by each European Chlor-Alkali Producer
The Euro Chlor paper submitted to POINT 1999 titled “Euro Chlor’s Plan for the
Implementation of PARCOM Decision 90/3 for Mercury Cells in the Chlor-Alkali
Industry” includes an approach proposing a timetable with staged emission reductions
and plant closures with a maximum quantity for the cumulative burden of mercury
emissions. This approach could be achieved by Voluntary Commitments signed by
each of the Euro Chlor member companies in Europe with regard to future mercury
emissions levels and about the closure of existing mercury plants. Following PRAM
2000 meeting and with a view of making constructive contributions, Euro Chlor has
strengthened Commitment 3 and 5 to take account of concerns expressed by
The European chlor-alkali industry have also volunteered to have commitments on
reporting of mercury emissions and on environmentally appropriate disposal of
mercury from shut-down cells.
The six Voluntary Commitment signed by all producers are given below.
No increase in mercury chlor-alkali production capacity
The companies re-state the commitment made in 1995 not to install mercury cells for
any incremental chlor-alkali production capacity.
Mercury cells will not be shipped to third parties
The companies commit themselves not to sell or transfer mercury cells after plant
shutdown to any third party for re-use.
For the production of chlorine, alkalihydroxides and hydrogen
Mercury Emission Reduction Programme
The companies commit themselves to the continuing reduction of mercury emissions
beyond the PARCOM Decision 90/3 standard of 2 g Hg/t Cl2 capacity for emissions
to the atmosphere. Any environmental impact of future atmospheric mercury
emissions from the chlor-alkali industry depends on the total environmental burden of
mercury during the remaining life time of the plants. Therefore, the West European
mercury process chlor-alkali producers will express their emission reduction
commitment as a timetable of staged emission reductions. Specifically, the companies
i. achieving in each country an annual weighted average level of mercury
emissions to air, water and in products not exceeding 1,0 g Hg/t Cl2
capacity by end 2007; and
ii. pursuing their efforts to further reduce their emissions beyond 2007, on
condition that the plants concerned are allowed to operate beyond the year
Some plants, for reasons such as design, age and geography, may not be able to
achieve the above figures, while others will achieve even lower emission levels.
Therefore, in addition to the stated targets for weighted average emission limits, the
companies make a further commitment that no individual plant will exceed a level of
mercury emissions to air, water and in products of 1,5 g Hg/t Cl2 capacity by end
2007 unless there is a firm commitment that the plant will be converted to mercury-
free technology by the end of the year 2010.
In order to reflect any further progress in emission abatement techniques, the
companies will review these commitments no later than end 2007 with a view to
achieving still lower emissions where practicable.
Reporting of individual plant mercury emissions data
Euro Chlor members with chlor-alkali production plants using mercury technology
agree to disclose their individual plant mercury emission data in conformity with the
OSPAR reporting guidelines. In other words no objection will be made because of
the confidential nature of this data. The data will be open to audit by the competent
national authorities through a designated independent third party.
End of existing mercury plants
The mercury cell producers commit to closing or converting their mercury cell chlor-
alkali plants to non-mercury processes when the plants reach the end of their
economic lives. The timing of conversion or shutdown of existing chlor-alkali plants
using the mercury technology will to a large extent depend on factors such as the
environmental performance of the plant and its age, state of its equipment and
economic attractiveness of its relevant market and downstream product mix.
On the basis of a study by an independent external consultant, and recognising the
objectives of the OSPAR Hazardous Substances Strategy the mercury cell producers
could commit to closing or converting their mercury cell chlor-alkali plants to non-
mercury processes by the end of the year 2020 at the latest on condition that there is
an agreement between all stakeholders on a package of measures on the
implementation of PARCOM 90/3.
Safe disposal of metallic mercury from shutdown cells
The companies are determined to use best environmental practices and best available
techniques to appropriately handle the transport, storage and disposal of metallic
mercury that arises after shutdown of the cells with the aim to avoid emissions and
spillage into the environment.
Large quantities of pure mercury (some 12,000 tonnes) will become available as a
result of the closure or conversion of the mercury cellrooms. Recognising that the
pure mercury from cellrooms is best used in a manner that minimises the need for
adding mercury to the global circulation by mining and extracting virgin mercury, the
companies therefore agree:
i. to source so far as possible their future requirements for mercury for the
operation of existing cellrooms from the pure mercury arising from cellroom
closures and conversions. The result will be that members’ net purchases of
virgin mercury from external sources will be minimised, and probably zero.
ii. to regard as the most-favoured option the return of all pure mercury not required
within the industry to an established mercury producer so as to displace new
production of the equivalent quantity of virgin mercury. The feasibility of this
most environmentally favoured solution will of course depend critically on the
time-span over which the plants are converted or closed.
List of Signatures of European Companies (Mercury cells)
Akzo Nobel Base Chemicals BV
Aragonesas Industrias y Energia SA
Elektro-Chemie Ibbenbüren GmbH
Electroquimica De Hernani SA
Electroquimica del Noroeste SA
Elf Atochem SA
Hays Chemicals Ltd
Hellenic Petroleum SA
ICI Chemicals & Polymers Ltd
Industrie Chimiche Caffaro SpA
LII Europe SARL
Norsk Hydro ASA
Produit Chimiques d’Harbonnières
Quimica del Cinca SA
Tessenderlo Chemie SA
Vinnolit Monomer GmbH