Pennsylvania DEP fines medical waste processing company

Fewer Pennsylvanians will face exposure to a potentially dangerous neurotoxin now that Pennsylvania’s new Mercury-Free Thermostat Law is in place, according to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

Tom Fidler, the DEP’s deputy secretary for waste, air and radiation management unveiled a statewide recycling program that will allow citizens to safely dispose of out-of-service thermostats containing mercury. The program:

  • Bans the sale, installation and disposal of mercury thermostats effective December 8, 2009;
  • Mandates that thermostat manufacturers establish and maintain a collection and recycling program for out-of-service mercury thermostats;
  • Requires that wholesalers who sell thermostats must participate as a collection site for mercury thermostats, effective December 8, 2009;
  • Requires thermostat retailers or contractors to participate as a collection point or provide notice to customers that recycling of mercury thermostats is required under Pennsylvania law and identify locations of nearby collection points;
  • Directs manufacturers and the DEP to provide education and outreach on the proper management of mercury thermostats and other products containing mercury, including maintaining a list of approved collection sites.

Thermostat retailers are not required to meet their responsibilities under the law for another year, but a number of wholesalers statewide voluntarily already are providing collections to the public and to contractors through a program created by the Thermostat Recycling Corp. The nonprofit group was founded in the late 1990s by three major thermostat manufacturers and has been operating successfully in Pennsylvania since 2000. Wholesalers may meet their obligations under the new state law by joining the existing program.