Ashta Chemicals is a small chlor-alkali facility in Ashtabula, Ohio. The factory is one of the smallest chlorine manufacturers in the country.
Built in 1963, Ashta Chemicals is one of four last remaining chlor-alkali factories in the country using 19th Century, mercury-based technology. Not only does this technology require tons of mercury to be used annually, it is extremely energy-intensive and costs millions of dollars to maintain.
More than 100 factories around the world have switched from mercury-cell technology to mercury-free technology in the chlor-alkali industry. Oceana estimates it would take Ashta Chemicals about $30 million to modernize its facility – or about the same amount that the company has spent on pollution control technology over the past decade.
If the factory were to modernize to mercury-free technology, it could slash energy consumption by up to 37 percent while increasing operating capacity by up to 80 percent. For Ashta Chemicals, mercury-free technology could save about $6.5 million over five years in energy savings alone.