Lawsuit Charges EPA Ignoring Lost Mercury

A coalition of environmental groups led by Earthjustice last week filed suit against the Bush administration, asserting that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is failing to protect public health and violating the Clean Air Act by ignoring tons of unaccounted-for mercury emissions each year.

Earthjustice, along with the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club, is asking the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to review a recently published EPA rule on mercury because it fails to address “lost” mercury disappearing from a handful of chlorine plants around the country. In some years, as much as 130 tons of mercury has disappeared from the nine plants that still use mercury in an outdated process for making chlorine.

“These nine chlorine plants are losing more mercury every year than the entire power plant industry as a whole emits,” says Jim Pew, the Earthjustice attorney who is handling the suit. “It's clear the Bush administration is not serious about reducing the public's exposure to this toxin.”

Mercury exposure can cause severe neurological and developmental problems in children. The fetuses of pregnant women who eat mercury-tainted fish and shellfish are at especially high risk.