UN Bans Mercury Satellite Propellants Under Unusual Minamata Treaty Provisions


Monday, March 28, 2022


Kevin Bell, PEER, (202) 265-7337(x108); [email protected]

Michael Bender, ZMWG, 802-917-8222; [email protected]

Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, EEB, +32 496 53 28 18; [email protected]

Bali, Indonesia—On Saturday, the United Nations adopted a provision to section out the insist of mercury as a satellite tv for computer propellant by 2025 at some stage in the Fourth Meeting of the Convention of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury. Public pastime NGOs who had been following the divulge carefully since 2018 applauded the ban, which culminates years of efforts to slump wanting one instituted.

“We admire Canada and Switzerland’s management in ushering by a treaty amendment to ban mercury as a satellite tv for computer propellant,” acknowledged Michael Bender, Coordinator of the Zero Mercury Working Neighborhood. “Now companies can’t conceal unhurried bogus claims of ‘CBI’ to sneak their hazardous proposals by some unsuspecting authorities outdoors of the US.”

The reason for the proposed amendment by Canada and Switzerland was based fully, at the least in section, upon:

“…domestic reporting on import and sort as well to data equipped by the ad-hoc knowledgeable community, there seem to be technically and economically feasible mercury-free selections…[for banning mercury as a] propellant for satellite tv for computer and spacecraft.”

Since experiments in the 1970s, NASA and the advise commerce recognized that the dangers connected to mercury fuels in satellites made it a ‘ineffective gasoline.’ It is miles low label and easy to make insist of in ion propulsion engines nonetheless impossible to make insist of safely. No topic this fundamental idea at the least one US firm was intent in 2018 to insist this low label gasoline attributable to the lack of US regulatory restrictions on mercury in advise.

“No one nation can give protection to the planet from one other’s rapid-sighted profit-wanting for or regulatory blindness” acknowledged Public Workers for Environmental Duty (PEER) Team Counsel Kevin Bell, pointing to the failure of US regulators to observe any environmental review to orbital activities. “If what goes up have to reach down, we must for all time pay better consideration to what goes up.”

PEER’s quiz in 2018 that the Federal Communications Commission conduct environmental review earlier than approving communication satellite tv for computer “megaconstellations” was the first public acknowledgment of the doubtless enormous-scale revival of mercury in outer advise. It explained that factual one proposed communications network the insist of the expertise can even consequence in hundreds of metric hundreds further mercury releases into the upper ambiance. Since then, the utility of US environmental rules to outer advise has been the topic of ongoing litigation.

“The Minamata Convention on Mercury seeks to place away with all mercury uses the save technically-achievable non-mercury selections are accessible,” acknowledged Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, ZMWG Coordinator at the European Environmental Bureau. “Within the case of satellite tv for computer propulsion programs, mercury-free selections had been accessible and veteran for decades.”

In step with a compare paper submission to the UN from the Norwegian Authorities, mercury insist as a propellant gifts a essential menace globally:

“Mercury is unquestionably some of the payment efficient and intensely best to store propellants for electrical propulsion. While some mercury launched in Low Earth Orbit can even objective ride Earth’s gravitational discipline, mercury emissions originating from many identical outdated orbital maneuvers will return to Earth. The environmental and human health implications of such releases fetch not been evaluated. The utilization of an atmospheric chemical transport model, we simulate global deposition of mercury launched from satellite tv for computer propulsion programs. We estimate that 75% of the mercury falling succor to Earth shall be deposited in the sphere’s oceans, with potentially harmful implications for business fish and varied marine life.”

Mercury is a potent bio-accumulative neurotoxin. The Minamata Convention on Mercury obligates its 137 parties to raise steps to decrease mercury uses releases and exposures to mercury. The U.S. was the first signatory.


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