Four major corporations were flooded with phone calls today from citizens denouncing their operation of nine mercury-polluting chlorine factories around the country. The “National Call-In Day,” organized by Oceana’s Seafood Contamination Campaign, included simultaneous events in Los Angeles, Calif., Pittsburgh, Pa., Atlanta, Ga., and Madison, Wis.
Event organizers said the effort produced dozens, and in some cases hundreds, of calls to the corporate offices of the Olin Corporation (NYSE:OLN), Occidental Chemicals Corp. (NYSE:OXY), PPG Industries (NYSE:PPG), and Erco Worldwide. Jackie Savitz, Oceana’s Seafood Contamination Campaign Director, said the call-in day was an opportunity for citizens fed up with unnecessary mercury pollution to directly express themselves to those responsible.
“People are justifiably angry that their environment is being unnecessarily polluted with massive amounts of toxic mercury,” said Savitz. “The purpose of this effort was to direct that anger toward its source in the hope that the companies responsible will make the long overdue switch to mercury-free technology.”
Oceana has repeatedly called on each of the six companies to shift their plants to readily available mercury-free technology. Two have recently made positive steps: a PPG-owned plant in Lake Charles, Louisiana announced in August that it would upgrade to a mercury-free production process, and in October, Oxychem’s Delaware City plant announced plans to shut down chlorine production completely. Both companies, however, continue to operate mercury-based plants elsewhere. The seven other mercury-polluting plants are located in: Muscle Shoals, Ala., Augusta, Ga., St. Gabriel, La., Ashtabula, Ohio, Charleston, Tenn., New Martinsville, W. Va., and Port Edwards, Wis.
A scientist with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated that one in six pregnant American women has enough mercury in her blood to pose neurological risks to her developing baby. Although it is particularly damaging to developing fetuses, who become contaminated when the mother has high levels of mercury in her system, toxic mercury also poses health risks to adults. Studies show that high mercury levels can cause neurological damage and memory loss, increase the risk of heart attack, and lead to several other health problems.