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Stockholm Convention

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants is a global treaty created to protect human health and the environment from persistent organic pollutants (POPs). More than 100 countries negotiated this treaty in 2001, with the U.S. playing a leading role in pushing for international action to ban or

severely restrict the production, and/or release of these chemicals.

use, sale The U.S.

has not as yet ratified the Convention, but this is expected during the Obama Administration.

Of the twelve chemicals initially named in the Convention, nine chemicals are listed in Annex A with the intent for global elimination, of which PCBs are named. The Convention is unequivocal in its mandate that Annex A chemicals, such as PCBs, must be destroyed or irreversibly transformed so that they no longer

exhibit the characteristics of POPs.

Article 6 (d) of the Convention provides that each Party must: “Take appropriate measures so that such wastes, including products and articles upon becoming wastes, are:

(ii) Disposed of in such a way that the

OECD

On December 14, 1960, 20 nations adopted the Convention on the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to promote a global market economy. Today, the OECD is composed of 31 of the most developed nations in the world; the U.S. being one of the original members.31

In order to achieve its goals, the OECD can promulgate decisions that are generally binding on its members. OECD Decision C(87)2/Final

31 Article V, Convention on the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

LEGAL FRAMEWORK

persistent organic pollutant content is destroyed or irreversibly transformed so that they do not exhibit the characteristics of persistent organic pollutants or otherwise

manner when

destruction

transformation

does not

environmentally

preferable

represent

the

option

or

the

disposed of in

an environmentally sound

or

irreversible

persistent organic pollutant content is low,

taking

into

account

international

rules,

standards, and guidelines, including those that may be developed pursuant to paragraph 2, and relevant global and regional regimes governing the management of hazardous

wastes.”

The Basel

Convention

was

tasked

with

developing guidelines on PCB disposal, and in particular, setting low POP content levels to

work

cooperatively

with

the

Stockholm

Convention. The guidelines identify PCB concentrations of 50 ppm to be detrimental and should therefore require the destruction or irreversible transformation prior to disposal. However, U.S. SINKEX and reefing programs allow the dumping of vessels containing PCBs

in

concentrations

above

this

level.

focuses specifically on the disposal of PCBs and recommends that member countries, as far as

practicable,

ensure

that

disposal

of PCB

containing waste is carried out in a manner that avoids the release of PCBs into the environment.32 The U.S. fails to respect this recommendation in good faith by permitting the ocean disposal of PCBs that remain in naval

vessels

during

and

after

sinking.

32 Article III (2), Decision C(87)2/Final BASEL ACTION NETWORK

17

2011

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