Olin Corp., under pressure to convert its mercury-cell chlorine factories in Georgia and Tennessee to cleaner technology, is seeking $41 million in federal bond financing for its Tennessee plant, but has no similar plans for its Augusta facility.
According to a report this week in the Chattanooga Times Free Press , the company is working with officials in Bradley County, Tenn., to secure bonds through an American Recovery & Reinvestment Act program for an "undisclosed project" at its Cleveland, Tenn., plant.
That plant -- and the company's chlor-alkali site in Augusta -- are among four such factories in the U.S. that still use mercury to make chlorine. The others are a PPG Industries facility in Natrium, W.Va.; and Ashta Chemicals' plant in Ashtabula, Ohio.
Federal legislation that would have required them to convert or close is stalled in Congress and probably will die this session, but sponsors are already being lined up for its expected reintroduction in 2011, according to congressional aides.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is also studying new standards requiring "maximum achievable control technology" that might eliminate the use of mercury, according to the environmental group Oceana.
Olin officials have acknowledged they are evaluating the elimination of mercury but have not revealed whether they would convert -- or close -- the Augusta plant if such a law were passed.
According to the report in the Times Free Press , Olin is looking at feasibility studies but has made no final decision on its project. The bonds are available only through Dec. 31.
Company spokesman Elaine Patterson would not say whether the Cleveland plant's "undisclosed" project involves a conversion, but said there are no plans to seek similar funding opportunities for its Augusta site.
"We regularly evaluate business opportunities that can help our plants remain competitive," she said in an e-mailed response to questions. "That includes potential access to government incentives of various types."