Sunday, October 28, 2007

Mercury in SC Fish

The special report "The Mercury Connection" that appeared in today's The Post and Courier was no surprise to the staff at the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest, especially the fact that all the fish pictured as mercury-tainted and not safe to eat carried a caption noting "especially" in Four Holes Swamp. In fact, we've conducted a program to inform the men and women that fish in Four Holes Swamp about the dangers of mercury-tainted fish and noted the subject on our blog in January.

The coal-burning power plants in our region contribute greenhouse gases that cannot help cool an atmosphere that is undoubtedly warming by whatever means, natural or human-induced. Additionally, the coal-burning power plants are introducing high levels of mercury into our environment. The desire to build additional coal-burning power plants in our state is driven by the increasing demand for electricity.

As citizens of South Carolina and stewards of our environment, we need to acknowledge our part in this issue and take ACTION to reduce our negative role. There is no shortage of webpages or resources, both governmental and private, that provide information to help consumers reduce their energy consumption. Many of the common-sense suggestions can be easily and painlessly instituted. Additionally, citizens need to contact their local, state and federal representatives as well as their power provider and demand that technological upgrades be applied to reduce the harmful emissions from coal-burning plants. These demands should be made with the understanding that the upgrades will come at a cost to the consumer. However, any increase in the cost of electricity per household can be offset by a reduction in consumption and we all benefit! Even inaction has a cost (poisoned waterways, poisoned fish, poisoned family members, increased health care, etc.) and it is infinitely less pleasant than a few pennies per kilowatt/hour.

1 comment:

Mel said...

Chlorine plants have been using mercury in their production for well over 100 years in the United States. Much of this mercury escapes through “fugitive emissions” – and then on top of that, many chlorine plants have unaccounted mercury losses that make their way into the environment. However, unlike coal-fired power plants where mercury emissions can only be reduced, technology exists that can completely eliminate mercury pollution from chlor-alkali production. Still, plants have not committed to stop using the outdated mercury-cell technology to produce their products. There is one in nearby Georgia

Oceana, a conservation group, is pressuring chlorine plants to switch to mercury-free technology. To learn more about this campaign check out the
Oceana website.
If companies move to a mercury-free technology, it will go a long way into reducing mercury emissions, and consequently, seafood contamination.