Jackie Savitz, Pollution Campaign Director for the international ocean conservation group Oceana, which has been running a campaign to get the United States' nine remaining mercury-based plants to shift to mercury-free technology, today released the following statement on Pioneer Industries' commitment to upgrade from mercury cell to membrane cell technology for the production of chlorine at its St. Gabriel, La., chemicals plant:
"Pioneer's commitment to eliminate the use of mercury at its St.Gabriel chlorine facility is great news for the citizens and environment of Louisiana. This is the second Louisiana plant to make this commitment since the campaign began. When the transition is complete it will mark the end of mercury based chlorine production in the state and the elimination of hundreds of pounds of mercury escaping into the atmosphere annually. Of the nine plants that were using mercury to make chlorine when the campaign began, only five remain that have not committed to end their mercury use. We hope Pioneer's decision will soon be duplicated by the five remaining plants that continue to use 19th century, mercury-polluting technology to produce chlorine."
"The industry is currently doing well economically, which makes this a perfect time for these companies to invest in mercury-free technology. As Pioneer and PPG have both noted, such a shift is a sound business decision. It will result in considerable savings in energy and waste management expenses."
"Over the past year, Oceana organized citizens around St. Gabriel to make their voices heard and object to Pioneer's use of mercury. More than 1,200 local anglers, students, and other concerned citizens signed postcards to the CEO of Pioneer and 128 phone calls were placed into their headquarters by ordinary people, tired of the company polluting their lakes, rivers, and streams. Those activities culminated in December in a meeting with the company where the group met with representatives of the company urging them to take action."
"Ninety percent of the industry has already moved away from mercury technology, demonstrating that using mercury to make chlorine is totally unnecessary. Our campaign to get mercury out of chlorine production will continue to shine light on this unnecessary pollution and we hope the remaining five plants still using and releasing mercury follow suit."
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.