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Mercury Management



    
    Art, et al,
    
    I asked this question (perhaps from a slightly different 
    perspective) a while back and received several good information 
    packets.  I say the sources were good mainly because I was 
    supprised at how many outlets seemed willing to manage mercury.  
    You may wish to check the archives for past info.
    
    Pa started a one year pilot program for mercury lamp recycling 
    about 1.5 years ago (I think the hope was that mercury containing 
    devices would be adopted under the Universal Waste Rule), 
    designating two in-state facilities to which lamps could be sent 
    without licensed haz waste transporters or manifests.  I believe 
    both facilities will handle other mercury containing devices.  As 
    indicated, the program has been extended into a second year so I 
    assume there have been few problems (or the program is slowly 
    developing).  I lean toward the few problems end since the list of 
    facilities has been expanded to 11 facilities, many out of state 
    (Ma., O.(USA Lamp & Ballast Recycling in Cincinnati...warning, I 
    have no knowledge specific to the facility or their compliance 
    status), Mn., In., Wy.).
    
    The removal of transporter and manifest requirements seemed to 
    greatly help the recycling effort.  Cost-wise, recycling is 
    expected to be less expensive than disposal cost.
    
    This doesn't fully address cost and handling issues, so here are a 
    few other ideas.  (I like to think of mercury as "scrap metal" 
    although the formal definition doesn't fit, regulatory-wise.  Haz 
    waste regulations are somewhat more relaxed if mercury is managed 
    as a "recyclable" or under a state program which relaxes handling 
    procedures.)  
    
    1) Mercury info I received indicated that precious metal brokers 
    may manage small amounts of mercury .  (Mercury containing 
    equipment may be another issue but in some ways, "contained" 
    mercury may help insure purity, source, etc.)  Most towns have a 
    metal broker of some sort.
    
    2) Scrap metal recyclers may be willing to manage the materials 
    (bulk or in equipment) through their brokers.
    
    3) Someone somewhere suggested checking with dentists/hospitals (I 
    never explored this lead, but would be interested if anyone ever 
    has).
     
    4) Since we had some episodes of high school kids intentionally 
    spilling mercury (to shut down school), our Dept. Emergency 
    Response People advertised that they were willing to pick up bulk 
    mercury or mercury containing equipment (not lamps) upon request.  
    I understand around 1000 pounds of mercury was collected from a 
    relatively small area of the state.  It was eventually shipped to 
    one of the lamp recyclers with the state picking up the tab.  This 
    was viewed as less expensive than responding to potential spills, 
    which rapidly became big news in our area, every time someone 
    broke a thermometer.  
    
    5) I have encouraged many facilities to combine their lamp 
    shipments to reduce costs.  This seems most effective for 
    neighboring companies located in industrial parks.  I am aware of 
    some companies that will run a truck past several of their 
    locations on the way to a recycler.
    
    It should be noted, perhaps under more of en energy efficiency 
    heading, that lamp change-outs are most effective when all lamps 
    are changed out at the same time.  Fluorescent lamp life spans are 
    relatively consistent once you get all fixtures "on the same 
    page", so to speak.  This can minimize storage times and increase 
    shipment size.
    
    
    I'd be interested in hearing from others on this topic.
    
    Ric
    illig.richard@a1.dep.state.pa.us