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World Conference on Waste: Bali

Indonesia will host an international environmental conference in June to address efforts to reduce exports of hazardous waste from industrialized nations to developing countries. Rasio Ridho Sani, deputy assistant to environment minister for management of hazardous waste said environment ministers from 170 countries were expected for the ninth Basel Convention on the control of transboundry movement of hazardous waste. Scheduled to take place on June 23-27 in Bali, the conference is expected to bring together more than 1,000 delegates from developed and developing nations. The conference is set to be the second world event on environment that Indonesia will host after Bali’s UN Climate Change conference last December.

The Basel Convention was started in 1992 and obliges signatory countries to ensure waste is managed and disposed of in an environmentally sound way.

It says parties should set adequate disposal facilities for the waste and covers toxic, poisonous, explosive, corrosive, flammable, eco-toxic and infectious waste.

Some 168 countries have ratified the convention, excluding the U.S.

Indonesia, the world’s longest coastal area, ratified the convention in 1993.

“We are very vulnerable to illegal dumping of hazardous waste,” Rasio said.

Indonesia has more than 2,000 entry points along the coastal zone vulnerable to illegal dumps of hazardous waste.

Data from the State Minister for the Environment Office said since the 1980s Indonesia has become a dumping ground for hazardous and non-hazardous waste.

It says the government has accepted requests from foreign countries and companies to dump waste containing hydrocarbon.

This waste results after tankers are cleaned in Indonesian areas, including Tanjung Ucang on Batam Island.

The government has also re-exported tons of hazardous waste to its origin countries, including Singapore.

Japan is the biggest exporter of hazardous materials used for industry and agriculture sectors to Indonesia, sending 31 tons of waste in 2006.

Indonesia yields about seven million tons of hazardous waste per year — one quarter of which remains untreated as Adianto P. Simamora explains.

The country currently has one facility for the treatment of hazardous waste, PT Prasadha Pamunah Limbah Industry (PT PPLi) in Bogor, West Java, with a capacity of 100,000 tons.
Rasio said environment minister Rachmat Witoelar would be the new president of the conference of parties (COP) of the Basel Convention for the 2008-2010 period.

“Pak Rachmat is scheduled to visit the secretariat of the Basel Convention in Geneva this month to discuss issues that would be promoted during the Bali convention,” he said.