July 22, 2009

States wrestle with issue of mercury control and storage

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Monsanto has formed an unlikely alliance with the Idaho Board of Environmental Quality to call for more regulation of mercury pollution. The global chemical giant is Idaho’s largest source of mercury, but agrees with the need to hold down overall mercury pollution, reports Rocky Barker of the Idaho Statesman. Monsanto has petitioned other industry leaders to follow suit, and the Idaho Association of Industry and Commerce, a powerful business lobby, expects to decide where it falls on the issue this month.

The issue of what to do with mercury remains a vexing problem for Western States. Gary Harmon of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel has a roundup of state reactions to disposal sites. Colorado, so far, has not taken a position on whether to allow storage of the element at its Grand Junction Disposal site. That site is close to where the Dept. of Energy has buried 4.4 million cubic yards of uranium mill tailings. To date, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has opposed mercury storage at the Idaho National Laboratory, and Kansas City, Mo., doesn’t want it either. Nevada, which already stores about half the nation’s mercury, has raised concerns about storage at the Hawthorne Army Depot southeast of Reno. The Dept. of Energy estimates it will need to find places to store 10,000 or more additional metric tons of mercury over the next four decades.

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