Environment ministry bans import of toxic waste

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Colombia's environment ministry has issued a resolution preventing the country from accepting imports of toxic waste from other countries, the ministry reported in a press release.

"No individual or legal entity can enter nuclear waste... [or] toxic waste into national territory," states the resolution, adding that persons or organizations will also be prohibited from importing waste materials that do not comply with the Basel Convention on Hazardous Wastes.

The document also confirms that no kind of hazardous waste can be imported unless it undergoes a process of industrial treatment to minimize all danger to the lives and health of Colombians, according to environment minister Juan Lozano.

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The declaration was issued because a resolution published in May by Lozano's predecessor Sandra Suárez left certain loopholes, the official commented.

"The ministry will begin a process of public deliberation with the main experts (national and international) to evaluate all of the issues of application of the Basel Convention and to adopt the measures needed to assure that its aims are fulfilled," Lozano said.

Anyone wishing to import hazardous waste will have first to acquire an environmental license from the ministry.

"We will not allow Colombia to become a cemetery for toxic waste under any circumstances," Lozano was quoted as saying by newspaper La República.