GM Restructuring Leaves Mercury Cleanup in Question

GM Restructuring Leaves Mercury Cleanup in Question

In the wake of General Motors' bankruptcy and reorganization, funds for a partnership that takes mercury-containing parts out of vehicles headed for the trash could be drying up.
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The End of Life Vehicle Solutions (ELVS), an auto industry partnership, was created in 2005 to support the removal of mercury switches from vehicles before they get shredded. If left in the vehicles when they are destroyed, the mercury leaks out, posing a danger for humans, animals and the environment.

ELVS works with the National Vehicle Mercury Switch Recovery Program, and has collected 2.5 million mercury switches and 5,600 pounds of mercury. ELVS is scheduled to run until 2017.

More than half of the 36 million mercury switches that were used in vehicles in the '80s and '90s are in GM vehicles, and GM was the biggest participant in the program before its bankruptcy and subsequent restructuring with government aid.

GM says it is now a new company after the restructuring, and since it, in its current form, has not made or makes vehicles with mercury switches, it has no responsibility to take part in the program. That responsibility is put on Motors Liquidation Co., the old version of GM, which is made up of the company's liabilities and underperforming assets.

Since GM was formerly the largest member of the partnership, and companies paid fees based on how many mercury switches they were responsible for, GM's departure has the potential to severely hinder the effort to collect mercury switches. It's especially a danger taking into account the Car Allowance Rebate System, better known as the Cash For Clunkers program, which requires that mercury switches and other hazardous materials are removed before vehicles are destroyed. Some 750,000 vehicles are expected to be taken in under the Cash For Clunkers program.

Other than the Cash For Clunkers program, mercury switch removal is voluntary in 34 states, it's required in 15, and Maine runs a separate program for them.

Junked cars - CC license by dave_7