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Friday, July 12, 2019

APEC Chile seminar addresses mercury contamination of the oceans

Viña del Mar, July 12, 2019.- In the context of the sustainable growth priority of APEC Chile 2019, the Environmental Management of Products with Added Mercury and Ocean Contamination Prevention seminar was held July 9-11 at Hotel Enjoy in Viña del Mar. The event was organized by Chile’s Environment Ministry and APEC Chile 2019.

The meeting provided an opportunity for technical capacity building and sharing international experience on mercury risks and the environmental impact of the substance in order to design plans, policies and programs to prevent mercury contamination of the ocean and promote the sale of technologies and mercury-free products among APEC economies, because the material is currently a significant contaminant around the globe.

The seminar was attended by APEC Chile 2019 SOM Chair Mathias Francke; the Environment Ministry’s Environmental Risk Coordinator, Cristián Brito; Rocío Millán, who holds a doctorate in the Sciences and represents the Energy, Environment and Technology Research Center (CIEMAT); and UN Technology and Metals Program Team Leader Eisaku Toda, as well as other public and private sector specialists from APEC member economies.

“The event was organized not only to raise awareness of the risks of mercury, but also to promote and incentivize trade among the APEC economies in new higher-tech products that are safer for people and the environment. The goal is to replace products that contain mercury and minimize the damage that they cause to marine ecosystems,” said Mathias Francke.

The seminar consisted of two parts. The first two days included technical presentations and exchanges of experiences around international agreements on oceans and biodiversity, products to which mercury is added and mercury-free alternatives. Participants also learned about cases involving the effects of mercury on the environment and human health.

On the third day, representatives of APEC economies conducted a technical visit to the Chilean Navy Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service (Servicio Hidrográfico y Oceanográfico de la Armada de Chile, S.H.O.A.), touring its labs and the Oceanographic Monitoring Rooms in which water, biota and sediment samples are collected in order to evaluate marine biodiversity.