ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Indonesia rust ratify chemicals treaty
The Indonesian Environment Ministry is pushing for the immediate ratification of an international treaty that will save Indonesia from being a haven for illegal toxic chemicals from other countries, an official said on Thursday.
The Rotterdam Convention, which Indonesia signed on Sept. 11, 1998, requires transparency in the use of hazardous chemicals and pesticides in exported products. However, Indonesia has yet to ratify the agreement, citing “procedural issues.”
Halimah Syafrul, assistant to the deputy environment minister for the management of toxic and dangerous chemicals, explained that being a party to the convention would mean that Indonesia would be able to properly monitor hazardous chemicals coming into the country.
“It’s about protecting our health and our environment,” she said, adding that most chemicals listed in the Rotterdam Convention have an elevated potential to cause cancers. For instance, Halimah said they were only able to monitor 806 kilograms of mercury entering the country in 2010 from two companies.
“However, we found that tons of mercury was used for small-scale mining,” she said.
The convention lists pesticides such as aldrin, DDT, dieldrin, chlorobenzilate and PCB as among those that parties must ensure exporting countries in their jurisdiction identify properly in their products.
Indonesia will only be able to access this information, according to Yazid Nurhuda, assistant to the deputy for international environmental agreements, if it is a party to the convention.
“So, for instance, if the United States wants to export to our country, they must disclose information on whether [the products] have substances that are dangerous or not,” he said. “Then we can decide whether we want to receive them or not.”
Yazid added that while the government issued a government regulation on toxic and hazardous chemicals management in 2001, its scope was too limited to solve waste-dumping disputes between countries.
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