Steelworks ordered to cut mercury emissions

Norwegian authorities move to deal with problem apparently caused by electroscrap

A steelworks in Norway's northern industrial centre of Mo i Rana has been ordered to take immediate steps to reduce mercury emissions estimated at 100 kg per year, the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority (SFT) has announced. Fundia Bygg has been given until 31 May to file a satisfactory progress report or face compulsory installation of cleansing equipment.

Suppliers of scrap iron to the firm are also under scrutiny, particularly dealers in scrapped electrical equipment and white goods, as the amount of mercury released appears to bear a direct relationship to the proportion of electroscrap in the plant's scrap metal intake, the SFT says.

From last year, Norwegian retailers have been obliged to take back all discarded electro equipment, of which Fundia Bygg (formerly Norsk Jernverk) is a major consumer (ENDS Daily 2 March 1999).

At EU level, the European Commission's environment directorate is pushing to include a forced phase-out of the use of mercury in electrical and electronic equipment in a draft directive expected to be released shortly. Though Norway is not an EU member, it is part of the wider European economic area and would thus be strongly affected by the law.

Follow Up:
SFT, tel: +47 22 57 34 00.

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