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Mercury: It's What's For Dinner


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26 May 2009, 3:51 PM
 

Have you been following our Name That Fish contest? As part of our Cleaning Up Mercury, Protecting Our Health campaign, we just rechristened the Bluefin Tuna as “Blue Infection Tuna.” The timing couldn't be more perfect... a new Federal study was just released this month on the alarming mercury levels in tuna and other fish in the Pacific ocean.

YubaNet.com reports:

A landmark study by scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and universities in the U.S. and Australia has, for the first time, documented how escalating mercury-laden air emissions, chiefly from coal-fired electrical power plants in Asia, are being transformed into methylmercury, a potent neurotoxin that is increasingly polluting the North Pacific Ocean and contaminating tuna, swordfish and other popular seafood.

Scientific American also picked up the story:

A federal study released today explains for the first time the link between global mercury emissions and the contamination of tuna and other marine life in the North Pacific Ocean.

Concerns over mercury pollution and exposure continue to make news around the world. Our campaign is designed to educate and mobilize the public to tell the Environmental Protection Agency that they support their plans to cut mercury and other air pollution now. If you have not done so already, please contact the EPA now.

We also need everyone to help us spread the word. Do you have a blog? Write about our campaign and we’ll try to highlight your post here on the UnEarthed blog. This week, a special thanks to Blue Living Ideas for giving us a shout.

Blue Living Ideas says:

Many manufacturing plants release other toxic components such as mercury into nearby waterways that are often the main water supply for the area. Coal plants are especially to blame. While people increasingly avoid seafood in their diet to lower their incidence of mercury poisoning, it is important to remember that the problem does not begin with the fish itself, but rather with industrialization in the surrounding waters.

Earthjustice has been working to clean up the cement industry’s toxic mercury emissions for over a decade. Given that the EPA has just announced a proposal to reduce mercury emissions from Portland cement kilns, it appears that Earthjustice’s good work has not been in vain.

Thanks for the article- helped me with my research.

Sammie

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MERCURY FREE PARTNERSHIP DEVELOPS DRAFT OF GROUNDBREAKING LEGISLATION TO KEEP AIR AND WATER CLEAN
Communities and Individuals Form Coalition Focused on Mercury Reduction within
Broad Environmental Policy

September 9, 2009—The Mercury Free Partnership has developed a draft of legislation which would reduce 90% of harmful mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants, the largest emitter of mercury in the United States. This draft, called the Mercury Reduction Act of 2009, would target coal-fired plants which emit more than 100,000 pounds of mercury into the air each year. In fact, the EPA estimates that about 250 pounds of mercury are currently pumped out of U.S. coal-fired plants into the atmosphere every single day, contaminating our nation’s air and water supplies. This contamination not only poses a multitude of health risks to extremely vulnerable citizens, but it also significantly affects the economic interests of related industries. This is an important initiative because so much attention has been focused on global climate change; what has to be realized is that immediate mercury reduction alone would significantly enhance environmental and health benefits in our world.
The Mercury Free Partnership believes that the new administration will be taking the necessary steps to curb various industrial emissions and ensure that citizens are protected from many harmful chemicals produced by the market. To make certain that mercury emissions are not swept under the rug in this crucial time period, the Mercury Free Partnership will focus on engaging Congress to work on delivering sensible mercury reduction legislation in the coming session. This can be done with new green technologies that will save lives, create jobs and build momentum for comprehensive environmental change.
The Proposed Legislative Principles of the Mercury Reduction Act of 2009
The key elements of the proposal are as follows:
• Phased reductions that are achievable by utilities versus one hard standard.
• 80% of capture inlet mercury by 2012 (a level that can be met with current technology).
• 90% of capture inlet mercury by 2015.
• Flexible monitoring systems.
• Excess emissions penalties of $50,000 for each pound of mercury emitted over the limit.
These points show how the Mercury Reduction Act will deal directly with the problem of mercury, and will do so in an immediate manner. According to Hazel N. Dukes, President of the NAACP New York State Conference, more focus is needed on particular legislation: “While we recognize the desire to also tackle the broader air issues, we fear that those issues will get bogged down in partisan wrangling, or most likely litigation, and we will end up with years more of pollution impacting our community.” The Mercury Reduction Act will serve as interim bridge to current legislation, providing one national standard for mercury reduction, while providing measureable, achievable reductions of mercury from coal-fired plants. Most importantly, the MRA provides a significant environmental benefit in an area not addressed by larger climate change legislation moving through Congress: mercury reduction.
Mercury emissions are a major health issue with serious financial impact, but technology exists today that can clean up to 90% of airborne mercury emissions from coal-fired plants.
There are many effective technologies to reduce mercury. One such technology is called Activated Carbon Injection (ACI). It has been found to reduce 90% of the mercury emissions from waste incinerators. A small amount of activated carbon is injected into the plant ductwork where it captures the gaseous mercury and then is removed along with the plant’s fly ash in particulate collectors. This highly effective environmental solution is very cost-effective, costing only about $1 per month per residential customer for 90% reductions according to a detailed 2004 study by the National Wildlife Federation, and significant cost reductions have been made since then.
Recent evaluations by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) have confirmed that the technology to reduce mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants by up to 90% percent exists. In testimony submitted to the Senate Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety, John B. Stephenson, Director of Natural Resources & Environment at the GAO, explains how sorbent injection systems have demonstrated the ability to reduce mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants anywhere from 80 to 90%.
How to Support the Mercury Free Partnership and the Mercury Reduction Act of 2009
The Mercury Free Partnership is looking to partner with a broad base of individuals and organizations, as no one organization or individual can tackle the daunting task of environmental/health protection alone. It has already received the support of a broad cross-section of environmental, community and science-based groups, including a majority of utilities in key coal-fired utility states. Indications of support have been shown from the EPA, the Obama administration, as well as a large number of congressional members from key regions of the U.S. The Mercury Free Partnership has the specialized and localized knowledge needed to fully inform state and national policymakers as they consider impending legislation.
The House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and more specifically the Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment, oversees such legislation. In addition to contacting the Mercury Free Partnership, you can contact the office of Rick Boucher (VA-9) directly at:
Congressman Rick Boucher
2187 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
202-225-3861
202-225-0442(fax)

For more information on this issue, please visit www.mercuryfreepartnership.org.
The Mercury Free Partnership is a group of organizations, non-profits, and green businesses that are dedicated to enacting sensible and comprehensive Mercury reduction legislation in the 2009 U.S. Congressional session. Working collectively with all stakeholders, the utility industry, medical and advocacy groups and clean coal industries we believe we can achieve our goal of removing significant amounts of Mercury from the environment while maintaining essential energy and financial areas of our economy.
Contact: Jason Sabo, Mercury Free Partnership, 877-603-2337 or info@mercuryfreepartnership.org
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