ERCO Cuts Mercury Use In Manufacturing

ERCO Worldwide converts Port Edwards plant from mercury-based technology to membrane technology, extending plant's life at least 25 years.

PORT EDWARDS, Wis. (AP) - A company will quit using mercury in making chlorine and other chemicals, a change environmental groups hailed Thursday as great news.
ERCO Worldwide said it will spend $95 million to convert its plant in Port Edwards from mercury-based technology to membrane technology, extending the life of the plant at least 25 years.
''One segment of the plant will be updated from technology that is 40 years old to what is the most modern technology today and in doing so we will totally eliminate the use of mercury,'' ERCO Worldwide President Paul Timmons said in a telephone interview from company headquarters in Toronto, Canada.
The target is to have the renovation completed by late 2009, he said.
The plant, which has about 80 employees, makes chlorine, hydrochloric acid, caustic soda and potassium carbonate, which are used to make items such as agricultural chemicals, soaps, detergents, deicing materials and alkaline batteries, according to Superior Plus Income Fund, a Canada-based company that owns ERCO Worldwide.
''Membrane is a proven technology and provides significant environmental benefits over the existing mercury-based technology,'' Timmons said in a statement. ''This conversion significantly extends facility life, increases capacity of the facility by approximately 30 percent, reduces operating costs through enhanced efficiency of electrical energy and maintains flexibility in facility operations.''
ERCO Worldwide acquired the Port Edwards plant about two years ago, Timmons said.
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