No Time to Waste: Europe's Chlorine Industry and the Mercury Challenge
During a project that Golder was working on in Sweden, mercury penetrated to a depth of over 100 meters into the rock matrix. Moreover, sometimes the issue of construction materials is also forgotten. All porous materials such as levelling putty, light concrete and wooden structures will be saturated with mercury as a result of vapour absorption and it is vital this is not overlooked.
Does all this mean that it is already too late for industry players who have not started decommissioning yet? Not necessarily, but any delay has the potential to significantly increase clean-up costs.
Conversion Costs for Chlorine Plant
The bad news — that unfortunately cannot be avoided — is that the costs of conversion or closure are potentially very high.
In an ongoing remediation project of a recently closed facility where graphite anodes had been used, Golder detected that the site was heavily contaminated by both dioxins and mercury. This required the development of a waste management strategy that went beyond national borders.
And costs are not expected to decrease — quite the opposite: The number of facilities that can act as final repositories for mercury waste is limited. The increasing demand for such repositories will lead to a substantial increase in per ton costs for mercury waste. One can only speculate what the prices will look like at the end of 2017 and beyond. Planning ahead is therefore crucial.