Spolchemie in Ústí nad Labem is allowed to operate mercury electrolysis only till December 31, 2012. This ensued from the Decision on Appeal issued by the Regional Authority of the Ústi Region on December 12, 2006.
This binding deadline was set within the framework of the process of the application for issuance of an integrated permit. The integrated permit for a „complex of facilities for production of alkaline lyes, chlorine and hydrochloric acid“ was issued by the Regional Authority of the Ústí Region on October 30, 2006, already, but the Arnika Association filed an appeal against it within the legal deadline, because of ambiguously set date of its validity for operation of the amalgam electrolysis in Spolchemie.
The original wording of the integrated permit contained a point (1) enabling Spolchemie to extend validity of the integrated permit possibly even by several years. „The Regional Authority allowed the Arnika's objections, and deleted this point from the integrated permit completely. Thus, Spolchemie will have to file, by December 31, 2012, an application for issuance of an integrated permit for so-called membrane electrolysis which does not use toxic mercury any more. Till then, the membrane technology should undergo the process of environmental impact assessment (EIA), and its testing operation should be finished, too,“ explained Hana Kuncová from the Arnika Association.
Arnika required the shut-down of the mercury electrolysis in 2009 already. „Yet, we regard setting of validity of the integrated permit till the end of 2012 as a success. It is, in a way, a compromise solution. But, in particular, we are sure that Spolchemie will not extend operation of the amalgam electrolysis unnecessarily,“ noted Kuncová.
Within the framework of the process of issuing of the integrated permit, Arnika succeeded in tightening of also other binding conditions of the operation. For example, in the case of mercury emissions to air from outlets from the NaOH Evaporator and KOH Evaporator, designated as medium sources of air pollution, single mercury measurements will be carried out once in each calendar year. In the application, Spolchemie proposed to carry out single measurements of mercury emissions from these pollution sources only once every three years.
„The control of mercury content in one of electrolysis products - in stiffened lye solutions - will also represent an important control mechanism,“ added Arnika's chairman, Jindřich Petrlík, DSc. The integrated permit sets which lye solutions may be treated by the evaporators, on the basis of mercury content in the lye solutions.
(1) Point 6.8. of the integrated permit against which Arnika filed the appeal:
„If valid permits will not be issued according to the preceding comments Nos. 6.7.1 and 6.7.2 by August 31, 2009, then the time of transition to the membrane electrolysis, as well as validity of the integrated permit for operation of the mercury electrolysis, will be extended by the time necessary for obtaining the appropriate permits. “