The Mobile Register has produced an excellent package of reports on mercury contamination in Alabama's "Chemical Alley," much of it originating at the Olin Corp.'s plant in McIntosh, Ala. The plant stopped using mercury to produced chlorine a quarter-century ago, yet the toxic liquid metal is still seeping from the plant site into rivers where it contaminates fish and flows ultimately out into Mobile Bay. In 2002, state investigators caught what's believed to be the most mercury-saturated fish ever found in North America, an unfortunate bass with mercury levels 28 times higher than EPA's safe limit.

State officials have tried to assure locals that there's no immediate danger, but many aren't buying it. At a recent meeting, the Register reports,

residents and a lawyer representing them accused state and federal officials of looking after corporations at the expense of the people, of relying on environmental monitoring conducted by those corporations instead of performing their own tests, and of using lower standards in Alabama than in other parts of the country.

Researchers have criticized the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) for using "primitive" methods to monitor mercury levels. ADEM's test is so poor it comes back negative even for water with 42 times the average concentration of mercury.

MINOR EDIT 6-21-05 10:28 a.m.