Mercury Storage and Disposal LAC Two Countries/Binational Project

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25 Νοε 2013 (πριν από 4 χρόνια και 1 μήνα)

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Mercury Storage and Disposal LAC Two Countries/Binational Project

Project Results Workshop (25 to 26 April 2012, Buenos Aires, Argentina)

Draft report prepared by the international consultant

April 30, 2012



First day. April 25.


1.

Dr. Leila Devia from BCRC in Buenos Aires welcomed the participants to the workshop and
introduced the speakers at the opening ceremony: Dr. Desiree M. Narvaez, Programme
Officer, UNEP; Ing. Daniel Lupi, Gerente General at INTI (General Manager); Lic Adria
na Rosso,
Directora Ambiente at INTI (Director for Environment branch); and Lic.
Pablo Issaly, Unidad de
Sustancias y Productos Químicos, Secretaría de Ambiente y Desarrollo Sustentable
(Unit for
chemical substances and products, Secretariat for Environmen
t and Sustainable
Developement).



2.

UNEP presented the project mandate, background, objectives, relevance to INC process,
expected activities and outcomes.


3.

Uruguay
presented its mercury waste storage project and results of its mercury inventory.
Most volum
e of waste comes from the Chor
-
alkali plant
, which is expected to switch to non
-
Hg technology sometime in between 2012
-
2013. The current situation in the country has
established that
hazardous waste management is now a national priority in Uruguay
.
DINAMA
is working on and supporting a project to initiate soon the
operation of a retort to
distillate mercury from Hg added products in Uruguay
.


4.

During Argentina’s first intervention, the BCRC mentioned that in the Project development
process, the RC is not an

authority and when they ask for information to the different sources
in Argentina, it is difficult to get it. But they constitute a means of communication among the
three government levels and also the Center brings them information on international issue
s,
and also provides them with different kinds of support.



5.

Uruguay presented its regulatory framework revision. Being not a federal republic, Uruguay
presents different conditions than those in Argentina
, apart from being a much smaller
country. The National law on environment is a reference for waste management, but
there is
no legal instrument specifically addressed to hazardous waste management,

although there
is a Technical Waste Proposal, which is us
ed as a reference but is not a formal instrument
approved and passed by the national legislative.
The new Waste Act (including HW) is
expected to be published in the second half of 2012.

Other legal instruments were
described, dealing with municipal and me
dical waste, international agreements (Basel,
Rotterdam).


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6.

Uruguay presented its potential sites inventory, initially describing the process followed in
this activity using the specific tool for this purpose and different
-
scale maps to show the
location of

all of the potential sites. A brief description for the most important sites was given.
It was highlighted the fact that
Uruguay does not consume coal for energy production
(it
mostly comes from fuel oil and biomass burning, this last increasing due to wo
od burning at
industrial plants);
gold mining is neither a problem as

mercury is not associated to this metal
in Uruguay. As for medical waste treatment facilities, it was pointed out that as the
correspondent legal instrument does not call for mercury was
te separation at the source,
it is
likely that there are Hg releases at these facilities (incinerator, autoclave
). Also a brief
description of the approved fluorescent lamps treatment technologies was given, including
drawbacks and shortcomings given the o
perational conditions; unfortunately these facilities
are located at a highly populated area together with other facilities (landfill and dumpsites).
Uruguay concluded that its
best options for temporary Hg waste are the chlor
-
alkali plant
currently in ope
ration, and a public
-
private security landfill currently under construction
,
each site having particular advantages and disadvantages.


7.

Argentina

presented its legal framework revision. Even when there is a particular instrument
for hazardous waste, there are no specific instruments for mercury waste; it is not likely that
Argentina will have in the short term a specific legal instrument (act) for
mercury and mercury
wastes control.
A major issue comes from the fact of the autonomy of the provinces face to
the federal government; an immediate consequence of this condition is that all but three
provinces in Argentina prohibit the incoming of HW into
their territory

(and often this is
repeated within one province). Also, the Hazardous Waste Act is and “adhesion” act, which
means that the provinces may adhere or not to this act. By law, the provinces are the owners
of their natural resources and they of
ten complain for the intromission of the federal
government in this field.
Main environmental issues in Argentina now are: Hg, GHS,
pesticides and polluted sites. The country asks for adequate definition for elemental
mercury, mercury waste.



8.

Argentina pr
esented its Hg releases inventory elaborated now for specific source sectors
(energy consumption, chlor
-
alkali, health). As in Uruguay, Argentina practically does not
consume coal for energy production, nor crude oil; equally, biomass is consumed for energ
y
production at private facilities for self
-
consumption.
Only one chlor
-
alkali plant
(out of six)

uses mercury cells in its process, having 28 tons of elemental mercury commodity grade
ready to be sold
. For health sector inventory

(thermometers and sphygmo
manometers), real

country input factors were used, not the default factors included in the Toolkit.
Results for
dental amalgam are surprisingly high,
especially when compared to energy sector d

ata.
There is a legal instrument instructing hospitals not to
buy Hg
-
containing devices, and
another one prohibits the import of Hg sphygmomanometers.
The thimerosal plant imports
HgCl
2
,

as there is no national production. It was pointed out that
UNEP toolkit does not
include input factors for certain sectors, a situ
ation that should be improved.



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9.

