Albemarle unveils soil and mining waste treatment for mercury remediation

Mike Edwards   

News Albemarle MercLok mercury mining waste soil remediation

Albemarle Corporation of Charlotte, NC, has unveiled a product that captures mercury from soil and mining waste, helping to remove this harmful element from the food chain.

MercLok is a soil treatment for mercury remediation. Known in the industry as an amendment, the treatment is said to cost-effectively capture mercury in soil, mining waste and through in-ground treatment, groundwater over the long term, capturing the potent and highly mobile neurotoxin.

“As a values-driven company, we pride ourselves on innovating products that minimize negative impacts to the environment and surrounding communities,” said Mark de Boer, VP of Sustainability, Albemarle.

“Our new MercLok technology is another proof point in our efforts for making the world safe and sustainable.”

MercLok sequesters elemental and ionic mercury in the environment by capturing and stabilizing the mercury, thus reducing leachability by more than 99%. The product can reduce methylmercury concentration in treated media by over 99%. These results are verified with standard testing methods and field trials monitoring contaminated media leachates and water.

According to the World Health Organization, different forms of mercury can have different effects on people’s nervous, digestive, and immune systems, and on the lungs, kidneys, skin, and eyes, but the mercury found in seafood is the most toxic.

Elemental mercury (or quicksilver) is difficult to contain and expensive to dispose of, and when not contained it dissolves and volatilizes, spreading the environmental, health and safety hazard. As mercury spreads in the environment, it can be transformed into methylmercury (the most toxic form of mercury) by bacteria.

Methylmercury is responsible for bioaccumulation of mercury in organisms such as fish, which makes them harmful when consumed. Therefore, solutions for immobilizing elemental mercury and reducing methylmercury in the environment are needed.

“Mercury is known as quicksilver for a reason,” said Jon Miller, Research and Technology advisor, Albemarle.

“It’s dangerously mobile, working its way through soil, water, air, into the food chain, and into our tissues and nervous system. MercLok immobilizes the poison, meaning it’s locked down to avoid harm in the environment or to humans.”

MercLok can be applied to contaminated media using existing remediation techniques, including in-situ mechanical blending, and direct-push injection. It can also be injected to form permeable reactive groundwater barriers.

The product is non-hazardous to workers who handle the product with the recommended personal protective equipment, the company says, and it is safe for the ecological environment when used as intended. MercLok will be manufactured and sold by Albemarle Amendments, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Albemarle Corporation.

ABOVE: Mark de Boer (left), VP of Sustainability, and Jon Miller, Research and Technology advisor, Albemarle.

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