Thursday, September 18, 2014

PA Mercury Regulations Subject Of Visit With South Korean Envoy

Staff from DEP's Bureau of Waste Management recently met with Dr. Yongseok Hong, assistant professor of Environmental Engineering from Daegu University, Jillyang, South Korea, to discuss Pennsylvania’s regulations related to mercury.  
The visit was prompted by the recent creation of the international agreement to reduce mercury pollution, the Minamata Convention. The United States has already signed and ratified this agreement.
Dr. Hong is assisting the Republic of Korea with a research project on existing mercury regulations in the United States with the goal of building a new regulatory framework for Korean businesses and citizens. He was especially interested in how US businesses can recover more mercury and the most profitable methods to help with the transition of stricter regulations.
Current practices in Korea recover very low amounts of mercury and it has become a considerable public health concern and a worker safety problem.
The visit included a meeting with Deputy Secretary Vince Brisini, Waste Management Bureau Director Ken Reisinger, External Affairs Director Katherine Hetherington Cunfer, Policy Specialist Laura Henry, and staff from the Waste Management Program including Tom Mellott, Kevin Beer, and Glenn Mitzel to review Pennsylvania’s statutes, regulations, and policies related to mercury, especially the Hazardous Household Waste Program.  
Dr. Hong and DEP staff had field visits to APR Supply in Harrisburg to exhibit the non-profit Thermostat Recycling Corporations’ (TRC) drop off locations for mercury containing thermostats as well as meeting the local representative from TRC.
The second tour location was Bethlehem Apparatus, a nationally recognized specialty mercury recovering and recycling business, to tour their Bethlehem facility.
Dr. Hong was extremely impressed with the extensive regulatory framework for mercury that exists in Pennsylvania as well as the buy in by citizens and businesses. He planned to encourage Korean EPA officials to follow the regulatory framework of Pennsylvania.
He was most delighted with the site visits and expressed that he had contacted other states and corporations that deal in mercury recovery to schedule a tour and was rebuffed.
“We were glad to host Dr. Hong and share the successes of Pennsylvania’s mercury regulations and recycling  programs,” Brisini said. “We look forward to continuing to assist the Korean government develop responsible and effective policies to regulate this highly hazardous substance.”
(Reprinted from September 18 issue of DEP News.  Click Here to sign up to receive your own copy of DEP News and back issues.)

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