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Building upon the work of the PRTR Task Force, established the Meeting of Signatories in Chisinau, Moldova, the draft Protocol was first developed by a Working Group established prior to the entry into force of the Aarhus Convention under the auspices of the Committee on Environmental Policy, and then taken over by a Working Group established by the Meeting of the Parties to the Convention. These Working Groups held a total of eight sessions between February 2001 and January 2003.
The legal basis in the Convention can be found in article 5, paragraph 9, and article 10, paragraph 2. The Protocol requires each Party to establish a PRTR which is
  • publicly accessible through Internet, free of charge
  • searchable according to separate parameters (facility, pollutant, location, medium, etc.)
  • user-friendly in its structure and provide links to other relevant registers,
  • presents standardized, timely data on a structured, computerized database;
  • covers releases and transfers of at least 86 pollutants covered by the Protocol, such as greenhouse gases, acid rain pollutants, ozone-depleting substances, heavy metals, and certain carcinogens, such as dioxins;
  • covers releases and transfers from certain types of major point sources
    (e.g. thermal power stations, mining and metallurgical industries, chemical plants, waste and waste- water treatment plants, paper and timber industries);
  • accommodates available data on releases from diffuse sources (e.g. transport and agriculture);
  • has limited confidentiality provisions; and
  • allows for public participation in its development and modification.

The PRTR should be based on a reporting scheme that is:
  • mandatory
  • annual
  • multimedia (air, water, land)
  • facility-specific
  • pollutant-specific for releases
  • pollutant-specific or waste-specific for transfers.

Just as the Convention, the Protocol sets minimum requirements, which means that Parties are free to include additional pollutants and facilities, and the Parties to the Protocol are required to work towards convergence between PRTR systems.