The US produced 36% of the 386 kt (425,000 st) of bromine produced in the world during 1987. Israel followed with 28%; the USSR, 18%; the UK, 8%; and other countries, 10%. Five US companies operated eight plants in Arkansas and Michigan. Ethyl Corp. purchased the bromine assets of Dow Chemical. This included all brine field leases located in the Magnolia area of Arkansas, distribution equipment facilities and inventories around the world, and certain patents pertaining to Dow's bromine chemical technology. The agreement excluded a calcium bromine plant that was being sold under a US Department of Justice consent decree. Dow closed brine operations in Midland, MI, which included one bromine plant. Dow continued to produce bromine from a plant in Mason County, MI. Ethyl Corp. operated two plants in Magnolia County, AR. Great Lakes Chemical operated four plants in Union County, AR. This included a joint venture with PPG Industries Inc.-Arkansas Chemicals Inc. Morton Thiokol operated a plant in Manistee County, MI. Total US nameplate capacity was 263 kt (580 million lbs). Plant capacity does not reflect production capacity, which depends on brine supplies, concentration of the bromine in the brine, and individual plantextraction processes. Bromine was being tested for leaching gold. About 20 small operators were believed to use a bromine reagent, which was recyclable. Flame retardants represent about 30% of bromine consumption. Bromine is used as a synergist that enters into chemical reactions with antimony, ferric oxide, zinc oxide, and zinc borate during burning to produce a fire retardant product. The Brominated Flame Retardant Industry Panel (BFRIP) is a group of bromine producers that continued research on decabromodiphenyl oxide and antimony oxide in high impact plastic styrene formulations that were reported in the Federal Republic of Germany to produce dioxins and furans when decomposed thermally. A voluntary action by the German Verb and Der Chemische Industrie to reduce and possibly eliminate the use of brominated diphenyl oxides in plastics was announced. BFRIP formulated a program to develop toxicity data and a test protocol for further evaluation. Studies are currently underway on the second phase of the program.