Western Cape develops mercury emissions inventory

August 2011, Western Cape, South Africa -The Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (D: EA&DP) has developed a mercury emissions inventory of the Province, following the methodology proposed in UNEP’s Toolkit for the Identification and Quantification for Mercury Emissions.

The provincial inventory will feed information into the national inventory, providing examples of the main sources of mercury emissions that can be found at the local level. D:EA&DP identified medical waste incineration, waste water effluent, sludge disposal to land and landfills, coal combustion, dental amalgams and manometers as the most significant sources of mercury in the province. In addition, the Province is also preparing a plan to work on the sound management of these sources of emissions. These activities are part of a project supported by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) and On 18-19 August, D:EA&DP held a workshop to present the inventory and an outline of the risk management plan to all stakeholders. The event provided an opportunity to discuss the findings of the inventory and the need to establish partnerships among sectors to implement the risk management plan, aiming to the reduction of adverse effects of mercury to human health and the environment. The workshop included presentations by several experts on the existing initiatives in Western Cape and South Africa for the sound management of mercury. During the workshop, UNITAR shared experiences of other countries that have developed mercury emissions inventories.

The development of mercury emissions inventories based in the standardized methodology of the toolkit enables countries and regions to obtain comparable data on mercury emission sources and the scale of the releases, which helps to establish a global picture and to identify international goals towards mercury sound management. These initiatives follow the recognition of mercury as a chemical of global concern due to its long-range transport in the atmosphere and its significant negative effects on human health and the environment.  Data obtained in the inventories is an important contribution to the discussions by the intergovernmental negotiating committee that will develop a global legally binding instrument on mercury, under the auspices of UNEP.