Japan Prepares Mercury Contamination Prevention Plan

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By Toshio Aritake

Aug. 8 — Japan is preparing what would be its most comprehensive effort to manage mercury contamination and eventually eliminate its use, as required under an international agreement it ratified this year, an official with the Ministry of the Environment's Office of Mercury Policy told Bloomberg BNA.

The plan, expected to go into effect early next year, will move Japan toward conformance with the Minamata Convention, which calls for major cuts in mercury use by 2020, Yusuke Igarashi said. The details are still being coordinated, but there also will be additional voluntary measures that industry can follow, he said.

Under what Japan is calling its “Mercury Minimum” plan, the country will implement regulations to ban mercury mining, restrict manufacture of products that uses mercury for new purposes, and ban the use of mercury-based leeching methods in gold mining.

On Oct. 1, 2017, Japan is scheduled to implement new standards on the disposal of mercury waste, mercury-containing industrial products, and mercury-containing sludge and dust.

The Minamata Convention on Mercury was adopted and signed in 2013 in the southern Japanese city of Minamata, the venue of the first mass mercury poisoning cases in the world. It stipulates that signatory countries cease production, domestic distribution, consumption and cross-border exports and imports of mercury, their derivatives and products such as thermometers and lights by 2020.

The treaty was signed by 128 countries and takes effect upon ratification by 50 signatory nations. This year, Japan became the 23rd country to ratify the agreement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Toshio Aritake in Tokyo at correspondents@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Greg Henderson at ghenderson@bna.com

For More Information

More information on the Mercury Minimum plan is available, in Japanese, at http://src.bna.com/hsf .

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