March 15, 2004

Comments sought on proposed addition of chrysotile asbestos to Rotterdam PIC process

On behalf of the federal government, Environment Canada is leading consultations on the addition of chrysotile asbestos to the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure under the Rotterdam Convention. A proposal to add chrysotile, a form of asbestos exported by Canada, to the PIC procedure will be considered by parties to the Convention at their next meeting in September 2004. The countries will be asked to decide, by consensus, whether to include chrysotile in the list of chemicals subject to the procedure's requirements.

The Rotterdam Convention, a multilateral environmental agreement to which Canada is a party, stipulates that the export of a chemical covered by the Convention can take place only with the prior informed consent of the importing party. The Convention's PIC procedure sets out the process for formally obtaining and disseminating the decisions of importing countries as to whether they wish to receive future shipments of specified chemicals and for ensuring compliance with these decisions by exporting countries.

The present consultations are intended solely to obtain views on the potential impacts of the inclusion or non-inclusion of chrysotile under the PIC procedure. Domestic issues will not be addressed, as Canada has a comprehensive domestic regime in place for the management and controlled use of chrysotile. Comments received through this consultation will be considered in the development of a federal position for the September 2004 meeting of the Convention parties.

The government has prepared a consultation document containing information and considerations relevant to the issue, along with background documents on the Rotterdam Convention, chrysotile, the health effects of chrysotile and other asbestos fibres and the risk management of chrysotile. In addition, Environment Canada will be holding a consultation meeting in Ottawa on April 1, 2004. Those interested in attending are asked to complete and return the reply form (pdf format) by March 18, 2004. The form and related documents may be viewed on Environment Canada's National Office of Pollution Prevention Web site, www.ec.gc.ca/nopp/en/index.cfm.

Written comments are due by April 9, 2004 and should be directed to RenĂˆ Desjardins, Chemicals Control Branch, Environment Canada, 351 St Joseph Blvd, 12th Floor, Gatineau, Que K1A 0H3; FAX 819/994-0007, E-mail CDS-SDC@ec.gc.ca. Respondents should specify whether their comments are to be treated as confidential. More information is available from RenĂˆ Desjardins, 819/953-1671.

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