Open Access

Mercury pollution in the Ems estuary

  • K. Essink1
Helgoländer Meeresuntersuchungen33:111


From approximately 1960 to 1975 the Ems estuary received several tons of mercury per year from a chlor-alkali plant, a pesticide factory and some minor sources. The discharge has been reduced drastically from 1976 onwards. In 1975 and 1976 measurements were made on the distribution of mercury in the sediment. The horizontal distribution revealed a strong local enrichment of the sediment near the point of discharge. The vertical distribution was found to be in accordance with the local deposition rates. In the water phase no significant change in mercury content from 1975 to 1978/79 could be demonstrated. In 1978/79 a difference between Ems estuary and Dutch Wadden Sea was not significant. In 1978 mercury contents of eelpoutZoarces viviparus in the Ems estuary were about twice as high as in the Wadden Sea. In the Ems estuary a decrease of these contents was found between 1974/75 and 1978. A similar decline in the Wadden Sea may be related to a decreased mercury discharge by the River Rhine.