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A Toxics-Free Future

Mercury in the Chemical Industry – a Toxic Legacy in the CEE Region

This report summarises a comprehensive project report by NGO Arnika Association that can be accessed at http://english.arnika.org/. The project investigates the status of mercury pollution in and around industrial facilities in the Central and Eastern European (CEE) region that are intentionally using mercury in their manufacturing processes (such as chlor-alkali plants). These include current and legacy operations in the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, Kazakhstan, and Albania which have caused high levels of mercury contamination on-site and in the surrounding environment. Many of these contaminated areas represent a serious hazard to human health and ecosystem integrity. Highlights of the report include the generation of comprehensive new sampling and biomonitoring data that can contribute to raising awareness of the hazards of mercury pollution in the CEE and prompt action on the clean-up of contaminated sites. This new data can also contribute to the mercury inventories of a number of countries as part of their enabling activities for the Minamata Convention on Mercury (Mercury Treaty). Another outcome of the project was to assess the ability of the Mercury Treaty to stop pollution from existing facilities and clean-up legacy sites. In both respects the Treaty was found to be weak. The project activities relate closely to articles 3, 5, 8, 9, 11, 12, 16, 18 and 19 of the Treaty. 

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