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A Big Win for Safer Seafood -- and Another Step Toward a Mercury-Free Environment

Posted Dec 10 2010 1:59pm
Olin Corporation announced today that it will phase out the use of mercury in its chlor-akali manufacturing process in it's Charleston, Tennessee facility by the end of 2012. The company also plans to turn its Augusta, Georgia plant into a bleach plant and distribution center, discontinuing chlor-alkali manufacturing, and thus, mercury use.

The Tennessee facility is the largest mercury-based factory left in the US. Built in 1962, Olin Coprp's factory has consistently been the largest mercury emitter in the entire state of Tennessee. The factory, which produces chlorine and caustic soda, discharges mercury directly to the Hiwassee River and is likely the primary cause of the fish consumption advisory on that portion of the river.

Oceana has been working since 2005 to convince mercury-based chlorine plants to convert to cleaner technology. Since then, two factories have closed and three others are in the process of converting or have already converted to mercury-free technology.

There are now only two remaining plants using mercury -- Ashta Chemicals in Astabula, Ohio and PPG Industries in Natrium, West Virginia.

Mercury released to the environment from these plants end up in our waterways and ultimately the oceans, where it builds up in fish and other wildlife through a process known as 'bioaccumulation', where animals higher on the food chain, such as tuna and swordfish, carry the most mercury.

We all know that people exposed to mercury can experience health hazards, such as delayed neurological development in children. Both the FDA and the EPA have advised women of childbearing age and children to not eat certain types of fish due to high levels of mercury.

That said, we still wonder why FDA still allows the practice of dental mercury amalgam, as these deceptive "silver fillings" are placed only inches from the brain.

Congratulations, Oceana! Keep up the good fight!

OC

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