PNS Daily Newscast - April 8, 2020 

COVID-19 prompts a car insurance break for some drivers. Also, a push for postal banking, and for grocery workers to be treated as first responders.

2020Talks - April 8, 2020 

Wisconsin held its primary yesterday in the midst of the COVID-19 epidemic. But a shortage of poll workers led to just five polling stations in Milwaukee instead of the usual 180.

TN Makes the “Final Four” – for Mercury Pollution

March 13, 2008

Charleston, TN – Tennessee is in the "Final Four" – for mercury pollution, and Congress may decide to play referee. A bill introduced this week in the U.S. House of Representatives would require chlorine companies to phase out their use of mercury.

A Charleston chlorine plant is one of only four in the nation still using a process that reportedly releases mercury pollution into air and water. Jackie Savitz, with the environmental group Oceana, explains mercury is hazardous to humans, fish and wildlife, as a strong neurotoxin that does not easily dissipate in the environment.

"That plant actually is the Number One mercury polluter in the entire State of Tennessee, so if they would shift to mercury-free technology, it would mean a tremendous reduction in mercury releases to the state."

The plant's operator, the Olin Corporation, has said changing to newer technology would require a large investment that not every company can afford. It has indicated concern that the legislation could force the plant to cut jobs, or go out of business entirely.

Savitz counters that more than 100 other plants already have made the switch. They estimate that the up-front investment will pay for itself within five years, and the new technology offers other business benefits as well.

"Shifting can increase their energy efficiency by over 30 percent, which could save them a lot of money on electricity. It can also allow for an expansion, which can increase the sales."

The bill is HR 5580, the "Missing Mercury in Manufacturing Monitoring and Mitigation Act." A similar version also has been introduced in the U.S. Senate. Other plants on Oceana's "Top Four" list for their continued use of the mercury technology are located in Georgia, Ohio and West Virginia.

Deborah Smith/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - TN