ing of submarine cables and pipelines (Art. 17), marine scientific research (Art. 23) and dumping of wastes and other materials (Art. 35). According to Art. 31, "[a]ll forms of economic activity on the continental shelf are subject to State environmental assessment" and "shall be subject to approval by a State environmental assessment." The provisions regarding study, exploration, and exploitation of mineral resources (Arts. 7-9) do not specify that environmental impact information must be provided in applications for resource "block allocations" or resource harvesting licenses. However, the block allocation licenses as issued must contain information about the environmentally sound use of the blocks.
In March EPA announced the Final Rule for import of PCBs for disposal (61 Fed. Reg. 11096, Mar. 18, 1996). One justification given for lifting what had been a 16-year ban on such imports was to "facilitate safe removal of PCBs from areas near the United States' borders." Under the rule it is no longer necessary for PCB importers to obtain permission for each shipment. Instead, prior notification of intended shipments must be provided every 12 months for the coming year. The importer's initial notice to the EPA Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (40 C.F.R. pt. 761.93(b)) must identify, inter alia, the waste type, PCB concentrations, the intended disposal, and its capacity. EPA may refuse any shipment based on shortage of storage or disposal capacity at the designated facility, or based on noncompliance with US obligations under international law. EPA stated that the new PCB rule in no way affects US ability to prohibit PCB trade that does not comply with its obligation, as a non-ratifying party to the Basel Convention, to limit trade in Basel wastes to countries that had entered into treaties with the United States for such trade. An appeal by environmental groups seeking to overturn the rule was still pending at year's end (see Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund v. EPA, No. 96-70223 (9th Cir.). Betsy Baker Röben
At its 51st session, the General Assembly adopted Resolution 51/185 on the "International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction" (see report on the General Assembly) recalling its earlier resolutions (see 6 YbIEL195 ( 1995)). The Resolution reaffirms that "disaster reduction forms an integral part of sustainable development strategies and national development plans of vulnerable countries and communities" (para. 2). It further calls upon all states, relevant international bodies and all others involved in the International