Former Chlor-alkali Factory in Pavlodar, Kazakhstan: Mercury Pollution, Treatment Options, and Results of Post-demercurization Monitoring
Mikhail A. Ilyushchenko, , Vladimir Y. Panichkin, Paul Randall, and Rustam I. Kamberov
from: Bioremediation of Mercury: Current Research and Industrial Applications (Edited by: Irene Wagner-Döbler). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2013)
In 1975, a mercury cell chlor-alkali facility in Pavlodar, Kazakhstan began operations. This facility is located at the Pavlodar Chemical Plant (PCP) and began operations when mercury cell technology was at its peak in the former USSR. For a number of reasons, this plant had the highest rate of mercury use among similar designs (estimated at 1500 g of mercury per ton of caustic soda produced). After the collapse of the USSR in 1992, the facility was shut down. Despite a poor economy, scientists, PCP administrators, local environmental NGOs, regional authorities, and local politicians of Kazakhstan persisted to reduce mercury contamination that was inherited from the former USSR military-industrial establishment. Due to financial support from the European Union (EU) and the United States (i.e. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) as well as contributions from Ukrainian scientists, field research was conducted. This research consisted of comprehensive monitoring of the atmosphere, soils, surface water and groundwater to determine the environmental risks posed by localized mercury 'hotspots' that occurred from mercury cell production losses of about 1310 tons of metallic mercury. The mercury clean-up project was distinguished by its unprecedented transparency. Good awareness of the problem, interest of all parties involved in the project and participation of highly qualified specialists and the use of simple and cost effective technologies allowed minimizing the principal risks (mainly for the Irtysh River and communities in the northern outskirts of Pavlodar) at a cost of approximately $ 16 million by the government of Kazakhstan. Past data and archive materials of the PCP and its production history included: environmental monitoring results, risk assessment variants of the demercurization design, and remediation progress. Post-demercurization monitoring was also conducted after completion of clean-up activities to assess the efficiency of the remediation and residual risks and also to make suggestions on further improvement of the environmental situation read more ...