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Environment

Panel Approves Ban on Mercury Exports

November 5, 2007 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 85, ISSUE 45

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Credit: Nick Koudis/Getty Images
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Credit: Nick Koudis/Getty Images

U .S. exports of elemental mercury would be banned starting in 2010 under legislation approved last week by the House Energy & Commerce Committee. The bill, H.R. 1534, would require the Energy Department to store the mercury generated as a by-product of the mining industry and from chloralkali plants that use mercury cells. The measure also would prohibit the sale of mercury by the U.S. government. The legislation is designed to help stem the flow of commodity-grade mercury from industrialized countries to small-scale gold miners in the developing world. The committee approved the measure 45–2. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), who voted against the bill, says she fears that the private sector's mercury will end up at DOE's Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn., where the department currently stores 1,206 metric tons of mercury left over from Cold War activities.

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