Mercury rising

i-cad2e8f495d98fab5965a348d512d501-diane_sm.jpgShrimp fisherman and environmental activist Diane Wilson gave a talk today at the Harte Research Institute. She speaks without script or slides. That's probably what makes her such a great speaker. Stories of her life as a fisherwoman turned activist invoke depressing, humorous, and inspiring emotions all at the same time.

Diane's best known for sinking her own shrimp boat in protest of toxic discharge at a Formosa Plastic industrial plant here in South Texas, but she's taken on Union Carbide and others like a One Woman Army. She is the author of An Unreasonable Woman: A True Story of Shrimpers, Politicos, Polluters and the Fight for Seadrift, Texas . Environmental organizations like Truthout.org call her an American hero. Read her book. It'll make your mercury rise.

Speaking of which, Diane says mercury contamination in seafood is widely under reported in the Coastal Bend region. She spoke of 1,000,000 pounds of mercury that "went missing" from an Alcoa aluminum plant near LaVaca Bay, Texas. Local fish, crabs, and people were contaminated. This is now a Superfund site, but in her day toxic discharge was business as usual. I wonder, how much have things improved?

Methyl-mercury in seafood is in the news a lot lately, particularly at Mother Jones, which covers the story of canned tuna in some detail, asking "Why is mercury tuna still legal"? Mercury in seafood. You just can't avoid it anymore.

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