(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Tim Eustace, John McKeon, and Reed Gusciora to prohibit the sale and distribution of mercury relays and switches under certain circumstances was approved by an Assembly panel on Monday.
“Mercury is a highly-toxic, hazardous material and when discarded it ends up eroding in our landfills,” said Eustace (D- Bergen, Passaic). “This legislation strengthens environmental protections to begin the process of limiting the use of mercury where we can.”
The bill (A-2188) would prohibit the sale and distribution of mercury relays and mercury switches under certain circumstances. However, this bill would also establish a process by which manufacturers and product users may apply for a waiver from the prohibition.
“There are plenty of non-toxic alternative products available to use in place of mercury-added relays and switches,” said McKeon (D-Essex, Morris). “We should encourage the use of newer, more eco-friendly products over choosing those which contain mercury.”
“Prohibiting mercury relays and switches will help to reduce the amount of mercury released into the environment when these items are disposed of,” said Gusciora (D-Mercer, Middlesex). “Banning the sale of mercury relays and switches encourages us to be more responsible for decreasing this toxic substance in our environment.”
The bill would not apply to a mercury relay or mercury switch used to replace a mercury relay or mercury switch that is a component of a product which was in use prior to the effective date of this bill, if one of the following applies: the product is used in manufacturing or in a generation, transmission, or distribution facility for electric energy, gas, or water; or the relay or switch is integrated with, and not physically separate from, other components of the product. In addition, the prohibition would not apply when use of a mercury relay or mercury switch is necessary to comply with a federal requirement.
Under the bill, the DEP would establish an application process through which waivers may be provided for up to five years.
The bill was approved by the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee and will now be considered for a vote on the Assembly floor.