Section: Findings, declarations relative to mercury pollution from switches in scrap vehicles.
2. The Legislature finds and declares that mercury is a persistent and toxic pollutant that bioaccumulates in the environment and that 41 states, including New Jersey, have issued fish advisories that warn certain individuals to restrict or avoid consuming fish from bodies of water contaminated with mercury.
The Legislature further finds and declares that the United States Food and Drug Administration has advised pregnant women and women of childbearing age who may become pregnant not to eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish due to methyl mercury contamination, and that according to estimates of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, over 600,000 babies are born annually at risk for adverse neuro-developmental effects from in-utero exposure to methyl mercury resulting from the consumption of mercury contaminated fish.
The Legislature further finds and declares that recent findings show that historic and current use of mercury in vehicles can cause the release of as much as 10 tons of mercury to the nation's environment each year.
The Legislature further finds and declares that the vehicle recycling industry, consisting primarily of small business operators, is a vital component of the State's overall recycling efforts; that iron and steel manufacturers provide a valuable scrap metal recycling service; that reliable estimates indicate that iron and steel manufacturing plants are the largest in-State source of mercury emissions; that the main feed stock for these plants is scrap metal which includes shredded end-of-life vehicles, some of which contain mercury in switches that can be emitted to the atmosphere when the scrap metal is melted in high-temperature processes to convert it into new iron and steel products; that mercury provides no benefit to iron and steel manufacturing plants and has no role in the manufacture of iron and steel; and that the federal Environmental Protection Agency recently finalized regulations that would require certain iron and steel foundries to implement work practice standards to exclude mercury switches from the scrap metal feed materials of these foundries.
The Legislature further finds and declares that, with regard to mercury emissions, pollution prevention is more desirable than waste management and pollution control; and that removing mercury switches from end-of-life vehicles before they are crushed or shredded and preventing mercury from entering high temperature processes is an effective way to reduce mercury emissions into the environment.
The Legislature further finds and declares that a majority of vehicle manufacturers have responsibly ceased using mercury switches in currently-manufactured vehicles; that over the next decade and beyond millions of vehicles containing mercury switches will be recycled; that vehicle mercury switch collection programs are being established across the country to protect human health and the environment; and that iron and steel foundries, vehicle recyclers and the residents of this State would benefit from a Statewide program that removes mercury switches from end-of-life vehicles.
The Legislative therefore determines that it is in the public interest of the residents of New Jersey to reduce the quantity of mercury in the environment by removing mercury switches from end-of-life vehicles in New Jersey, by creating a collection and recovery program for mercury switches removed from end-of-life vehicles in New Jersey, and by establishing a system to store the mercury collected and recovered from vehicle mercury switches in the event that environmentally appropriate management technologies are not available.
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