Sustained Outrage

PPG gets mercury pollution variance for W.Va. plant

Reports from the group’s meeting in Louisville, Ky., indicate that the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission has approved PPG’s request for a mercury pollution variance for its chlor-alkali plant along the Ohio River up in Natrium, W.Va. (see Twitter feeds from my friends Jim Bruggers and Erica Peterson).

Writing on his Watchdog Earth blog at the Courier-Journal, Jim had a preview of today’s meeting:

PPG Industries finds out this morning whether ORSANCO will grant its West Virginia plan a variance from water quality standards that would allow it continue dumping extra mercury into the Ohio River.

The Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission meets at 9 a.m. today at the Brown Hotel to take up the matter, and other issues.

The commission, as I wrote in June, tentatively approved the continued mercury discharges from the chlorine manufacturing plant for at least the next five years.

The company has been seeking to avoid a 90 percent cut in the amount of mercury that it’s allowed to dump into the Ohio River.

At issue is a 2009 decision by the commission to phase out what it calls “mixing zones” downriver from industrial plants that discharge chemicals that build up in the environment, such as mercury. Such zones allow pollution limits to be met some distance from factory outfalls, after effluent has been diluted with river water.

Mixing zones are not thought to work as well for pollutants that bio-accumulate, as mercury does.

A Senior design engineer Dave Bush inspects the sprawling mercury cell room at PPG Industries chemical plant in Natrium, Marshall County. Photo from 2005 courtesy PPG.

We’ve written about the issue of PPG’s mercury pollution many times before on this blog and in the Gazette (see here, here, here, herehere, and here). The last I saw, PPG was moving to sell the portion of its business that includes the Natrium plan (see here and here).