EU faces up to chlorine mercury legacy

Commission report to environment ministers highlights legal issues, cost implications of phase-out

The EU faces a bill of up to €330m to dispose safely of excess mercury stocks as it phases out an obsolete method of chlorine production, a new report from the European Commission warns. The duration of the phase-out is disputed, but it will be "at least a decade" before the last plant closes down, the Commission says.

Last year the EU environment council expressed fears that the spare mercury could flood markets and cause environmental problems. Prompted by then Dutch environment minister Jan Pronk, it asked the Commission to analyse the legal and other consequences of the phase-out (EED 11/06/01).

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