DENR receives mercury sampler from Government of Taiwan In support of efforts to strengthen mercury monitoring in the Philippines, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) –Environmental Management Bureau(EMB)receives from the Government of Taiwan through the Taiwan Environmental Protection Administration, a mercury deposition sampler to improve information in the management of environmental concerns involving mercury.
Present during the turnover ceremony are DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Affairs, Atty. Jonas R. Leones; the Deputy Representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines, Minister James Chu; Manila Economic and Cultural Office Vice Chairman, Atty. Gilberto Lauengco and DENR – EMB Asst. Director, Engr. Visminda A. Osorio.
DENR Undersecretary Leones said that the addition of a mercury sampler for collection of wet deposition samples to DENR’s monitoring capabilities will strengthen the gathering of mercury information in the country. “The information that we will gather from this joint venture will definitely improve the coordination of monitoring activities in the country and expand regional capabilities for assessing atmospheric mercury transport and deposition which is a critical component of the global mercury cycle,” Leones said.
Leones added that the results of the mercury monitoring in the Philippines will form part of the Asia-Pacific monitoring network that aims to generate data consistent with monitoring-related provisions of the Minamata Convention that will be useful in evaluating the effectiveness of pollution control strategies for mercury.
The Philippines in 2013, signed the historic Minamata Convention during the United Nations Conference on Mercury in Kumamoto, Japan.
The Minamata Convention is a globally binding instrument that prescribes the regulation of Mercury among Member States. The Convention also enjoins Parties to identify sources, uses and applications of Mercury, including unintended releases to the environment and develop Action Plans for the reduction of use and eventual phase out of Mercury.
The convention is named after Minamata Bay, which was contaminated by methyl mercury discharged from a local chemical factory. The disaster, which affected thousands of human lives was the first large – scale incident of methyl mercury poisoning. Minamata drew the world’s attention to the devastating effects of mercury, a powerful neurotoxicant now known to be particularly dangerous to unborn babies, infants, and young children.
In 1997, the Department has issued Administrative Order 38, or the Chemical Control Order for Mercury and Mercury Compounds, in compliance with Republic Act 6969, or the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990. The said Chemical Control Order aims to establish limitations of the use of mercury and mercury containing substances, control and regulate the disposal of mercury contaminated wastes, and reduce the hazards to environment and health caused by the exposure to and handling of mercury.
Mercury compounds are also included in the Philippine Priority Chemical List, issued by the DENR, through the EMB. The PCL is a list of existing and new chemicals that were determined to potentially pose unreasonable risk to public health and safety, and of course, the environment.
The DENR has also banned mercury use in mineral processing in the small-scale mining industry, an implementation of Executive Order No.79 which President Benigno Aquino III signed in July 2012.