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E-M:/ New Jersey Becomes Third State To Curb Mercury Pollution From Scrapped Vehicles
- Subject: E-M:/ New Jersey Becomes Third State To Curb Mercury Pollution From Scrapped Vehicles
- From: Jeff Gearhart <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Wed, 23 Mar 2005 15:39:29 -0500
- Delivered-to: email@example.com
- Delivered-to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- List-name: Enviro-Mich
- Reply-to: Jeff Gearhart <email@example.com>
Enviro-Mich message from Jeff Gearhart <firstname.lastname@example.org>
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New Jersey Becomes Third State To Curb Mercury Pollution From Scrapped Vehicles
Joins Trend Of States Taking Action On Mercury Pollution
Contact: Jeff Gearhart, Ecology Center 734-761-3186, x117
(March 24, 2005) In a landmark move, New Jersey will become the
third state in the country to require the removal of mercury switches
from cars, the nation's largest manufacturing source of toxic
mercury. The novel legislation, which requires automakers to pay for
the removal of mercury switches from scrapped cars before they are
melted down in steel mills and foundries, has already become law in
Arkansas and Maine, and has been proposed in at least 6 other states.
New Jersey Governor Richard J. Codey signed the mercury switch
legislation (A-2482/S-1292) into law today.
"Momentum is building for a real reduction in mercury contamination
across the country," said Jeff Gearhart, Auto Project Coordinator at
the Ecology Center. "This legislation puts the onus on the
automakers, where it belongs, to remove this neurotoxic contaminant
from scrapped cars, where it can enter our lakes, streams and fish,
and the brains of our children."
The law will prevent mercury in vehicles from escaping into the
environment by providing vehicle dismantlers with a cash incentive to
remove mercury switches from vehicles before they are scrapped. Auto
manufacturers must reimburse the vehicle dismantlers and the state
for removing mercury switches. Vehicle dismantlers will receive
$2.00 per switch, and the state will receive 25 cents per switch to
cover the cost of administering the switch removal program. The
recycling of scrap vehicles in steel mills is the top source of
mercury air emissions in New Jersey, and this bill provides a cost
effective plan for addressing that source.
"Mercury switches create a serious health concern that also
threatens to disrupt the most successful recycling program in North
America," SRI President Bill Heenan said referring to steel's
recycling record, which surpasses that of all other materials.
Mercury switches are the nation's largest manufacturing source of
toxic mercury. Since automakers began installing mercury switches in
autos over 30 years ago, particularly for switches controlling lights
in the trunk and under the hood. The mercury from these devices has
been released into the environment as vehicles are scrapped at the
end of their useful life. While the use of mercury in these switches
was banned in 2003, over 200 million autos containing these switches
were produced between 1974 and 2003 using over 440,000 pounds of
Last year, over 7 million vehicles containing mercury switches were
"retired" from the road. Removing mercury switches from vehicles
prevents this mercury from being vaporized as the scrap metals from
these vehicles is remelted and remanufactured. The auto industry
used an estimated 197 tons of mercury in vehicle switches in the U.S.
and continued to use mercury switches - - saving only pennies per
switch - - for many years after promising to switch to mercury free
Jeff Gearhart, of the Ecology Center said, "This program provides
auto makers with a cost effective solution to rectify a dangerous
design choice they made despite the availability of a cheap, equally
effective and environmentally benign alternative."
The Arkansas bill was also a landmark bill, based on a model
developed by the Partnership for Mercury Free Vehicles (PMFV). Under
the Arkansas law, auto makers must pay $5 for each switch removed and
additional $1 per switch to the Arkansas Department of Environmental
Protection for oversight of the program. The bill passed the
Arkansas legislature with an overwhelming bi-partisan vote - only one
member having voted against the bill. This legislation will also
become the first law in the nation that requires auto manufacturers
to report on steps taken to design vehicles and their components for
Other states, including Washington, Illinois, Pennsylvania,
Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts are considering mercury
switch removal bills.
Link to Governor Codey press release:
The Clean Car Campaign and the Partnership for Mercury-Free Vehicles
have led the campaign on mercury switches. Members includes the the
Michigan-based Ecology Center, Environmental Defense, Steel
Manufacturers Association, Institute for Scrap Recycling Industries,
Steel Recycling Institute, and Automotive Recyclers Association.
Coordinated by Environmental Defense and the Ann Arbor-based Ecology
Center, the Clean Car Campaign is a national campaign promoting a
clean revolution in the motor vehicle industry.
117 N. Division
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
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