Vlora, an Abandoned PVC Factory at the Mediterranean Coast: Mercury Pollution, Threat to Humans, and Treatment Options
Pranvera Lazo and Jaroslav Reif
from: Bioremediation of Mercury: Current Research and Industrial Applications (Edited by: Irene Wagner-Döbler). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2013)
North of Vlora in Albania is the site of a former chemical manufacturing complex consisting of a chlor-alkali factory and plants for the production of vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) and polyvinylchloride (PVC). The factory closed in 1992 and was completely destroyed during a civil uprising in 1997. It covers an area of approximately 1 km2 located directly at the coast of the Adriatic Sea. The major environmental problems are the destroyed mercury cells of the chlor-alkali electrolysis plant, the waste-water which has been discharged into the Bay of Vlora without treatment in the past, and the sludge from the former production processes which was dumped in the area between the plant and the Bay. Hydrological, geochemical and geophysical investigations showed that mercury concentrations in ambient air exceeded the emission limit of 50 ng m-3 in about 40% of measurements; the maximum was reached with 50 µg m-3. The soils were found to be contaminated only within the unsaturated zone. Here the maximum mercury concentration was greater than 20,000 mg kg-1. The mercury distribution in marine deposits of the Adriatic Sea did not indicate any influence of the discharged waste water. A significant contamination hot spot was the electrolysis building. Here, mercury concentration was higher than 60,000 mg kg-1. Most of the mercury was present in elemental form. Therefore the impact of mercury pollution in the Bay of Vlora on humans and indicator organisms was small read more ...