Oceana announced today the winners of the inaugural "Masters of Making Mercury in the Environment" (MOMMIE) Awards, honoring America's chlorine plants for outstanding achievement in the field of poisoning our tuna fish sandwiches.
The MOMMIE Awards spotlight an industry that's overdue for a star turn on the red carpet. Mercury-cell chlorine plants have long been ignored in the shadow of more glamorous offenders, like coal-fired power plants. But as Oceana reports have shown, the chlorine industry is an accomplished polluter in its own right: In 2004 alone, American chlorine plants released a total of 9,000 pounds of mercury into the air and water, where just .002 pounds of mercury is enough to contaminate a 25-acre lake. Talk about commitment to your craft!
Mercury is linked to learning disabilities and developmental delays in children and damage to the heart and nervous system in adults. Fortunately, there are cleaner, more efficient methods of chlorine production. But MOMMIE honorees have shown that none of these alternatives can match the ineffable charm of neurotoxins. Oceana salutes their passion for a dying art in the face of overwhelming public-health concerns. For this reason Oceana presented its first ever MOMMIE award, in the form of golden life-size pregnant mannequin statuettes, at events near these distinguished facilities.
And the MOMMIEs go to...
Performance by a Factory in a Contaminating Role
Olin Corporation's Augusta, GA, Plant for "The Devil Shares Mercury"
MOMMIE voters couldn't resist this heartwarming tale of the caring, sharing chlorine plant that had a few flaws but, according to Olin, made up for it with contributions to the community. Some of those contributions are on display at a local canal leading to the Savannah River. The Olin plant severely contaminated the canal with mercury-and a whole lotta love.
Achievement in Illegal Effects
PPG's Natrium, WV, Plant for "V for Violation"
The rebellious, gritty Natrium plant was a MOMMIE shoo-in after a year in which it released 76 times the legal limit of mercury, raising the bar for aspiring polluters. Voters were especially moved by the performance turned in by PPG rep Jeff Worden when he claimed that the Natrium plant "cannot meet" water quality standards right now. Of course, if the plant switched to mercury free technology, it would release absolutely no mercury into the water.
Lifetime Emissions Award
Olin Corporation for "Big Mercury's House 2" and other hits
No chlorine producer has worked harder than Olin to put mercury on America's dinner tables. Since 1987, Olin plants have emitted 50,000 pounds of mercury, a gleaming 25-ton legacy. Even after all these years, Olin is still operating two plants that have failed to commit to stop using mercury-no other competitor has more than one. Olin is an inspiring example that proves you're never too old to not care.
Achievement in Misdirecting
The Chlorine Institute for "The Bad Shepherd"
Behind every great film is a great director; behind every MOMMIE winner is the Chlorine Institute. Rather than encouraging cleaner plants, the Chlorine Institute distributes talking points to defend antiquated mercury-cell technology, which dates from 1894. That's the same year that Thomas Edison held the first moving-picture show. Good thing the Chlorine Institute doesn't run the movie business, or we'd still be watching kinetoscope reels at the local nickelodeon.
Best Stunt Performance
ASHTA Chemicals for "Mission: Impossible III"
Breathtaking. Audacious. Mind-boggling. Those are some of the words used to describe the stunt proposal by ASHTA Chemicals. After being sued by the EPA for excessive emissions at its Ashta, OH chlorine plant, the company claimed it could reduce mercury pollution by 80 percent without switching to mercury-free technology. Skeptics said it was impossible. And, well, it probably is. We won't know until at least 2008. In the meantime, the lawsuit has gone away, and that's the cleverest stunt of all.
Best Commotion Picture of the Year
ERCO Worldwide for "An Inconvenient Electric Rate"
ERCO created a stir in 2006 when it requested a discount on electricity for its Port Edwards, WI chlorine plant. ERCO said the savings would help pay for a switch to mercury-free technology, but when the deal fell through, ERCO was left with a dilemma: hide behind a convenient excuse or accept an inconvenient rate? The MOMMIEs don't know the answer-they're just suckers for melodrama.
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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.