR ITS CHEMICALS INDUSTRY
In a report adopted by the High Level Group on the Competitiveness of the European Chemicals Industry in Brussels, the EU has called for more innovation and research and strengthening networks and clusters, and asked for greater private commitment and a favorable policy framework in this regard. The report identifies three key challenges for the European chemicals industry: the increasingly difficult energy and feedstock situation, which has a high impact on costs; climate change and global environmental challenges; and strong competition from industry in emerging countries and barriers to market access in these countries. The report includes 40 recommendations that aim to foster the competitiveness of the European chemicals industry while contributing to sustainable development, and confirm the need for setting stable and foreseeable framework conditions and orientations, notwithstanding the current economic crisis.

Link to further information
High Level Group for the Competitiveness for the European Chemicals Industry report

 

FEBRUARY 2009

SAICM QUICK START PROGRAMME FUNDING SIXTH ROUND OF APPLICATIONS
The SAICM Quick Start Programme (QSP) sixth round of funding is currently open, but will close on 27 February 2009. The QSP Trust Fund Implementation Committee will review applications at its seventh meeting, on 16-17 April 2009.

Link to further information
SAICM website

UNEP CHEMICALS ANNOUNCES MERCURY PROJECT
The UNEP Chemicals Mercury Programme has announced a project to reduce mercury supply and investigate mercury storage solutions in Kyrgyzstan. The project was developed jointly with UNITAR and UNEP-GRID Arendal, and is supported by Switzerland and the US. The project was prompted by a request by Kyrgyzstan for assistance to consider options for phasing-out mercury mining. A desk study being published by UNEP-GRID Arendal will be used for information in the international forum and as a starting point for the development of, and consultation on, the economic growth plan. The project is expected to shift Kyrgyzstan�s economy in the Ferghana valley region away from primary mercury mining to more economically and environmentally sound and sustainable productive activities.

Link to further information
Project document

JANUARY 2009

EUROPEAN COMMISSION ADOPTS FINAL AMENDMENT TO DANGEROUS SUBSTANCES DIRECTIVE
The European Commission agreed to include more than 600 substances in the final amendment to the Dangerous Substances Directive, which was adopted on 15 January 2009. It included more than 200 substances identified as causing cancer, genetic mutation, or as having an effect on reproduction. Under the REACH regulation on chemicals, substances classified as carcinogenic, mutagenic or having reproductive toxic effects may need authorisation to be used or placed on the market.

Link to further information
Dangerous Substances Directive, 15 January 2009

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