Monday, March 1, 2010


      Jakarta, March 1, 2010 (ANTARA) - As a vast archipelago country, Indonesia has at least 2,000 locations which are potential entry points of illegal imports of hazardous and chemical wastes.
      Therefore, it was not a surprise when Environment Minister Prof Gusti 0Muhammad Hatta recently said that Indonesia was vulnerable to illegal trafficking in hazardous substances and wastes.
       "We believe that international cooperation and agreements, at both global and regional level, are crucial in tackling these challenges," the minister said in his opening address at the Simultaneous Extraordinary Meetings of the Conferences of the Parties (COPS) to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, which was held in Nusa Dua, Bali Province, Feb. 22-24.

      The meeting which was organized by UNEP (United Nations Environment Program), attended by around 1,200 participants from 135 countries.
      Indonesia is signatory to several international conventions, and the Basel and Stockholm Conventions.
      The 1989 Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal is the most comprehensive global environmental agreement on hazardous and other wastes. It has over 160 Parties and aims to protect human health and the environment against the adverse effects resulting from the generation, management, transboundary movements and disposal of hazardous and other wastes.

It has two pillars, firstly, it regulates the transboundary movements of hazardous and other wastes. Secondly, the Convention obliges its parties to ensure that such wastes are managed and disposed of in an environmentally sound manner (ESM).

Reports from the convention`s signatory nations suggest that there are at least 8.5 million tons of hazardous waste moving between countries each year.

Indonesia hosts the Basel Convention Regional Center for South East Asia (BCR-SEA). Indonesia and Switzerland were both involved in the Country-Led Initiative (CLI) on the Ban Amendment of the Basel Convention, according to Minister Hatta.

The Stockholm convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) obliges each party to take measures to curb the release of pollutants into the environment. POPs are toxic chemicals that remain in the environment for a long period and can accumulate in the fatty tissue of living organisms.

The convention bans 12 chemicals, known as the `dirty dozen`, because they do not break down easily in the natural environment, can travel long distances, and accumulate in human and animal tissue.

Thanks to international cooperation, Indonesia was able to prevent the entry of nine containers of e-waste (electronic waste) from the United States last November 2009.

"Last night, I congratulated the Indonesian environmental affairs minister for the Indonesian authorities` diligent action," Jim Puckett, coordinator of the Basel Action Network (BAN), said in the UNEP meeting in Nusa Dua, last week (Feb. 22).

The e-waste coming from Massachusetts was about to enter Semarang, Central Java, last November. But, thanks to a tip-off from BAN, Indonesian authorities managed to foil the smuggling attempt.

Old cathode ray tubes or computer monitors in the nine containers were considered hazardous e-waste for containing lead, he said.

He said e-waste was a problem which could poison the people. Some children working in electronic companies have lead in their blood which later could damage their brain. A similar problems could be found in China, India and Nigeria, he said.

In accordance with Indonesia`s law, hazardous import was banned, while for the US, which has not yet ratified the Basel Convention, the export was legal, he said.

An attempt was made to dump used computer monitors in Indonesia because it was cheaper to export than recycle them, he said.

Besides the US, Afghanistan and Haiti are yet to ratify the Basel Convention.

Information from WALHI (Indonesian Environmental Forum) said in 1992, Tanjung Priok Harbor in Jakarta was inundated with 116 shipping containers of imported wastes. According to the Environmental Protection Agency , the composition of this waste is 60% recyclable plastic, 30% unrecyclable plastic, and 10% hazardous wastes.

In December 1993, the hazardous waste sent by European Community countries reached 633,638 tonnes of hazardous waste and 518,138 non-hazardous waste yearly. In 1994, the Environmental Protection Agency recorded 500 shipping containers of imported waste entering Indonesia.

In October 2007, Indonesia`s Customs officers confiscated 40 metric tons of CFC-11 (Trichloromonofluoromethane atau freon 11) and CFC-12 (Dichlorodifluoromethane) from Tanjung Mas Seaport, Semarang.

The CFC-11 and CFC-12 labeled as HCFC-141b, was imported from Qing Dao Port, China, with Singapore as a transit country, according to Tony Riduan Simorangkir, Head of the Intelligence Section of the Indonesian Customs and Excise Directorate General told participants of a Special Dialogue on Actions for Controlling and monitoring ODS Trade in South Asia and Southeast Asia, organized on the sidelines of UNEP workshop, in Sanur, in November 2007.

Meanwhile, according to UNEP`s 2007 data, international crime syndicates earned US$22-31 billion annually from environmental crimes, one of the most profitable and growing criminal activities after drug trafficking.

"International crime syndicates earn US$22-31 billion annually from hazardous waste dumping, smuggling proscribed hazardous materials, exploiting and trafficking of protected natural resources and illegal trade of Ozone depleting substances (ODS)," Atul Bagai, regional coordinator of the UNEP Regional office for Asia and the Pacific said in Sanur, in November 2007.

"There is a strong link between terrorism and environmental crimes. Terrorists could get a lot of money from the environmental crimes. As environmental crimes are not yet fully addressed, the smugglers take opportunities from these," Atul Bagai said.

Customs officers were mostly not aware of regulations on ODS and hazardous wastes, or unable to identify ODS, hazardous wastes and protected natural resources, he said.

"If you address environmental crimes, you might also address terrorism," he said.

(T. F001/A/HAJM/17:25/a014)
(T.F001/A/F001/A/A014) 01-03-2010 20:30:59

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