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U.S. SIGNS CONVENTION ON PERSISTENT ORGANIC POLLUTANTS

Release Date: 05/23/2001
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Environmental News

FOR RELEASE: WEDNESDAY, MAY 23, 2001

U.S. SIGNS CONVENTION ON PERSISTENT ORGANIC POLLUTANTS

Steffanie Bell 202-564-6976

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of State have issued today a joint statement on the U.S. signing of the Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. Following is the text:

Following up on the commitment of President George W. Bush to sign the global treaty on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), EPA Administrator Christie Whitman today signed the Convention on behalf of the United States in Stockholm, Sweden. Ministers from over ninety countries joined the U.S. in signing the treaty. The United States, among the very first to call for a global POPs Convention, provided strong leadership in Stockholm to bring this important environmental treaty to a successful conclusion.

President Bush, in a Rose Garden ceremony on April 19, attended by Secretary of State Powell and Administrator Whitman, strongly supported this agreement to rid the world of these highly toxic chemicals and pesticides. The President hailed the treaty as one that would safeguard the health of Americans, particularly those most at risk, such as native Alaskans, while extending a helping hand to developing countries.

In her address to the Diplomatic Conference, Administrator Whitman stressed the U.S. commitment to continued strong leadership on POPs. She noted that the United States donated $22 million to POPs-related assistance since 1997, including a planned $3.5 million for this fiscal year. The United States was praised by UN officials for its consistent and strong financial support for the negotiations.

The United States worked closely with other countries to reach a broad consensus on an ambitious interim work plan that will focus on ways to quickly address the twelve chemicals targeted in the treaty. Once in force, the Convention’s dynamic provisions permit the addition of other POPs chemicals.

Due to their unique characteristics, POPS, which include substances such as DDT, PCBs and dioxins, are chemicals of both local and global concern. POPs are toxic, persist in the environment for long periods of time, and accumulate as they move up the food chain.

The Administration plans to move swiftly to submit the treaty for the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate. A global agreement is necessary, urgent and in the national interest because POPs released abroad can affect the health and environment of all Americans. The U.S. has already banned or severely restricted the production, use, sale and/or release of these chemicals. However, many countries have taken little or no action.

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