Arnika measurement revealed that mercury is released from Spolchemie in an uncontrolled way

27.7.2006 - Ústí nad Labem

Merucry emissions are released from the premises of Spolchemie in Ústí nad Labem in an uncontrolled way, and nobody monitors systematically how this happens. Thus, people walking past the factory are exposed to this toxic substance without being aware. This follows from results of measurements carried out by Arnika both inside and outside Spolchemie premises on June 23 and 26 by means of an automatic mercury analyser (Lumex RA-915+) working on the basis of atomic absorption spectrophotometry. The highest mercury concentrations in the air were measured in Solvayova street - 412 ng/m3. This value exceeds the limit valid in the USA by 112 ng/ m3. However, only a limit for annual average of mercury concentrations in outer air exists in the Czech Republic. „But even the limit set in the USA is considered as too benevolent by experts from the National Resource Defense Council“ said Hana Kuncová.

„The carried out measurements of mercury concentrations in the air revealed that Spolchemie is in certain cases, depending on the weather, air circulation and level of mercury releases from the plant, responsible for increased mercury concentrations in its surroundings. If such high concentrations were present for a bigger part of a calendar year, than the mercury immission limit, set by the Czech legislation at the level of 50 ng/m3 as an average value for a calendar year, would be exceeded,“ explained Hana Kuncová, from the Arnika Association, which carried out the measurements.

Note: The Government Decree No. 350/2002 Coll. was changed by the Government Decree No. 429/2005 Coll. and the emission limit for mercury was repealed.

Results of all measurements were described by Arnika in the study „Mercury measurements in the surroundings and in the premises of Spolek pro chemickou a hutní výrobu, a.s. Ústí nad Labem“. This is one of the first studies of this kind in the Czech Republic. „After Spolana Neratovice, where the measurements were carried out by experts from the Institute of Chemical Technology in Prague, our measurements near Spolchemie are the second measurements of presence of toxic substances in the surroundings of chemical plants. Even in the neighbouring countries, such practice is not very common yet, although it could reveal very interesting information concerning contamination of the environment in close vicinity of big chemical plants,“ stated Kuncová.

In the study published today, she proposes that mercury released from Spolchemie should be monitored more consistently. „For example, no monitoring point exists in Solvayova street. However, if the monitoring points were located on correctly selected places, even exceeding of the annual mercury limit could be found. Nevertheless, it would be even better if the Czech Republic reassessed the existing limit and set some more short-term goals. Concerning mercury emissions per inhabitant, we rank among the worst countries in Europe,“ said Kuncová.

The Arnika study also proposes that Spolchemie should monitor thoroughly the state of health of its employees and of the inhabitants, and that it should carry out consistent and long-term monitoring of mercury concentrations in the air in the premises of Spolchemie and in its surroundings, together with corresponding expert institutions and local self-government. Results of the monitoring should be publicly available. At the end of each calendar year, a summary evaluation report should be prepared, which should be also publicly available. In the study, Arnika also recommends that Spolchemie should replace amalgam electrolysis by another technology of chlorine manufacturing by 2009. The amalgam electrolysis is the main source of mercury emissions from Spolchemie.


Arnika - Toxics and Waste Programme - Hana Kuncová

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