Global POPs treaty signed; US to seek swift Senate OK

24 May 2001 00:03  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (CNI)--Representatives of more than 90 nations signed the global treaty banning persistent organic pollutants (POPs) at a ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden Wednesday and the White House said it will "move swiftly" to submit the treaty for US Senate approval.

In a joint statement issued today by the Department of State and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the US administration stressed its "commitment to continued strong leadership on POPs."

EPA administrator Christie Whitman, who signed the treaty earlier on behalf of the US, noted that the US has donated $22m (Euro25.6m) to POPs-related assistance since 1997, "including a planned $3.5m for this fiscal year."

The joint statement noted that the US "worked closely with other countries to reach a broad consensus on an ambitious interim work plan that will focus on ways to quickly address the twelve chemicals targeted in the treaty."

And, the State and EPA announcement added, "Once in force, the Convention's dynamic provisions permit the addition of other POPs chemicals."

The POPs treaty was adopted yesterday by delegates from 127 nations at the Convention for Implementing International Action on Certain Persistent Organic Pollutants in Stockholm. Those nations that did not sign the Convention document today have up to a year to do so. The treaty goes into effect once 50 nations have ratified it, a process that might take as long as three or four years. But some delegates expressed hope the treaty could be ratified in time for a UN summit on sustainable development next year in South Africa.

The 12 toxic chemicals targeted for elimination or drastic reductions in use include DDT, dioxins, PCBs, heptachlor and toxaphene. The ten POPs that are manufactured products - dioxin and furan are by-products of other processes. They are no longer produced in the US and most industrialised nations.

The US EPA and State Department statement noted that "The US has already banned or severely restricted the production, use, sale and/or release of these chemicals. However, many countries have taken little or no action."

Saying the global treaty signed today in Stockholm is "necessary, urgent and in the national interest," the Bush administration said it "plans to move swiftly to submit the treaty for the advice and consent of the US Senate."

By: Joe Kamalick
+1 713 525 2653

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