You are on page 1of 2

Advanced Civil and Environmental Engineering

Lecturer: Assoc. Prof. Koichi Yamamoto [Report I] Name: Benita Nathania Student ID: 13-8710-601-0

Mercury Pollution in Indonesia The existence of hundreds of small-scale gold mines scattered around the city of Palu, Central Sulawesi, raises its own concerns of a group of researchers from Toyama University and Toyohashi University of Technology in Japan. They saw that the gold mines in Palu are still use traditional ways which is not environmentally friendly. The majority of the miners in Palu were caught using mercury in very large amounts in order to earn a gold ores. Based on research conducted since 2007 by the Japanese researchers led by Prof. Kawakami, an astonishing data obtained in 2010, mercury levels in the air of Palu city has far exceeded safety standards set by the WHO. He said that gold mining that utilizing mercury will surely produce gold ore cointaining mercury. And when the gold ore going to burning process, mercury contain will evaporate and dissolve into the air. Not only that, the rest of the solution or mercury waste dumped into the river is also poisoning a variety of biota, water streams, as well as the surrounding soil. Average mercury utilization is up to 200tons per year in Palu. Poboya district is one of the traditional gold mining sites operated since 2009 until now. Poboya’s gold potential is about about 2 million ounces. Mercury is used to separate gold with sand, so that Poboya citizen and environment potentially impacted by the use of mercury. Palu Environment Agency said that in 2011 the number of gold miners reached 5,000 people and the number of tromol is about 20,000 units, where each unit uses 0.5 kg of mercury per day and 20% of mercury absorbed by the soil and potentially polluting air, water and soil. Mine waste was entering Gulf waters resulting polluted Gulf waters of Palu, availability of fish resources in the Gulf of Palu threatened. Unfortunately in Indonesia until now there is no minimum limit of mercury in the air. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) also did not mention about the limitation treshold of mercury in an area. As a comparison, limitation of mercury content in the air in Japan is 400 nanograms per m3, while in the United States reached 1,000 nanograms per m3. If an area of the country there is mercury content exceeded the threshold, then the residents had to be evacuated to safer areas.

17 ppm was detected form the fishes caught there so hair mercury contamination was considered as attributable to fish eating (Akagi H et al.2 ppm respectively and those with the hair mercury values more than 20 ppm showed sensory disturbance with 44% and visual field constriction with 17% (Song Zeng Ren et al. Battery manufacturing is the second-largest legal use of mercury in China. The PVC sector. 1998). a good amount of metallic Hg is also lost to rivers and soils through handling under rough field conditions and to volatilization. Other countries manufacture this plastic from oil and do not need a catalyst. The early “good cycle” in Brazil started around 1690 and lasted until 1850. Since this time. China’s most significant use of mercury is unique as a catalyst for the manufacturing of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic from coal. it caused the fishes living there to disappear entirely so the occurrence of Minamata Disease was avoided fortunately. Mercury is used for the separation of fine gold particles through amalgamation in gold mining operations. Small-scale gold mining (artisinal gold mining) is a third important source of mercury demand in China.000 tons per year by 2010 due to the explosive growth of the PVC sector in China. is projected to use more than 1. In addition. The residents in the 2 Indigenous communities along the river near Kenora. it was revealed that a river system in Ontario. The fishermen living on the downstream side of Garimpo showed high hair mercury values in 1994.   . but in most areas. The hair mercury value of the residents living there exceeded 50 ppm and some of them showed as high hair mercury as 100 ppm. 1977) found out mild neurological symptoms among them. The scientist and team (Harada M et al. in that it was caused by an acetaldehyde factory. At garimpos. Ontario were poisoned by eating fish contaminated with mercury. fishermen showed mean and maximum hair mercury values of 20 and 71. Hg rich tailings are left in most mining sites. which releases from 30 to 170 tons of Hg vapor every year to the Amazon atmosphere. However. During the amalgamation process. and more than 90% of detected mercury was methylated (Akagi H et al. Harada M. at approximately 150 tons of demand annually. which accounted for more than 600 tons of the mercury consumed in China in 2004. China. This pollution was the same as that by Chisso Corporation. methyl mercury flew out of a chemical complex into a river. 1996. 1997. amalgam technology is used for almost all gold extraction. Minamata. the Au-Hg omplex is burned in retorts.Mercury Pollution in the World  In 1969. 1995). After the amalgamation step. According to Haerbin University’s investigation. The maximum mercury value of 3. this operation is done in the open air. 1995. those of some of them being confirmed to exceed 100 ppm in 1994. “Garimpeiros” (informal miners) have been active in nearly 100 sites spread throughout the Amazon region. Canada had been contaminated with mercury emitted by a caustic soda factory located upstream and the methyl mercury produced through the methylation of the inorganic mercury in the nature. currently estimated to consume more than 200 tons of mercury demand annually. 1993). In Jirin City.