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GLIN==> Report on Mercury Sources at three Indiana Steel Mills

Posted on behalf of Madeline Stone <madeline@delta-institute.org>


Re:  Release of report on Mercury Sources at Three Northwest Indiana Steel

A report on mercury sources at three Indiana steel mills, Bethlehem Steel -
Burns Harbor, Ispat Inland - East Chicago, and U.S. Steel - Gary Works is
now available on the Lake Michigan Forum web site at:
http://www.lkmichiganforum.org/mercury.  This report fulfills a commitment
made by the three mills under a voluntary agreement with USEPA, IDEM, and
the Lake Michigan Forum.  This report will be of interest to any industrial
facility considering mercury reductions, policy makers, and to
environmental advocates.

Some highlights of the report:

There is currently more than 1200 pounds of mercury present at the three
mentioned plants combined.  Nearly half of this mercury (572 lbs.) is
contained within mercury containing equipment such as manometers and
mercury switches.  Fluorescent lights, thermometers, and batteries are not
included in this figure because they are considered a universal waste by
USEPA and programs are already in place to dispose of them properly.
Another 330 pounds of mercury exists at these mills in the form of liquid
mercury in temporary storage.  This is mainly a result of cleanup of spills
and broken devices.  Another 24 pounds is contained within laboratory
chemicals.  There is also an estimated 242 pounds of mercury contained
within recycled materials in the plants.  These materials, such as
wastewater treatment sludge and sinter plant dust, are continuously
circulated throughout the steel making process and never leave the plant.
Finally, there is approximately 106 pounds of mercury contained within
waste materials disposed of annually.  Of these wastes, such as wastewater
treatment sludge, approximately half is disposed of on site and half is
shipped to off-site, permitted facilities.

Testing of raw materials such as iron ore and limestone revealed trace
amounts of mercury within these items.  Coal was not included because
current efforts by the EPA to study mercury in coal should provide more
useful information than the mills could provide.  Coal is also an essential
part of the steel making process for which no known substitutes exist.

Mercury in steel scrap was also considered.  When scrap is purchased from
outside sources the potential for it to contain mercury is high due to
contamination from such items as mercury switches in cars.  In the case of
the three Indiana steel mills, however, most of the scrap used is generated
at the plants and is generally mercury free.

The mercury inventory has helped the mills draw some conclusions that will
help them in the next phase of the project, which consists of identifying
possible alternatives for mercury containing items and identifying
recycling options.

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