UN eyes rules on chemicals and hazardous waste

The United Nations Environment Program hopes to issue international guidelines soon to help control hazardous wastes and potentially harmful chemicals.

''Countries are becoming international dustbins,'' says a recently issued UN report on the state of the world environment.

The report also notes that ''developing countries are particularly vulnerable to . . . pollution exports.''

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has enlisted the support of both private industry and the major environmentalist groups for its efforts. Indeed, the first global conference on industry and environment to be held under UN auspices next September will be funded to a large extent by private industry itself.

''Tens of millions of tons of toxic substances enter the environment every year as unwanted waste. Many companies evade their national laws and regulations and export their wastes, particularly toward the developing countries,'' the same report notes.

''Existing laws are not enough,'' a UN expert says. ''Much depends upon their implementation. Many developed countries do not have the staff that could inspect thousands of dumping grounds and all of the waste shipping.''

National laws must be supplemented by ironclad international agreements to regulate the disposal of hazardous wastes, UNEP director Mostafa Kamal Tolba says.

The UN conference will offer the latest in environment technologies to third-world countries interested in buying them.

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