Laws on disposal of mercury waste will be stricter in 2021

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Laws on disposal of mercury waste will be stricter in 2021

Korea will enforce stricter regulation of mercury waste beginning in 2021, the Ministry of Environment said Monday.

The ministry said it will post a notice on a change to the Waste Control Act in the government gazette for 40 days beginning Tuesday.

The amendment calls for including mercury and mercury compounds in a set of designated harmful wastes subject to special treatment.

Under the new rule, mercury waste must be disposed of separately from other forms of waste. Mercury will have to be removed before thermometers, batteries and other products are disposed of.

The new ordinance also stipulates mercury must be put in sealed containers and permanently stored in specific facilities.

The revision will be enforced in 2021, one year after the public notification is made, the ministry said.

The toughened measure has been devised in line with the Minamata Convention on Mercury, which takes effect in the country in late February next year.

The agreement aimed at curbing mercury pollution was signed in 2013 and came into force in 2017. The convention was named after the southern Japanese city where a severe neurological disorder caused by mercury poisoning left thousands of people with disabilities in the late 1950s.

“The amendment is an enactment of the environment-friendly standards of treatment of mercury waste recommended by the Minamata Convention. The government will continue to make efforts to prevent environmental damage from waste of mercury-containing products,” Lee Young-ki, director of resource circulation policy at the ministry, said.

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