INTI engineers presented a technical option for mercury waste disposal

they have been
studying recently. It was originally conceived for nuclear waste disposal, with previous
references in Canada and Spain, and it consist
s of a three barrier confinement for Hg waste,
using basically a primary container and steel and concrete structures, and a final earth cover
on top.
Good results have been obtained on structural behavior, durability and
penetrability
. This option has bee
n studied for stabilized waste but not for elemental
mercury, although it could be possible. Costs are not available yet, but they are the
conventional costs for steel reinforced concrete structures; duration of 300 years is estimated
for this alternative
.

Presenters received encouraging comments from the audience to
continue research on this option
.


10.

Argentina presented the approved version of the Basel Convention Technical Guidelines for
Mercury waste.


11.

Uruguay presented its technological options review.
It was mentioned that the vapor
pressure is not considered among the criteria for mercury waste disposal, as BIPRO suggests,
and Uruguay considers that this proposal should be followed because of the mercury high
volatility.


12.

The Asociación Argentina de M
édicos por el Medio Ambiente presented the work done by
this NGO related to communication and information on mercury issues. The contents of one
booklet in Spanish were presented, although it was informed that contents corresponding to
other eighteen bookl
ets are already available; possibly the final number will be twenty. The
booklets have not been printed, but the contents will be available at the project website and
the intention is that the public will download and print and distribute the booklets.


13.

Argentina and Uruguay presented in a single session advances on their decision making
process. In Uruguay to date the process has been somehow informal and although they have
worked towards DINAMA’s related issues,
there are several tasks still pending, in
cluding the
national action plan elaboration
. It was informed that
in April the chlor
-
alkali plant will
present a proposal to manage their waste; also that DINAMA is evaluating and supporting a
distillation (retort) process for mercury waste in products
. A
rgentina reported that the
national working group is based on the same group that worked for the Minimization and
Sound Management of mercury containing
waste (chlor
-
alkali sector)
project; some of the
participants are the same. Several issues have been di
scussed in the group, such as the
information questionnaires, UNEP´s toolkit for mercury releases, INTI’s technical proposal for
mercury waste storage, and difficulties encountered to find potential storage sites. Chlor
-
alkali plant representative informed

that the company decided to participate openly in this
process, given that they are a current Eurochlor member and therefore they have a strong
interest in the project; they are the only plant operating with mercury cells in Argentina. Their
mercury stock

in the process cells reaches an amount of 160 metric tons.



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Second day. April 26.

14.

Uruguay presented the preliminary guidelines for its national action plan, linked to the results
obtained from its mercury releases inventory.
Dental amalgam sector
was highlighted as a
priority for Uruguay, where it is necessary to go deeper as this is a very complex sector
. On
hazardous waste storage, DINAMA is approving this activity at the source on a temporary
basis while better options are offered in Uruguay; th
is is the case for the chlor
-
alkali plant.
Other sources for mercury waste are a couple of lighthouses on the coast, keeping each one a
bucket of mercury plus a certain stock for replacement.
Public information, awareness
raising and capacity building are
important issues which will be considered in the action
plan
.
It was suggested that the action plan should describe how the lamps and the new
retort issues will be addressed; also, considering that Uruguay lacks of enough legal
instruments, it should be de
scribed in the action plan the way in which the chlor
-
alkali plant
or the security landfill will be used as alternate options for mercury waste storage.


15.

Before presenting its national action plan guidelines, Argentina gave a short introduction
mentioning

the convenience to integrate a permanent group and the need to inform the
public. It was also mentioned
that Argentina has a very limited knowledge of its mercury
release sources, as the inventory is not complete, and mercury hotspots in the country are
y
et to be located.
Once this information becomes at hand, available technologies will be
evaluated and regulatory problems will be detected. It was mentioned that it is a positive
attitude from Argentina to recognize the lack of knowledge. As for the natio
nal action plan, a
proposal for its contents was presented including five general elements.
The need to take
clear steps regarding the regulatory framework was pointed out when there are now
results from an inventory. It was also suggested to use the Tool
kit Level 2 in order to get
better information. The need to incorporate the mining sector was stressed as it is an
important stakeholder, and also it is necessary to involve the Ministry of Mining in this
process. T
he already initiated contact among instit
utions in the working group will be kept
through periodical meetings; the group might work for other agendas as well. Argentina
mentioned that following a request made by the mining sector, it was clarified that when
government officials in this workshop
mention the lack of information from that sector, they
refer to the Ministry of Mining and not to the mining companies. UNEP offered to provide the
participants with a framework which both countries could use for their national action plans
elaboration.



16.

After listening to the presentations and discussions on mercury issues, UNEP suggested
watching a short video available at UNEP’s website, in Spanish, dealing with mercury waste
handling at hospitals (Cleanup and Temporary Storage of Mercury Waste for H
ealth Care
Facilities).



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17.

Argentina continued with a description of the potential sites for the temporary storage of
waste mercury in the country, mainly the facilities authorized for the hazardous waste
treatment/final disposal currently in operation. An

interesting discussion followed the
presentation, initially related to the different methodologies authorized to treat the mercury
waste (from products and chlor
-
alkali) previous to its disposal
;
several shortcomings were
mentioned.
Later, important issue
s were raised such as the limitations coming from the
regulatory framework and the
difficulties for the interprovincial transportation; the need to
use the right terminology was stressed during the discussion
.


Finally, after a participant’s
request, the c
hlor
-
alkali representative gave an ample description of the treatment process
currently applied to their mercury containing waste before final disposal.


18.

UNEP presented the synthesis and analysis of the two countries’ project reports, including
reco
mmendations.


19.

During the afternoon session, participants from each country worked in separated groups in
developing
the national action plan
s
.