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WORKING GROUP II

Working Group II finished its discussion of freshwater resources. Discussion then began on Agenda item 6(b), "Toxic chemicals and hazardous wastes."

FRESHWATER RESOURCES: Most speakers supported the results of the Noordwijk Conference. China, Malaysia, Morocco and Japan stressed the need for cooperative research, information and technology exchange, and capacity building. Mexico stressed greater coordination of activities between international organizations. Senegal and Hungary raised the issue of transboundary water pollution and joint management of transboundary water resources. Algeria called for information exchange on predicting and assessing water resources and Canada called for a global water assessment.

Japan mentioned that water used in the agricultural and industrial sectors can be recycled and described its bilateral assistance programmes in this area. The US stressed the need for a greater focus on pollution prevention and sound pricing policies.

India mentioned the need to discuss the digging of wells, the drilling of tubewells and the building of canals and called for water and moisture conservation programmes to deal with falling water tables. Belgium said that groundwater deterioration due to pesticides and nitrates is growing.

The Netherlands supported greater focus on partnerships between the public and private sectors. INSTRAW, Norway and Senegal stressed the role of women in the planning and management of water resources.

TOXIC CHEMICALS: Elisabeth Barsk-Rundquist presented the report of the Secretary-General on toxic chemicals (E/CN.17/1994/6), noting that 13 million chemicals have been identified and up to 1000 new chemicals enter the market each year. Jan Huismans from UNEP presented the Task Manager's report citing two major concerns: a fundamental lack of knowledge of the risks associated with chemicals and a serious lack of capacity to manage this risk, particularly in developing countries. Delegates praised these reports.

Sweden recalled the International Conference on Chemical Safety and asked the Commission to welcome the intergovernmental Forum it established and to endorse its recommendations, particularly relating to the development of a legally-binding agreement on the primary informed consent (PIC) procedure. Switzerland, the EU, Canada, the US and Australia supported the establishment of the Forum. The US offered to host its next meeting. Australia suggested rotating meetings regionally and offered to be one of the hosts. Germany, the US, Egypt, Korea, Japan, Canada, the EU and Switzerland supported the strengthening of the PIC procedure.

Many countries suggested placing more emphasis on preventive action: Sri Lanka suggested providing incentives and adopting regulatory measures that advance cleaner technologies; Pakistan and Germany supported the concept of prevention and Pakistan urged using the precautionary principle; and Switzerland suggested the promotion of safer substitutes.

Australia called for the refinement, prioritization of, and allocation of resources to the six areas outlined in Chapter 19 of Agenda 21.

Lead was singled out for special attention. The US, NRDC and Sweden requested that priority attention be given to addressing lead pollution, beginning with phasing out leaded gasoline.

HAZARDOUS WASTES: Barsk-Rundquist presented the report of the Secretary-General on hazardous wastes (E/CN.17/1994/7), noting that adverse impacts of hazardous wastes have led to a variety of conflicts between communities and waste producers. Jacqueline Aloisi de Larderel presented the Task Manager's report coordinated by UNEP, noting that 66 States have ratified and implemented the Basel Convention. Again there was substantial praise for these reports.

Many countries supported the Basel Convention and Canada and Australia urged all non-parties to ratify the Convention. Brazil noted that the recent Decision adopted at the Second Conference of the Parties to ban dumping from OECD to non-OECD countries has given the Convention greater standing within the international community. Japan, China, Malaysia, Brazil, the Nordic countries and Indonesia supported the ban. Many States requested more focus on illegal dumping and trafficking. Malaysia supported a protocol on liability that contains punitive measures. Indonesia noted that island States are more vulnerable to illegal dumping and Benin commented that many developing countries still feel vulnerable regarding this issue.

Several countries called for the establishment of priorities and for the CSD to continue its close cooperation with other organizations. Sweden and the Philippines mentioned the need to address the military's disposal of hazardous wastes.

RADIOACTIVE WASTES: The Secretariat presented the report of the Secretary-General on radioactive wastes (E/CN.17/1994/15) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) presented the Task Manager's report. Many States commented that the Secretary-General's report was distributed late resulting in insufficient time for analysis. Several States also noted that parts were incorrect and information had been omitted. The Chair requested that these corrections be submitted in writing and the report will be revised.

Sweden noted two points that need to be addressed: the decommissioning of nuclear power plants and military wastes that are outside the mandate of national safety agencies. Australia supported the ban on dumping at sea under the London Dumping Convention and called for greater cooperation and information exchange between countries in the development of international and regional policies.

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