The Beacon

Blog Tags: Chlorine Plants

CEO Note: Another Chlorine Plant Goes Mercury-Free

Bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) in the Mediterranean

Bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) in the Mediterranean. (Photo: Oceana / Keith Ellenbogen)

We all know that seafood is good for you, and that fish is high in heart-healthy omega-3s. And I’m sure you’ve also heard warnings about mercury levels in certain species of fish, especially if you or anyone you know is starting a family. But you might not know that the chlorine industry was a major source of mercury released to our environment.


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A Big Win for Safer Seafood

Olin Corp's Charleston, TN facility. © Oceana

I hope you’re not tired of good news -- because we have another big dose for you today.

Olin Corporation announced today that it will phase out the use of mercury in its chlor-alkali manufacturing process in its Charleston, Tennessee facility by the end of 2012. Plus, the company plans to turn its Augusta, Georgia plant into a bleach plant and distribution center, discontinuing chlor-alkali manufacturing (and thus, mercury use).  

The Tennessee facility is the largest mercury-based factory left in the United States. Built in 1962, Olin Corp.’s factory has consistently been the largest mercury emitter in the entire state of Tennessee. The factory, which produces chlorine and caustic soda, discharges mercury directly to the Hiwassee River and is likely the primary cause of the fish consumption advisory on that portion of the river.

Oceana has been working since 2005 to convince mercury-based chlorine plants to convert to cleaner technology. Since then, two factories have closed and three others are in the process of converting or have converted to mercury-free technology. With Olin’s announcement, there are now only two remaining plants using mercury - Ashta Chemicals in Ashtabula, Ohio and PPG Industries in Natrium, West Virginia.


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Eliminating Mercury Protects Local Jobs

Here at Oceana, we’ve been fighting to reduce mercury use and pollution across the United States.

We’re working to ensure the passage of the Mercury Pollution Reduction Act, which would eliminate mercury use by some of the dirtiest chemical plants in the country, while boosting local economies through job creation and job-loss prevention.

95% of the Chlor-Alkali manufacturing plants in the U.S. are mercury free -- only four remain that use outdated mercury based production techniques. It is time for these last four plants to clean up their act. This bill would force them to do just that.


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