July 7, 2009

Feds looking to dump thousands of tons of mercury

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More than half the sites being considered for long-term storage of thousands of tons of toxic mercury are in the West. A story by Annette Carey in Washington’s Tri City Herald naturally focused on the site closest to her readers: Hanford Nuclear Reservation, already a candidate for the worst-polluted piece of ground in the nation. (Did you realize that Hanford’s annual cleanup budget is larger than that of the entire Superfund program?) Carey’s story says up to 11,000 tons of the toxic metal need to be stored for up to 40 years because of the Mercury Export Ban of 2008. It turns out mercury is a commodity, traded worldwide, and Congress wants to reduce its availability. (Which will, of course, enrich further whoever is still selling it on the open market, but that’s another story.)  The other six sites under consideration by the Department of Energy are the Grand Junction Disposal Site in Colorado; the Idaho National Laboratory; Hawthorne Army Depot in Nevada; Kansas City Plant in Missouri; the Savannah River Site in South Carolina and Waste Control Specialists in Andrews, Texas.

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