The European Commission has welcomed a voluntary agreement of the European chlor-alkali industry to ensure the safe storage of surplus mercury after the export ban takes effect in March 2011. This is the first voluntary commitment from industry to be formally acknowledged by a Commission Recommendation since the Commission laid down common rules and principles on environmental agreements in 2002.
In September 2008, legislation was adopted banning all exports of mercury from the European Union and calling for mercury that is no longer used in the chlor-alkali industry, or that is produced in other major industrial operations, to be stored safely. Faced with this obligation, Euro Chlor, the business association representing chlor-alkali producers in the European Union and the European Free Trade Association regions, has agreed to remove surplus mercury from decommissioned chlorine plants, to transport it to its final destination in approved sealed steel containers and to store it in deep underground salt mines. This will provide safe final disposal of mercury as there is no humidity or possibility of corrosion. The Commission will develop the specific technical criteria these locations will have to meet, as well as rigorous safety requirements to be observed at the sites.