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Mercury pollution caused by a chlor-alkali plant

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Since the beginning of the last decade, a chlor-alkali plant operates in Sagua la Grande, in the central part of Cuba. The factor is equipped with a treatment system for trapping Hg in the waste water, which did not always function efficiently. During 1985–1988, a first evaluatian of the environmental impact by Hg was made. Analyses of a terrestrial plant (Mimosa pudica), soils, sediments and aquatic organisms, taken from a dam upstream, that atmospheric pollution by Hg is only restricted to the factory and its surrounding. Nevertheless, the liquid wastes discharged to Sagua la Grande River, have affected aquatic systems downstream up to the estuarine zone of the river mouth. This is confirmed by the examination of core and surface sediment samples, suspended matter, awnaquatic plant (water hyacinth, Eichhornia crassipes) and a sea urchin (Lytechinus variegatus). Different control measures have now limited the Hg discharges and should bring a progressive recuperation of the affected area.

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Gonzalez, H. Mercury pollution caused by a chlor-alkali plant. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution 56, 83–93 (1991).

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