Here’s the problem: General Motors went through the bankruptcy earlier this year and was able to pawn off a lot of unwanted things onto a new company called, originally, General Motors Company (since renamed Motors Liquidation Company). Some of the unwanted crap includes polluted old factories (which we knew about) and the responsibility to safely discard mercury switches in vehicles that were scrapped in the recently-concluded Cash For Clunkers program.
Millions of mercury switches were used in anti-lock brakes sensors and hood and trunk light switches until automakers phased them out in 2004. Since 2005, the group End of Life Vehicle Solutions Corporation (ELVS) “manages, on a nationwide basis, programs to collect, transport, retort, recycle, or dispose of elemental mercury from automotive switches.” GM is not listed as a member of ELVS, but GM told us that Motors Liquidation Company is a part of ELVS.
So, who’s responsible for the mercury in the clunked GM vehicles? The Mercury Policy Project issued a press release earlier this week saying that GM “has reneged on a commitment to safely discard those switches so they don’t pollute our air and water” by not funding ELVS since bankruptcy. This means that ELVS doesn’t have enough money to dismantle and dispose of the hundreds of pounds of mercury in the clunkers, 54 percent of which are GM vehicles.
GM sent us a convoluted statement regarding the issue. You can read it in full after the jump, but this is the important part:
Motors Liquidation Company and General Motors Company are separate companies. Responsibility for mercury switches in vehicles manufactured by General Motors Corporation remains the obligation of Motors Liquidation Company. General Motors Company has not produced any vehicles with mercury switches, and has no mercury switch responsibility under state law or the terms of the Bankruptcy Court 363 Transaction Order.
[Source: Mercury Policy Project, GM]
Photo by kodiax2. Licensed under Creative Commons license 2.0.
GM using bankruptcy to shirk responsibility for clunker mercury switches? originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Sat, 29 Aug 2009 08:42:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.