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U.S. work on surplus mercury. Presentation by Lynn Vendinello National Program Chemicals Division, U.S. EPA April, 2009. History: Early work by States. Concerns and interests of states and local governments helped guide EPA’s work on surplus mercury

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u s work on surplus mercury

U.S. work on surplus mercury

Presentation by Lynn Vendinello

National Program Chemicals Division, U.S. EPA

April, 2009

history early work by states
History: Early work by States
  • Concerns and interests of states and local governments helped guide EPA’s work on surplus mercury
  • State and local governments promoted public and private collection programs for both bulk elemental mercury and discarded mercury-containing products.
  • States formed organization called “Quicksilver Caucus” which wrote resolutions and recommendations in 2003 on mercury problems.
  • Quicksilver Caucus did not want mercury they collected from waste to be sold because it could go back into the environment.

.

  • Preference for long-term, safe storage by the federal government.
history mercury work at unep
History: Mercury work at UNEP
  • 2002 UNEP Mercury Assessment identified global nature of problem, significant contributors, and trade-flow pattern from developed to developing countries.
  • At 2005 Governing Council, European Union called for negotiation of a legally binding instrument to address mercury, including reducing international trade.
  • United States responded with voluntary Partnership proposal.
  • Continued debate at 2007 Governing Council.
  • United States proposed further voluntary mechanism at 2008 Ad Hoc Working Group.
epa committed to address surplus privately held mercury 2006
EPA committed to address surplus privately-held mercury, 2006
  • “EPA’s described the problem in July 2006 “Roadmap for Mercury”
    • Federally-owned mercury already safely stored
    • Because of falling demand, there will be an increasing need to safely manage private mercury supplies for the long term.
    • “In the absence of efforts to retire mercury supplies, there is a danger that mercury will find uses that have already been banned or eliminated in some countries, particularly in the developing world, possibly leading to unnecessary releases.”
  • EPA committed to establish a process to address the problem
epa addressed surplus privately held mercury 2007
EPA addressed surplus privately-held mercury, 2007
  • OPPT and ORCR formed senior-level workgroup in early 2007 with other federal agencies to acquire information and views of stakeholders and technical experts.
  • The result was a series of day-long meetings held between spring and fall of 2007 which EPA organized.
  • Stakeholder participants: mercury recyclers, chlor-alkali industry, mining companies, NGOs, states, and academics
  • Focus was on what to do with excess privately-held mercury
results of stakeholder meetings
Results of stakeholder meetings
  • EPA reported the widely differing preferences of what should be done with surplus privately-held mercury, ranging from:
    • continue to allow export in order to prevent more primary mercury mining in other countries

to

    • US government take ownership of the mercury and storing it for the long-term at no cost to the holders
administration position on proposed legislation on export ban
Administration position on proposed legislation on export ban
  • Congress debated bill in autumn, 2008 to ban exports and provide government storage facility for storage, 2008
  • Administration opposed legislation because of possible unintended effects such as reducing recycling and increasing primary mercury mining
export ban act tasks doe and epa
Export Ban Act tasks DOE and EPA
  • DOE will set up a facility with standards and fees
  • EPA will assist DOE on standards and will conduct studies for Congress
epa s current work to implement new law
EPA’s current work to implement new law
  • Legislative interpretation
  • Mercury Compounds Report to Congress
  • Study on Primary mercury mining
epa support for mercury management in latin america
EPA support for mercury management in Latin America
  • OPPT funds a cooperative agreement with the UNEP Secretariat of the Basel Convention to help Latin American countries build capacity for managing toxic waste, including discarded mercury products.
    • Four-year initiative began late 2008
    • Purposes: raise awareness, exchange information, and develop environmentally sound waste management plans to safely manage hazardous waste
    • May address obsolete pesticides, PCBs in addition to mercury
epa support for mercury management in latin america1
EPA support for mercury management in Latin America

Basel Convention Regional and Coordinating Centre in Uruguay is planning mercury projects with individual countries

  • initial projects proposed in Argentina, Costa Rica, and Uruguay, with an emphasis on health care facilities.