NORWAY: Metallurgy industry targeted for heavy metal reductions

Norway's Pollution Control Authority (SFT) is planning further reductions in mercury and other heavy metal discharges by conducting an investigation into current emissions at 33 metallurgy plants.

“We have sent out letters saying that they have to find out what their heavy metal emissions are,” an SFT spokesperson told edie. Replies are due by the end of January 2000. “We started in the early 80s and focused on particulate emissions, but not on heavy metals,” said the spokesperson.

Efforts throughout the 1980s resulted in a 90% reduction in mercury emissions by Norwegian industry, but the country’s government and environmental groups both want zero or close to zero discharges of mercury and other heavy metals by 2010.

SFT admits to being caught in the middle, with industry unhappy with the country’s position at the forefront of heavy metal emission control and environmental groups frustrated by slow progress. “We have to be in the middle,” said the spokesperson.

The metallurgy industry survey currently underway relates to mercury, lead, chromium, copper, cadmium and arsenic discharges. Mercury emissions to air became a public issue in Norway last summer, when newspaper reports highlighted the relatively high mercury emissions at two plants recently purchased by the French multinational, Eramet. SFT admits that Eramet inherited the mercury emission levels, but a request by the company to increase the allowable emissions even further was denied. “We now have a good dialogue with the company,” said the SFT spokesperson.

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