Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Can Mercury Waste Be Treated On-site?

Last week we looked at where mercury is found in our daily lives. This week, we will address what is being done in regards to pollution control of mercury emissions. Possible changes in government regulations could allow on-site treatment methods, which could make it possible to clean-up areas that are otherwise considered too cost- and time-prohibitive to treat. For instance, a planned cleanup of a 40-mile section of the Hudson River in New York illustrates the need for on-site treatment. The area is heavily contaminated with PCBs, but the off-site method for the PCB disposal will lead to liberation of huge quantities of mercury.

It is an incongruent challenge because in trying to remove one form of pollution, they will generate another—which is thought to be the lesser of two evils. Theoretically, the 40-mile stretch would generate many billions of tons of waste. If sent to a typical plant, the quantity of waste would take the next 1,000 years to process. Not only would the time requirements be impractical, but the transportation costs would be huge—making it a cost-prohibitive and impractical solution.

Instead, the government may one day allow on-site treatment options, and companies will be gearing up in the coming years to provide services, technology and engineering to make it possible.

Brad Buscher
Chairman and CEO
VaporLok Products LLC

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