The Beacon: smahan's blog
Despite CFLs being awesome, some have raised a fuss over the fact that they contain mercury.
When Oceana published Cleaning Up, which focused on the economics of chlorine factories switching to mercury-free technology, a few mercury belching companies remarked that the market wasn't favorable for switching or increasing capacity. In fact, the market is "oversupplied."
Granted, we're not in the business of making chlorine, but if the market is so tight, why is Harris & Ford building a brand-spanking new (mercury-free) chlor-alkali plant in Iowa?
It seems mercury isn't only toxic to people, but to business plans as well...
The Wall Street Journal published an article a couple days ago that had even the most progressive grocers applauding -- if they weren't scratching their heads. ...
The article, "Food Makers Get Appetite for Regulation" outlined how the Grocery Manufacturers Association (read: grocery industry lobbyists) wanted the feds to increase inspections on imported foods. Evidently all that toxic seafood and poisoned toothpaste has caused some consumers to second guess the food they eat.
GMA President Cal Dooley summed it up quite nicely: "It's in our interest to have a strong FDA. We need to have consumer confidence in the food products."
To combat the problem of consumers becoming more cautious, the GMA is voluntarily offering to spend $200 million to increase food safety. Wait ... oh, now I get it. They're proposing spending $200 million in taxpayer dollars.
Even the National Fisheries Institute (read: fishing industry lobbyists) is on board with spending our money.
But why is it that if a strong FDA is good for business, the businesses want to keep the FDA away from their seafood counters?
PPG Industries was recently told it must reduce its mercury discharges into the Ohio River ("Plant told to cut mercury dumping," Aug. 8). In addition to river discharges, the New Martinsville plant emitted over 1,200 pounds of mercury into the air in 2004-making it the largest mercury air polluter in the state. Every year that PPG is allowed to wait to clean up its mess is another year that more mercury enters the environment and poses a health risk.
New technology is available so the plant can continue operations without the mercury pollution. Already 90 percent of the chlorine industry uses this technology. PPG's second mercury emitting chlorine plant in Louisiana is slated to change to this mercury free technology by 2007. If it doesn't switch, it is unclear the plant can meet the current discharge limits.
The technology isn't cheap, but it does offer up to a 30 percent increase in energy efficiency. Likewise, the longer PPG waits to switch, the more mercury it will have to pay to clean up in the future. PPG should stop stalling the inevitable and implement the environmental board's order.
The Washington Post recently published a story on the confusion over choosing healthy seafood with low contaminants levels. Oceana has a simple solution.
Olin, a chlor-alkali company that still emits mercury from its processes, is based out of my home-state, Missouri. I figured it would be fitting to write a peice highlighting what they should do with all that money they had been making in the second quarter.
Pennsylvania emits the second most mercury pollution in the United States-second only to Texas. While most of PA's mercury comes from coal-fired power plants, a nearby chlorine plant may also increase the health risks to Pennsylvanians.
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