Make India Asbestos Free

Make India Asbestos Free
For Asbestos Free India

Journal of Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI). Asbestos Free India campaign of BANI is inspired by trade union movement and right to health campaign. BANI has been working since 2000. It works with peoples movements, doctors, researchers and activists besides trade unions, human rights, environmental, consumer and public health groups. BANI demands criminal liability for companies and medico-legal remedy for victims.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

UN Delegates meet in Bali to strengthen waste pact

BALI, Indonesia (AP) — The United Nations said Wednesday that a lack of resources and political will are hampering efforts to halt the flow of hazardous waste from rich countries to the world's poorest nations.

The warning comes as delegates from as many as 170 countries meet on the Indonesian island of Bali to discuss how they can strengthen the U.N.-administered Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, adopted in 1989. The meeting ends Friday.

Convention Executive Secretary Katharina Kummer Peiry acknowledged that the dumping of everything from hazardous chemicals to electronic waste from televisions and computers in poor countries is a growing problem. She blamed it mostly on the inability of poor nations to finance better enforcement and monitoring of waste coming into their ports.

"The problem lies in the lack of interest and lack of resources on the issue at all levels," Peiry said.

"Waste management is not something one wants to talk about," she said. "It's not attractive as an issue and usually at the bottom of the political agenda in terms of environmental management."

The extent of the problem was illustrated in 2006, when hundreds of tons of toxic waste were dumped around Ivory Coast's main city of Abidjan, killing at least 10 people and sickening tens of thousands more. The waste came from a tanker chartered by the multibillion-dollar Dutch commodities trading company Trafigura Beheer BV, which turned to Africa after disposal costs in Amsterdam were deemed too expensive.

The ship found a local company in Ivory Coast that agreed to dispose of the waste. But it lacked proper facilities and allegedly dumped the waste around the city at night. Trafigura has agreed to pay $236 million to the Ivorian government but has denied responsibility.

Critics say the Ivory Coast case highlighted the limitations of the convention. Although it requires a country to seek the consent of another government when exporting waste and allows a country to ban the import of waste, it stops short of an outright export ban.

An amendment calling for a ban was first proposed in 1995, but not enough of the convention's 170 member countries have ratified it. A ban is likely to be debated in Bali on Thursday when environmental ministers begin discussing the convention.

Opponents of a ban argue it would stamp out environmentally sound recycling of waste that is a boon to some developing countries like Thailand and India. But supporters contend that ignores the potential safety hazards.

"If you want to make money, why don't you make money on something else and not hazardous waste," said Agus Purnomo, who is heading Indonesia's delegation at the meeting and supports a ban. "Even the transport poses risks. This is hazardous waste. We need to put at the top the safety of the population and the environment."

The Associated Press

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