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Mercury-related crimes in Indonesia still elude

Mercury-related crimes in Indonesia still elude

Mercury-related crimes elude all, for which involvement of influential leaders or actors, who can bring about changes or influence policies, is deemed necessary, so that the seized mercury can enter the storage area.

"What needs to be ascertained is where there are bottlenecks that can be addressed," senior analyst at Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime (GITOC) Marcena Hunter stated in Jakarta during the initial workshop on supply reduction and the availability of mercury in Indonesia on Monday.

Hunter noted that the government needs to overcome the regulatory gap before it implements policies in accordance with the Minamata Convention. Best solutions need to be sought for optimal implementation of the results of the Minamata Convention.

Researcher from the Center for Regulation, Policy and Governance (CRPG) Dyah Paramita remarked that the temporary finding indicates the government continues to allow sinambar and its refining and mining as long as permits are obtained under Coal Mining Number 4 of 2009.

"In essence, sinambar is a source of mercury. In fact, there is no ban on sinambar that is a source of mercury," Paramita remarked at the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK) in Central Jakarta on Monday.

Furthermore, Paramita noted that mercury and mercury compounds are hazardous and toxic materials that are of limited use.

"This is based on Government Regulation Number 74 of 2001. It has not been banned. So far, it has permission from the competent government. It still may be used," Paramita pointed out.

Moreover, mercury chloride and mercury oxide are hazardous and toxic materials that can be used without special permission. Furthermore, Mercury (HS No. 2805.40.00) can still be exported as long as there is a KLHK notification letter in accordance with the Indonesian National Single Window (INSW) and meets export procedures.

Imports of mercury are only banned for HS number 2805.40.40 and for permit holders engaged in the gold mining industry. Hence, the repercussion is that the import of mercury, with different HS numbers, can yet be conducted by non-mining industry permit holders.

Furthermore, the distribution of mercury is only prohibited for HS number 2805.40.00 and for holders of the gold mining industry permit.

Online mercury trade continues unabated. We can still observe traders, who have free platforms through blogs or e-commerce, and create their own social media accounts to promote their mercury merchandise.

Furthermore, in the health sector, the licenses for medical devices were only distributed until December 31, 2018. Beyond that date, medical devices must be withdrawn and destroyed in accordance with KLHK regulations.

Moreover, Paramita stated that the maximum permissible limit of mercury in drinking water is 0.001 milligrams per liter, while the maximum desirable limit in standard food and beverages is 0.001 milligrams to 1.0 parts per million (ppm).

The Ministry of Agriculture has banned the use of mercury and mercury compounds in pesticides since 2015. Moreover, the national standards to reduce mercury emissions from coal- and oil-fired power plants had been finalized.

The government has yet to set standards for the management of mercury in the oil and gas industry. Paramita stated that perhaps SKK Migas, the Special Task Force for Implementing Upstream Oil and Gas Business Activities, is also awaiting the government’s policy guidelines on how the mercury is generated from their activities.

Also, the storage time limit for hazardous and toxic materials is restricted, at 90, 180, and 365 days, based on the nature of the hazard category. Larger categories are getting longer.

The initial recommendations for this finding were first that synambarine and sinambar purification must be banned, as it is a source of mercury.

"Perhaps later, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources is expected to issue special instructions that prohibit mining and refining," Paramita remarked.

Second, mercury and its compounds must be regulated, as hazardous and toxic materials, whose use is banned and not limited to certain code numbers, and they must not be exported and imported.

Revocation or revision of Ministerial Regulation No. 23 of 2008 regulating small-scale mining activities is deemed necessary.

"The need to reduce gold and cyanide was also mentioned. However, now, it cannot be reduced anymore, but it must be banned," Paramita noted.

Special rules need to be regulated on rehabilitation of land with mercury contamination as well as a review of Mnisterial Regulation No. 33 of 2009 that does not specifically discuss the matter of mercury.

Guidelines for emissions and mercury management in oil and gas activities are also deemed necessary and necessitate guidelines or standards, such as Indonesian National Standard or ISO ( International Organization for Standardization) free of mercury on consumer products or health, so that consumers can choose mercury-free products.

Furthermore, it is crucial to review law enforcement in the procurement of mercury online and interventions for recirculation, reused, and recovered mercury.

Director of the Management of Hazardous and Toxic Materials  of the Directorate General of Waste and Hazardous and Toxic Materials  Management of KLHK, Yun Insiani, stated that reducing and eliminating mercury posed a major challenge, for which legitimizing Presidential Regulation No. 21 of 2019 was deemed significant.

"In this regulation we know that PP 74 of 2001, which is currently being revised, has been included in the Ministry of Law and Human Rights several times, but no agreement was reached with the Ministry of Industry regarding the hazardous and toxic materials list," Insiani stated on Monday.

The Ministry of Industry is also drafting a Chemical Law that is also similar to a government regulation on management of hazardous and toxic materials management.

"Hence, this is a sectoral ego problem. A solution is expected to soon be found, as we want this to become a law enforcement platform," Yun stated.