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New Jersey law requires scrap yards to 
remove mercury switches from vehicles

TRENTON, NJ (03/30/05) -- Acting New Jersey Governor Richard J. Code has signed legislation, A2482, that establishes a program to remove mercury switches from vehicles prior to melting them for scrap metal.

"Today, New Jersey takes another important step to improve the health of our citizens and protect our environment from mercury," said Codey. "The switch removal program will lower the exposure of pregnant women and children to harmful mercury emissions, reduce the levels of mercury that build up in fish caught by our local fishermen, and aid the state’s iron and steel melters in complying with New Jersey’s mercury regulations."

The bill requires all scrap yards to remove mercury switches from vehicles before sending the scrap metal to iron and steel mills.  New Jersey joins Maine and Arkansas as only the third state in the nation to have mandatory collection and recovery programs for mercury switches. 

The new law was sponsored by Assemblymen Burzichelli, Reed Gusciora, John F. McKeon, and Senators Sweeney and Barbara Buono.  It was co-sponsored by Assemblyman Robert M. Gordon and Assemblywoman Loretta Weinberg and Senators John H. Adler, Joseph Coniglio and Fred H. Madden.

Under the legislation, the vehicle recyclers or scrap yards will receive a minimum of $2 from the major auto manufacturers for each switch they remove. The auto manufacturers also are responsible for establishing a program for the safe final disposal of the switches. 

The approximately 500,000 vehicles that are scrapped per year in New Jersey may contain as much as 1000 pounds of mercury.

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