Government of the Federated States of Micronesia

Pacific Response Capacity for Marine Pollution Accidents is Limited

APIA, Western Samoa (FSM Information Service): January 16, 1997 - The current concerns shown over the transportation or disposal of hazardous material is not new to the Pacific and the capacity of the region to respond to a marine accident is extremely limited. The South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) has identified this as a priority area and will be working with countries and other regional organizations to build national capacity to protect the marine environment from ship-based waste. This work is expected to commence in 1997 with the assistance of the Commonwealth Secretariat and Canada, according to a release from SPREP.

In an interview earlier today with Samoa local radio station 2 AP, Mr. Gerald Miles, SPREP's Head of Environmental Management and Planning Division said:

"It was nearly three years ago at the Global Conference on the sustainable development of islands that the international community agreed that there is growing concern about the transboundary movement of toxic and hazardous waste, including the use of small island developing States for the disposal of waste generated by other countries.

The isolation of small island developing States and their dependence on marine and limited terrestrial resources make them highly vulnerable to toxic and hazardous wastes and chemicals, and radioactive materials. Response strategies and solutions to these events were one of the major issues covered in the recent SPREP workshop on International Conventions Relating to Marine Pollution Activities for SPREP Member Countries and Territories, held from 2 to 6 December 1996."

The passage of ships carrying toxic and hazardous wastes, chemicals and radioactive materials is of international concern and of significant concern to small island developing States. In this region, there is a need to develop and enhance the emergency response capacities necessary to protect marine and coastal environments from accidents or incidents relating to marine transport. For now, SPREP will continue to work closely with the Forum Secretariat as Forum Member Governments continue to determine an appropriate response to the current issue of shipments of radioactive materials through the region.

For further information on this release, please contact:

FSM Office of the President
Public Information: Press, Radio, Video
P.O Box 34
Palikir Station, Pohnpei, FM 96941
Tel.: (691) 320-2548/2092
Fax.: (691) 320-4356