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South Korea Completes Domestic Approval Process for the Minamata Convention on Mercury

  •   26 Nov 2019
  •    Horace Wang
  •    595
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    Takehome

    • The South Korea approval document on the Minamata Convention was completed and submitted to the United Nations on 22nd November.
    • The requirements in the approval document are scheduled to enter into effect 90 days after deposition.

    On the 21st November, South Korea MoE issued a Notice [1]that the Minamata Convention on Mercury had been approved internally. The approval document was submitted to the United Nations on 22nd November. The approval document, which sets requirements on the safety management of mercury manufacturing, importation, exportation, and disposal, is scheduled to take effect 90 days after being received and deposited by the UN.

    The Minamata Convention was agreed to, signed in October 2013, and entered into force in August 2017 in accordance with the United Nations Environment Programme. After signing the Minamata Convention in September 2014, South Korea made proper legal preparations to meet the obligations in the agreement and completed all preparations recently. As mentioned above, the Convention specifies the safety management for the entire life of mercury and mercury compounds. In the Notice, MoE showed major control measures and corresponding regulation basis, which were gradually completed since the Convention had been signed.

    Here are the major management measures:

    1. Mercury mining is prohibited, and existing mercury mining must close within 15 years.
    2. Since 2020, the manufacture and import-export agreement of eight mercury-added products shall be banned, and the use of dental amalgam shall decrease.
    3. From 2025, Chlorine-alkali production using mercury will stop.
    4. Mercury can be exported when it meets the use permitted in the agreement, or it is environmentally-friendly temporary storage, while the written consent of the importing country is required.
    5. Grasp discharge facilities that can release mercury into the atmosphere, rivers, and soil, and conduct discharge surveys and set discharge permit standards to reduce emissions.
    6. The temporary storage of non-waste mercury and the treatment of mercury waste need to adopt environmentally sound methods.
    7. Carry out surveys on the health effects of mercury exposure and reviews on pollution standards in the environment, etc.

    As so far, South Korea completed the implementation of the above measures in domestic management regulations. However, there are still new control measures that are newly added in the approval document, which is worth noting for stakeholders.

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