Case Review : Mercury Recovery Facility Creates Federal Clean-Up Site

Reduction in environmental waste is one of the major concerns in the current age. Many manufacturing companies have been blamed for the creation of non-biodegradable waste, which ends up polluting the environment. In some cases, some companies have been formed to take care of many of these wastes. However, the majority of these companies that reclaim waste products have vested interests. This includes the need to recycle these products as a way of making money out of them (Golev & Corder, 2017). In this case, these waste reclamation sites have ended up being even bigger sources of environmental pollution in themselves. This paper reviews a case in which the Mercury Refining Company (MERECO) engaged in the reclamation of mercury-containing wastes, as well as highlighting the environmental and financial impact of this move.

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The case provided indicates that the Mercury Refining Company (MERECO) in New York began taking in mercury-containing wastes in 1955. According to the case study, this includes such waste as used batteries, dental amalgams, and thermometers, among others. Once the company had received these wastes, they refined the mercury and then resold it in various forms in the market. The site is referred to as a commercial hazardous waste area because most of the waste found there was acquired from outside the firm. The firm used the retort method in reclaiming mercury from waste, a method that involves heating and the prevention of the mercury vapor from escaping (Guianas & Vieira, 2016).

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The article also points out that the company engaged in the disposal of mercury-contaminated waste into a river’s tributary. This meant that the water in the river was rendered dangerous for use by humans and animals. Additionally, this was worsened by a fire incident at the facility in 1981. The water used to put out the fire washed most of the mercury-contaminated waste into the river and the nearby environment. This led to the classification of the firm’s location as a highly contaminated area. The company stopped reclamation of mercury-containing waste in 1998. Nevertheless, a study by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) in 1999 concluded that the firm and the area it occupied required a cleanup. This study by USEPA and the eventual cleanup cost approximately $11,500,000. This amount notwithstanding, residual mercury continues to leach into the nearby river.

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Another case that is similar to the one above is one of an electroplater who claimed that he had no hazardous waste in his firm. However, when an inspector visited the firm, he found several containers containing old paint scattered throughout the building. The electroplater claimed that all the chemicals in the containers still had some purpose. This was against the findings of the inspector, which found that the paint was no longer useful. It emerged that the owner of this plant was avoiding the enormous costs associated with proper waste disposal. USEPA used about $2 million in the demolition of the structure and the cleanup of the site.

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From the above elaboration, it is clear that hazardous waste still finds its way into the environment in various ways. Although the Mercury Refining Company (MERECO) had good intentions in engaging in the reclamation of mercury from mercury-containing waste, it ended up being a significant polluter of the environment. The case of the electroplater also shows that some individuals and companies can willingly engage in pollution of the environment by ignoring proper disposal of waste. From the two cases, it is clear that the cleanup of areas containing hazardous waste is very costly.

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