Basseterre, St. Kitts, March 24, 2017 (SKNIS): The St. Kitts and Nevis Bureau of Standards (SKNBS) recently hosted a Minamata Initial Assessment (MIA) workshop on Mercury with the aim of bringing awareness to citizens and residents on the dangers of mercury.
The Basel Convention Regional Centre (BCRC) is the executing agency for the MIA project and national coordinators in each participating country, namely, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica, were hired in order to get the project up and running.
The BCRC is the regional office of the United Nations Environmental Programme that helps countries in the Caribbean who are parties to the Basel Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions to implement and comply with these conventions.
Dr. Ahmad Khan, Director of BCRC, outlined the purpose of the project, adding that it is twofold.
“It is to give each of these Caribbean countries an understanding of issues relating to mercury and the mass flow of mercury through our territory,” said Director Khan. “The second reason why this project is being done in the Caribbean is because the convention on mercury and its control, the Minamata Convention, is due for entry into force sometime around September this year. It requires a few other countries to become parties or signatories to the convention before it comes into force and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) is providing free money for enabling activities for countries to do these assessments.”
Dr. Khan said it is BCRC’s hope within the Caribbean region for the four countries that have already started and the four additional ones that are yet to join, namely, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada and Dominica, to be able to decide whether or not it is important to sign on to the Convention and then make the Convention come into force.
Helen Douglas, National Coordinator for the inventory section of the MIA, said that an important outcome of the project for St. Kitts and Nevis is to establish a full nationwide inventory report. “The goal is to produce a national mercury profile and this would determine the extent of mercury pollution in the nation,” she said.
Dr. Marcus Natta, Science and Research Manager at SKNBS, said that as it relates to mercury and mercury added products, his institution has done a bit of inventory work, thus enabling St. Kitts and Nevis to do well in that regard. He used the orange street lights in the federation as an example, noting that they are mercury vapor street lamps. He said that both of the electricity companies on the island have started to phase out the lights and replace them with light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs. Dr. Natta noted that dentists have made significant strides in phasing out the use of mercury as they no longer use amalgam but instead, composite resin or white fillings.