Bill to End Unnecessary Mercury Use in Chlorine Production by 2012 | Oceana

Bill to End Unnecessary Mercury Use in Chlorine Production by 2012

Reps. Schakowsky, Waxman and Colleagues Say “No More” to the “Final Four”



Press Release Date

Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Location: Washington, D.C.

Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), along with Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), introduced the "Missing Mercury in Manufacturing Monitoring and Mitigation Act" in the U.S. House of Representatives late last night. They join Sen. Barack Obama in trying to eliminate a major industrial source of mercury pollution to improve public health. Mercury is a persistent and potent neurotoxin, which damages neurological development in children and cardiac health in adults.

This legislation (H.R. 5580) would phase out the use of mercury-cell technology in chlorine production by the year 2012. The bill would not only benefit public health and wildlife, but also the companies themselves, since phasing-out mercury use in chlorine production has been shown to clearly improve a plant's bottom line. Many chlorine plants that have shifted to mercury-free "membrane technology" have increased energy efficiency by about 30%, reducing their electrical costs and decreasing their contribution to climate change. They also are capable of increasing their production capacity by 20 to 80 percent, while increasing sales and profit. 90 percent of U.S. chlorine is already made using mercury-free technology; however, four U.S. plants continue to use mercury. Those plants are owned by the Olin Corporation, PPG Industries and ASHTA Chemicals.

"Most companies have already made this shift but others are continuing to use 19th century technology, which results in the needless release of mercury into our environment," said Jacqueline Savitz, senior director of Oceana's campaign to stop seafood contamination. "Mercury released from industrial processes, like chlorine production, can get into our fish, end up on our dinner plates and ultimately in us. It's time for the ‘Final Four' remaining plants to enter into the 21st century and stop releasing mercury."

Oceana's recent report, entitled Cleaning Up: Taking Mercury-Free Chlorine Production to the Bank, reveals that the majority of conversion costs can be paid for within five years through increases in energy efficiency and sales, based on an analysis of115 chlorine manufacturing plants that have made the shift. To read this report, please visit http://www.oceana.org/north-america/what-we-do/stop-seafood-contamination/reports-resources/cleaning-up/.

To speak with Rep. Janice Schakowsky's office, please contact Peter Karafotas at 202.225.2111 or peter.karafotas@mail.house.gov.