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WV Home to One of the "Filthy Five" Mercury Polluters

July 19, 2007

It's a top five list West Virginia would rather avoid -- the "Filthy Five." A new report identifies a West Virginia chlorine plant as one of five nationwide that still use mercury in their production process, making the plant a top mercury polluter. Report author Simon Mahan with the “Oceana Institute” says the PPG Industries plant near New Martinsville could switch to other commonly used technologies, and make a big difference.

"They're the biggest water mercury polluter in the entire state, which means that if they were to switch over to mercury-free technology, a lot of mercury pollution would not be making it into the waterways in West Virginia."

Companies operating the five plants nationwide have said the costs of switching would be too high, and would lead to a less efficient process; the report points toward over a hundred other plants that have successfully made the switch.

Mahan believes the plant is part of the reason West Virginia has mercury advisories for fish caught in the state.

"By getting into the waterways, it can build up in fish, and whenever people eat those fish, they are possibly contaminating themselves with mercury from those mercury sources."

The report is online at www.oceana.org.

Rob Ferrett/Mandy Walker, Public News Service - WV