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battling Olin

despite this obscurely placed warning, people still fish & consume, and birds can't read the sign

despite this obscurely placed warning, people still fish & consume, and birds can't read the sign

This past Sunday, Mark, Mason, Dillon and I took a ride, crossing over our Hiwassee river bridge once again.  I stopped to take a photo of this warning.  The small sign, which is obscurely placed at the opposite end of the bridge where the put-in and parking areas are, is barely noticeable.  As I said in the previous post, people are continually fishing the quiet waters near the bridge and many fish directly from the bridge.

The small obscure sign, and guy fishing from bridge in the distance.

The small obscure sign, and guy fishing from bridge in the distance.

While we were stopped, we couldn’t help but notice the guy parked and fishing from the bridge and wondering if he had any idea of the toxicity of what he might be catching?

The campaign against the four remaining out-dated chlorine plants  in the country (our Olin is one of them) has been spearheaded by the dedicated and knowledgeable people at Oceana.  The boys and I have been active in several of their community meetings and events directed at Olin and have gotten to know our local Oceana staff member, Suzanne Wisdom.

Earlier this week, I received an email from Suzanne saying that they were planning to deliver a boxful of signed petition cards to Olin headquarters here in Cleveland, accompanied by the Oceana dolphin mascot.  We were invited to join the event.

Earlier this afternoon, a group of concerned local residents joined Suzanne and the Oceana dolphin in the parking lot of the Olin offices.  We quietly and peacefully gathered, holding several signs and a banner, and Suzanne and the dolphin delivered the petition cards.  Since no Olin representative was willing to even come to the lobby to receive the cards or talk to anyone, Suzanne was forced to leave the box with a receptionist.  Oh well, par for the course.

Suzanne Wisdom (Oceana) and the Oceana dolphin deliver the petition cards to the Olin offices.

Suzanne Wisdom (Oceana) and the Oceana dolphin deliver the petition cards to the Olin offices.

Local citizens demanding mercury-free technology from Olin

Local citizens demanding mercury-free technology from local Olin plant

Suzanne gave me a copy of Oceana’s recent Press Release regarding the introduction of the Senate Bill to eliminate mercury from Chlorine Production within two years.  Here are a few important excerpts:

WASHINGTON, July 9, 2009 – Oceana applauds Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) for introducing the Mercury Pollution Reduction Act of 2009 (S.1428) in the U.S. Senatet today.  The bill, co-sponsored by Senators Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Russ Feingold (D-WI), would phase-out the use of mercury technology in domestic chlorine production within two years. Specifically, it would require four renegade chlorine plants in the U.S. to transition to mercury free technology

While 95 percent of chlorine produced in the United States uses a mercury-free process, four U.S. plants have continued to use outdated, mercury-dependent technology to produce chlorine and caustic soda.  Meanwhile, technology that can eliminate the use of mercury in chlorine and caustic soda production has been available for decades.

These chlorine factories release more mercury than the average coal-fired plant, making them top polluters in their states.  A chlor-alkali production facility in Tennessee has historically been the number one source of mercury in the state, and the plant has impaired the river on which it’s located, according to local environmental officials.

Finally, I am sorry but not surprised to report that Olin has apparently contacted Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander (R), requesting/pressuring him to introduce a new bill that would allow the existing outdated chlorine plants an additional twenty years to come into compliance with mercury-free production.  Senator Alexander, with his less-than-stellar environmental voting record still often touts himself as being Mr. Anti-Mercury … so we’ll see how this play out.  In the meantime, I can only hope that the current Bill S. 1428 will pass by the fall of 2009, and maybe then we can halt this nonsense within two years.  The lingering damage to the river ecosystem and the river sediment is another matter…

More on Oceana and their Mercury-free campaign can be found here.