Oceana is disappointed by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin's (PSC) opinion that the proposed rate reduction request was illegal and could not be approved. While ERCO had committed to switching to mercury free technology if the plan was approved, this announcement in no way prevents the company from doing so. Many companies have switched to mercury free technology in the past with no special treatment from their states or power companies. ERCO, which has publicly acknowledged that it is the state's largest mercury releaser, should still commit to upgrade its facility to mercury free technology.
"Today's decision does not release ERCO from its responsibility to the community to stop emitting mercury unnecessarily," said Jackie Savitz, Director of Oceana's Stop Seafood Contamination campaign. "Similar plants have made the switch without the help of outside sources. As the creator of nearly a third of the state's mercury pollution ERCO simply must do what it can to pull the Port Edwards plant out of the 19th Century."
The environmental and public health costs of mercury pollution are considerable. Mercury is a neurotoxin and can have significant detrimental health implications for wildlife and humans and especially children. Eliminating ERCO'S unnecessary mercury releases would benefit Wisconsin's lakes, rivers, fish, wildlife and its residents.
In January 2005, Oceana launched a campaign to convince outdated chlor-alkali plants like ERCO to convert to mercury-free technology. In September of that year, ERCO began formal consideration of such a shift. While this process was an attempt to leverage outside resources toward the costs of shifting, two other facilities are planning or have finished making similar changes in recent years without special power rates or other consideration from their states.
"While we hoped the PSC would approve this "win-win-win" proposal, we hope this is not the end of the story. We will continue to urge ERCO to make the shift because it makes good business sense over the long term and because subjecting the community to continued mercury emissions of this magnitude is simply unacceptable," said Savitz.
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Oceana campaigns to protect and restore the world's oceans. Our teams of marine scientists, economists, lawyers and advocates win specific and concrete policy changes to reduce pollution and to prevent the irreversible collapse of fish populations, marine mammals and other sea life. Global in scope and dedicated to conservation, Oceana has campaigners based in North America (Washington, DC; Juneau, AK; Portland, OR; Monterey, CA; Santa Monica,, CA), Europe (Madrid, Spain; Brussels, Belgium) and South America (Santiago, Chile). More than 300,000 members and e-activists in over 150 countries have already joined Oceana.