Taiwan to ban imports, exports of products with mercury: EPA

In this file photo, a woman passes a tent in the shape of a large drop of mercury by the Palace of the League of Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, 28 Septmeber 2017. The tent serves the purpose of warning about the health risks of the highly toxic heavy metal. The mercury drop was realiyed in cooperation with the secretary of the Minamata Convention on Mercury and the network of Plastique Fantastique, based in Berlin. The focus of the Minamata Convention on Mercury is reducing the emission of mercury. Photo by: Christiane Oelrich/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
In this file photo, a woman passes a tent in the shape of a large drop of mercury by the Palace of the League of Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, 28 Septmeber 2017. The tent serves the purpose of warning about the health risks of the highly toxic heavy metal. The mercury drop was realiyed in cooperation with the secretary of the Minamata Convention on Mercury and the network of Plastique Fantastique, based in Berlin. The focus of the Minamata Convention on Mercury is reducing the emission of mercury. Photo by: Christiane Oelrich/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan plans to prohibit the imports and exports of nine types of products containing mercury starting in 2020 in line with the United Nations Minamata Convention on Mercury, an Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) official said Wednesday.

The ban, to cover such items as mercury thermometers and mercury tubes, is the latest step taken to keep mercury out of the environment following a 2017 ban on the production of mercury products, said Hsieh Yen-ju (謝燕儒), the head of the EPA’s Toxins and Chemical Substances Bureau, at a seminar on a toxic-free homeland.

Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations, but it has nonetheless followed global trends to control the usage and spread of mercury, Hsieh said.

Determined to more rigorously manage other chemical substances as well, the EPA will also require manufacturers and importers of 106 listed chemical substances to register with the government, he said.

Another speaker at the seminar, EPA chief Chang Tzi-chin (張子敬), said the chemical industry made major contributions to early periods of Taiwan’s economic development but also harmed the environment because of less than ideal pollution controls during the manufacturing process.

To counter that type of pollution, the EPA has collaborated with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and other government agencies to devise measures to strengthen pollution controls.

It has also set up a soil pollution and groundwater pollution remediation fund to prevent heavy metals from entering groundwater and keep food supplies safe, Chang said.

By Chang Hsiung-feng and Evelyn Kao