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this_side_up Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-21-06 01:32 AM
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Mercury rules give kiln a pass
Emissions remain unregulated at a cement factory in Eastern Oregon, while PGE's coal-fired plant faces new controls

As Oregon, with federal prodding, clamps down on mercury emitted by a Portland General Electric coal-fired power plant in Boardman, it leaves unregulated an Eastern Oregon factory that is a far larger source of the toxic compound.

The state's biggest industrial source of airborne mercury is a cement kiln run by Kansas-based Ash Grove Cement Co. in the town of Durkee. Unaffected by federal laws aimed at coal-fired power plants, it released 632 pounds of mercury into the air in 2004, the last year when records are available, compared with 151 pounds emitted by PGE's facility.


The situation reflects the uneven struggle to control one of the most troublesome kinds of fallout from coal-burning power plants, incinerators and other industrial facilities. It is a toxic heavy metal easily converted to a form that collects in plants, fish, and the animals and people that consume them.

Airborne mercury drifts such long distances and lasts so long that officials say controlling it in Oregon will not solve the larger problem of mercury arriving from as far away as Asia, where roaring economies are rapidly sprouting new coal plants.

Much of the mercury entering the air in Oregon, meanwhile, ends up around the globe. An 2001 Oregon Environmental Council report estimated 3,600 to 10,600 pounds of mercury enter the air, water and land statewide each year. It identified the biggest probable sources as abandoned mercury mines that leak it into the water.

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