Title: Mercury mobility and availability in highly contaminated solid wastes from a chlor-alkali plant

Authors: Yailen Busto; Filip Tack; Xiomara Cabrera

Addresses: Study Center of Applied Chemistry, Faculty of Chemistry and Pharmacy, Central University "Marta Abreu" of Las Villas, Camajuani Road, Km 5 1/2, 54830, Santa Clara, Villa Clara, Cuba. ' Department of Applied Analytical and Physical Chemistry, Ghent University, Coupure Links 653, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium. ' Chemical Engineering Department, Faculty of Chemistry and Pharmacy, Central University "Marta Abreu" of Las Villas, Camajuani Road, Km. 5 1/2, 54830, Santa Clara, Villa Clara, Cuba

Abstract: This article suggests an approach of sustainable development in Cuba based on the environmental impact assessment of mercurial sludge generated by a chlor-alkali Cuban plant. It consists of a study of mercury mobility and availability in the sludge samples using sequential extraction procedure. High values of total mercury content (2320 ± 40 mg/kg) in the sludge sample as well as in the toxicity characteristic leaching procedure (TCLP) extract (0.46 ± 0.02 mg/l) were obtained. The highest Hg concentration (52.2 ± 1.5%) was found in the mobile fraction (F1 + F2) indicating a high risk of Hg mobilisation by the presence of water-soluble and exchangeable mercury compounds such as HgCl2, HgSO4 and HgO. The water-soluble fraction (F1) accounts for the 13.7 ± 0.8% of total Hg representing a significant environmental risk due to its easy availability in environmental weathering conditions. The mercury fractionation analyses clearly demonstrate that the chlor-alkali Cuban plant does not represent a sustainable technology from environmental point of view. Furthermore, this study highlights the presence of a wide range of mercury compounds which represents a significant parameter for developing a sustainable technology to treat the mercurial sludge generated by the chlor-alkali Cuban plant.

Keywords: mercurial sludge; sequential extraction; mercury mobility; mercury availability; environmental impact assessment; sustainable development; chlor-alkali plants; fractionation; sustainability; contaminated solid waste; environmental pollution; Cuba; toxicity; leaching; environmental risk; environmental weathering; waste treatment.

DOI: 10.1504/IJESD.2012.049139

International Journal of Environment and Sustainable Development, 2012 Vol.11 No.1, pp.3 - 18

Received: 08 May 2021
Accepted: 12 May 2021

Published online: 12 Sep 2012 *

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