ARA Supports Efforts to have Auto Manufacturers Remove Toxic Parts
Fairfax, VA - The Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA) supports an effort by 26 state Attorneys General, which places the responsibility of mercury switch removal on the vehicle manufacturers. Attorney General Eliot Spitzer of New York is leading the effort.
Numerous environmental groups, scrap processors and automotive recyclers support the switch replacement program that calls for mercury switches in vehicles to be replaced with non-toxic switches while motor vehicles come into dealerships for other recall work.
In a recent interview, an Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers spokesperson (of which Ford Motor Company is a member) indicated that mercury switches in existing cars should be removed when the car is scrapped, adding: "The recyclers are already taking out the gasoline, oil and air conditioner refrigerant. It's a simple add-on for them to rip out the mercury switches." ARA would contend that the truly responsible party should perform these so-called "simple add-on" tasks.
"We believe that manufacturers should take responsibility for dealing with their mercury switches," says ARA Executive Vice President, Bill Steinkuller. "The auto manufacturers that have chosen to continue to engineer their vehicles to include mercury switches should be the ones that are responsible for their disposal. They produced the product and profited from it. It defies logic that they now want to deny any responsibility and put the onus on small "mom and pop" auto recyclers," Steinkuller added. According to a recent environmental report, European-sold automobiles have not contained mercury switches since 1993, when mercury use was banned in Sweden.
The plan is widely viewed as one that is least disruptive to the vehicle owner, and one that makes serious strides to protect the environment. The movement is seen as one that could easily be implemented during Ford Motor Company's replacement of over 3,000,000 defective tires.
"Ford has an opportunity to be an environmental leader," Spitzer said. Exposure to mercury is known to cause severe health effects, including brain, kidney and fetal damage.
It should be noted that the European Union (EU), which is made up of 15 countries, drafted legislation agreed to by Parliament in September 2000 that holds manufacturers responsible for taking back any dangerous material that they use when developing a new vehicle. The government of Japan has also adopted similar provisions.