Jackie Savitz, Seafood Contamination Campaign Director for the international ocean conservation group Oceana, which is campaigning to get the United States’ nine remaining mercury-based chlorine plants to shift to mercury-free technology, today released the following statement on Occidental Petroleum Corporation’s decision to end chlorine production at its Delaware City chlor-alkali plant:
“Oxychem’s decision to close its Delaware City chlorine facility is great news for the citizens of Delaware, given the plant’s unrivaled status as the state’s top source of mercury pollution. We hope this step will be duplicated by the seven remaining plants around the nation that have yet to commit to using mercury-free technology, including Oxychem’s Muscle Shoals, Alabama facility.
“If and when Oxychem completely stops using mercury, the state of Delaware will see a 70% reduction in mercury releases from 2003 levels. Similar bulk mercury reductions could be achieved in other states home to chlorine plants that continue to use 19th century, mercury-polluting technology, including Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Tennessee, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
“Our campaign to get mercury out of chlorine production will continue to shine light on this unnecessary pollution until all the remaining plants still using and releasing mercury either shut down or shift to readily available, clean production methods.”
In addition to issuing a report exposing the problem of mercury pollution by the chlorine industry, Oceana wrote directly to Oxychem and the other five companies still using mercury-cells to make chlorine, asking them to shift to mercury-free technology. This announcement follows one from PPG Industries, last August, in which PPG committed to shift its Lake Charles, Louisiana plant to mercury free technology by 2007. Ninety percent of the industry has already gone totally mercury free, proving that using mercury to make chlorine is entirely unnecessary.