Tuesday, July 1, 2008

GLRC Mercury In Products Phase-Down Strategy

Jun 30: The Great Lakes Regional Collaboration (GLRC) Executive Committee announced the release of the Mercury in Products Phase-Down Strategy. A team of State, Federal, Tribal, and City government staff wrote the Strategy in fulfillment of a GLRC recommendation to phase out mercury in products in the Great Lakes basin by 2015. The Strategy makes more than 60 recommendations for action by Great Lakes states, cities and tribes to take in order to minimize mercury use and releases caused by remaining uses of mercury-containing products. Recommendations include state bans on the sale of some, but not all, mercury-containing products and a variety of mandatory and voluntary measures for managing the disposal of all mercury-containing products.

The Draft Mercury In Products Phase-Down Strategy was released for public comment through November 5, 2007 [See WIMS 9/11/07]. A total of 47 comments were received, including from the following organizations: American Dental Association; Council of Great Lakes Industries; DTE Energy Company; Mercury Free Wisconsin; Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy (CIELAP); Consumers for Dental Choice; Association of Lighting and Mercury Recyclers; Clean Air Foundation, Environment Illinois; Zero Mercury Working Group; Great Lakes Natural Resource Center - National Wildlife Federation; and Illinois State Dental Society.

Implementation of this strategy is one important element in achieving virtual elimination of mercury inputs into the Great Lakes as envisioned in the Great Lakes Binational Toxics Strategy (see Appendix D). The GLRC endorses the recommendations of the Strategy as valid options for consideration by Great Lakes states, tribes, and municipalities. The GLRC does not expect each state, tribe or municipality to commit to implementation of all of the recommendations, but rather to consider implementation of those recommendations that are appropriate and feasible in its individual circumstances. The Phase-Down Strategy also seeks to complement and enhance the recommendations in the Quicksilver Caucus’s Action Plan and Implementation Strategy for reducing mercury in the environment developed as a project of Environmental Council of the States (ECOS) and linked in the report.

The report indicates that while coal-fired power plants represent the largest air emissions source of mercury, a significant fraction of mercury emissions comes from mercury-containing products, whether from melting steel scrap that is contaminated with mercury contained in switches and other devices used in autos, industrial equipment, and commercial and consumer appliances, or from incineration of municipal, hazardous, and medical waste that can include mercury-containing products such as lamps, batteries, thermometers, and thermostats. Additionally, mercury-based amalgam used in some dental fillings is one of the primary sources of mercury in wastewater.

Access the Mercury in Products Strategy (
click here). Access the GLRC website for additional information and background (click here).