Plant In St. James Parish Seeks Permit To Emit Mercury

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Noranda Alumina officials say they believe their nearly 55-year-old refinery in St. James Parish has been releasing mercury into the air without a permit, possibly since operations began in 1959.

         The Advocate’s David J. Mitchell reports the owners of the once-bankrupt Kaiser Aluminum complex on the Mississippi River are asking state regulators for permission to release up to 250 pounds of mercury per year.

         State and federal records show that would make the plant one of the largest mercury polluters of Louisiana's air.

         Noranda officials told the state Department of Environmental Quality last year that they believe the mercury is rising from steam vents tied to plant heat exchangers, although DEQ has not permitted the release of mercury into the air from anywhere at the plant.

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