This morning, Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) introduced a bill to phase out the use of mercury in chlorine production by 2012 (H.R. 5580).
It’s a little known fact that mercury can be used in the process to make chlorine (check out this amazing graphic to get a better understanding of how it’s used – remember Hg stands for mercury in chemist-land). Thanks to campaigning by Oceana, there are only four chlorine factories remaining in the United States that still rely on mercury-cell technology; meanwhile, nearly 90 percent of the chlorine produced in the US is done so using mercury-free technology. Even though there are only a few mercury-dependent chlorine factories left, the remaining four plants collectively emitted over a ton of mercury into the air in 2006.
Representative Schakowsky’s bill, if passed, would bring the United States in line with other countries phasing out mercury-based chlorine production: India should have all its chlorine plants converted to mercury-free processes by 2012 and Japan outright banned the mercury process in the 1980s.
Needless to say, we’re pretty stoked.