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March 13, 2008

O’ Canada!

BY: smahan

Some Americans tend to view Canada in terms of maple syrup, hockey, Mounties, bacon and Jim Carrey. And on occasion, it’s been affectionately referred to as America’s hat. But I have another reason to be particularly fond of the True North: by the end of this summer, Canada will have no more mercury-based chlorine factories.

With the exit of the plant in Dalhousie, New Brunswick, Canada will no longer have any mercury-emitting chlor-alkali plants.  Meanwhile, back here in the States, we’ve got four plants that continue to rely on the 19th century technology.  Seems like Canada’s on top of things.  

The plant is owned by the Olin Corporation (yup, that Olin…), which decided to close the 45 year old plant.  

As opposed to closing, some mercury-based plants in Canada have switched to mercury-free technology.  For example, PPG Industries (yup, that PPG…) switched its plant in Beauharnois (near Montreal) to membrane technology in 1990.  Making the switch increased energy efficiency at the facility by 35 percent.  

It’s unfortunate Olin didn’t opt to use mercury-free technology instead of simply shutting the plant down.  This newer, cleaner technology can be up to 37 percent more energy efficient – and in today’s competitive marketplace, efficiency could make or break a company’s financial viability.   Even the plant manager at Olin’s Dalhousie facility cited high energy use and high electricity costs as partial reasons for closing the plant down.  Hopefully Olin will invest in mercury-free technology so their plants in Georgia and Tennessee can remain profitable and aren’t forced to close like the plant in Canada.

Until then, from sea to sea to sea, Canada’s chlorine industry is soon to be mercury-free.