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April 13, 2010

Eliminating Mercury Protects Local Jobs

Here at Oceana, we’ve been fighting to reduce mercury use and pollution across the United States.

We’re working to ensure the passage of the Mercury Pollution Reduction Act, which would eliminate mercury use by some of the dirtiest chemical plants in the country, while boosting local economies through job creation and job-loss prevention.

95% of the Chlor-Alkali manufacturing plants in the U.S. are mercury free — only four remain that use outdated mercury based production techniques. It is time for these last four plants to clean up their act. This bill would force them to do just that.

Chlor-alkali facilities making the switch to mercury-free production in recent years have demonstrated the economic benefits of using cleaner, more modern technology. Residents of Kentucky saw these benefits firsthand when Westlake Chemicals converted its Calvert City mercury-cell chlor-alkali factory to mercury-free techology in 2002.

In addition to creating almost 300 short-term construction and development jobs, the conversion project also effectively extended the production life of Westlake’s facility, thus providing added job security to over 400 people who work there. Similarly, Olin Corporation and PPG Industries have both eliminated mercury use at Louisiana facilities in the past three years, collectively creating more than 400 local jobs and protecting hundreds more.

With the passage of the Mercury Pollution Reduction Act into law, converting the four remaining mercury-cell facilities in the United States would create hundreds of jobs, while making the facilities profitable for an additional 30 to 40 years.

With many communities and chlor-alkali companies already benefiting from recent and past conversions, it is a wonder that Olin, PPG, and Ashta Chemicals remain in ardent opposition of the bill.

We’re hopeful the bill will pass soon, but we need more co-sponsors to make it stronger.

Tell your Senators and Representatives to co-sponsor the Mercury Pollution Reduction Act in order to promote job growth and eliminate dangerous mercury.

Nick Hurwit is an intern for Oceana’s Mercury Campaign.