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RE: mercury disposition



Dear P2Techers--

This discussion thread brings up a good industrial ecology question.  What to do with mercury?  Do we need a Yucca Mountain type repository for mercury? (Hmmm, imagine the world's greatest dental filling. Yeah, I know it wouldn't really be dental amalgam.)

If we reduce and phase out Hg use in products and processes and we continue to generate some as a gold mining byproduct and we at some point get serious about Hg controls on coal-fired power plants then we'll accumulate a lot of mercury that has to go somewhere.

In case anyone is interested, here's an excerpt (omitting tables) from a 1999 USGS report summarizing mercury at http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/mercury/430399.pdf , which was cited in a May 2000 P2Tech posting found via Google--
Domestic Production and Use: Recovery of mercury from obsolete or worn out items remains the primary source of
domestic mercury production. Several companies in the eastern and central United States recovered mercury from a
variety of secondary sources such as batteries, chlor-alkali wastewater sludges, dental amalgams, electrical apparatus,
fluorescent light tubes, and measuring instruments. Domestic mine production of mercury was limited to a very small
quantity of byproduct production from fewer than 10 gold mines in California, Nevada, and Utah. The value of mercury
used in the United States was estimated at approximately $2 million. It was estimated that approximately 35% of the
mercury consumed domestically was used in the manufacture of chlorine and caustic soda and 30% for electrical and
electronic applications. The remaining 35% was used for applications such as measuring and control instruments and
dental amalgams.
Recycling: About 400 tons of mercury was recovered from old scrap in 1998.
Import Sources (1994-97): Russia, 37%; Canada, 25%; Kyrgyzstan, 13%; Spain, 10%; and other, 15%.

Events, Trends, and Issues: Federal, State, and local jurisdictions are concerned about mercury emissions and/or the
final disposition of mercury-bearing products. As a result, stringent environmental regulations are likely to continue as
the major determinants of domestic mercury supply and demand. The major component of supply will remain the
secondary industry, owing to the recycling of many worn out or obsolete products and various wastes to avoid deposition
in landfills. Domestic primary production is expected to remain limited to byproduct production where the mercury is
recovered to avoid emissions to the environment. Domestic mercury consumption will continue to decline as mercury is
gradually eliminated in many products, or as substitute products are developed.
Sales from the National Defense Stockpile remain suspended pending completion of an analysis of the potential
environmental impact of the sales.


Regards,
Rod

Rodney Sobin
Office of Air Permit Programs (and former Innovative Technology Manager)
Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
Postal: P.O. Box 10009, Richmond, VA 23240-0009
Street:  629 E. Main St., Richmond, VA 23233-2429
Tel. 804-698-4382	fax 804-698-4264  Rsobin@deq.state.va.us
________________________________________________________
DEQ Air Quality http://www.deq.state.va.us/air/
DEQ Innovative Technology http://www.deq.state.va.us/innovtech
DEQ Distributed Energy Resources http://www.deq.state.va.us/innovtech/der1.html
Chesapeake Bay Program Innovative Technology http://www.chesapeakebay.net/innovative.htm
Environmental Assistance for Small Businesses http://www.deq.state.va.us/osba/smallbiz.html
Virginia Environmental Services Network http://www.vesn.org

> -----Original Message-----
> From:	Sue Schauls [SMTP:sue.schauls@uni.edu]
> Sent:	Tuesday, March 09, 2004 5:32 PM
> To:	Kelly Moran; p2tech@great-lakes.net
> Subject:	Re: mercury disposition> 
> 
> It also brings up the point that removing mercury containing devices that
> are in working order and not currently exposed to the environment seems
> counter-productive to P2 - as it then just increases the potential for
> contamination throught the handling process.
> 
> 
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Kelly Moran" <kmoran@tdcenvironmental.com>
> To: <p2tech@great-lakes.net>
> Sent: Tuesday, March 09, 2004 4:00 PM
> Subject: Re: mercury disposition
> 
> 
> > The fundamental question inherent in this discussion is whether it is
> > appropriate for agencies seeking to reduce or eliminate use of mercury
> > products to tell people disposing of unwanted mercury that the most
> > environmentally sound disposal method involves recycling of mercury into
> > new mercury-containing products.  When I've had to tell residents and
> > businesses that the fate of the mercury they are removing is that it
> > will be recycled into new mercury-containing products, they have laughed
> > and then become discouraged as to whether their personal efforts will
> > have a meaningful environmental benefit.  These reactions don't help the
> > effort to reduce human and environmental exposures to mercury.
> >
> > If the goal is to avoid use of mercury containing products, it doesn't
> > seem logical to encourage recycling for reuse.  It would be great to be
> > able to point to another environmentally sound alternative.
> >
> > Kelly Moran
> > TDC Environmental
> >
> > Sue Schauls wrote:
> >
> > >Check out the Wisconsin DNR's mercury information website - it is the
> best
> > >resources on the web in my opinion:
> >
> >http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/caer/cea/assistance/mercury/thermostat/contr
> actor.htm
> > >
> > >Then look at the Thermostat Recycling Corporation's free service at
> > >http://www.nema.org/index_nema.cfm/664
> > >The Thermostat Recycling Corporation (TRC), a not-for-profit corporation
> > >owned by three NEMA member companies, facilitates the collection by HVAC
> > >wholesalers from contractors of all brands of used, wall-mounted
> > >mercury-switch thermostats so that the mercury can be purified for
> re-use.
> > >
> > >----- Original Message ----- 
> > >From: "Kathy Barwick" <KBarwick@dtsc.ca.gov>
> > >To: <p2tech@great-lakes.net>
> > >Cc: "Mary Pride" <mkpride@dtsc.ca.gov>
> > >Sent: Tuesday, March 09, 2004 11:39 AM
> > >Subject: mercury disposition
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >>Hi everyone. I'm working on a SEP where we expect the facility to change
> > >>out mercury switches containing a total of 30 to 50 pounds of mercury.
> > >>I'm wondering if we should be specifying anything in the settlement
> > >>requiring the facility to ensure the mercury that is removed is
> > >>sequestered or otherwise taken out of commerce.
> > >>
> > >>What are we (p2 community) telling people to do with the mercury we're
> > >>removing from the environment?
> > >>
> > >>Thanks much for any assistance. . .
> > >>
> > >>Kathy Barwick
> > >>Sacramento Region Pollution
> > >>    Prevention Coordinator
> > >>Dept. of Toxic Substances Control
> > >>(916) 255-6421
> > >>fax (916) 255-3595
> > >>
> > >>
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