H.R. 6261 (109th): Mercury Reclamation Act of 2006

109th Congress, 2005–2006. Text as of Sep 29, 2006 (Introduced).

Status & Summary | PDF | Source: GPO

I

109th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. R. 6261

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

September 29, 2006

(for himself, Ms. Baldwin, Mr. Burton of Indiana, and Ms. Watson) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce

A BILL

To provide for the protection of public health and the environment from mercury contamination associated with the shipment of elemental mercury or with mercury-bearing solid waste, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Mercury Reclamation Act of 2006.

2.

Findings

Congress finds the following:

(1)

Mercury is a naturally occurring element that is found in air, water and soil. It is a bioaccumulative toxin that is easily absorbed through skin and respiratory and gastrointestinal tissues.

(2)

Communities across the country have been victims of accidental and intentional releases of elemental mercury in schools and other public and private buildings, exposing citizens to harmful mercury vapors and costing millions of dollars in property damage and remediation costs.

(3)

Mercury deposition is a significant public health threat in many States throughout the United States.

(4)

According to a report by the National Academy of Sciences, over 60,000 children are born each year in the United States at risk for adverse neurodevelopmental effects due to exposure to methyl mercury in utero.

(5)

Current Federal hazardous waste regulations allow land disposal of certain highly contaminated mercury wastes without treatment to remove the mercury, despite Environmental Protection Agency-sponsored studies concluding that such disposal practices are not sufficiently protective of human health and the environment.

(6)

According to the Government Accountability Office, in 2003 over 26,000,000 pounds of mercury wastes disposed of in landfills were not required to meet treatment standards promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency for the safe mercury disposal.

(7)

According to the Government Accountability Office, the Environmental Protection Agency does not know how millions of pounds of mercury wastes are treated prior to land disposal and cannot be certain that businesses are properly managing their mercury contaminated wastes.

(8)

The Government Accountability Office determined that many states and landfill operators are misidentifying highly contaminated mercury wastes as debris, which allows these wastes to be landfilled without testing or mercury reclamation as the law envisioned.

(9)

Current Federal laws and regulations do not provide the information necessary for regulators or the public to accurately track mercury-containing items from generation to disposal.

(10)

Mercury is released to the environment when mercury-containing products are discarded in landfills and broken in the waste stream, polluting our water and threatening the health of workers and others exposed to mercury vapors from these releases.

(11)

While mercury-containing wastes must be properly managed and recycled whenever possible, the energy conservation benefits of using mercury-based compact fluorescent lighting are highly significant.

(12)

Use of fluorescent lamps creates a net environmental benefit, reducing mercury emissions by lowering energy demands on power plants burning fossil fuels to generate electricity.

(13)

Less than twenty-five percent of mercury-containing lamps disposed of each year are recycled, leading to the release of mercury from over one-half billion lamps broken in solid waste without any mercury recovery.

(14)

A study by a major retailer finds that changing 100 million light bulbs to compact fluorescent lights would: save $3 billion in energy costs, keep 45 billion pounds of greenhouse gases from reaching the atmosphere, and would eliminate the need for 1.3 coal-fired power plants.

(15)

The Federal government should develop specific programs to increase the collection and recycling of mercury-containing lighting devices, particularly from consumers and small businesses. By stimulating the nation's ability to collect and recycle mercury-containing lighting devices, the Federal government will achieve the dual goals of energy conservation and environmental protection.

(16)

Current Federal laws and regulations allow many discarded mercury items to escape regulation due to inadequate mercury testing methods and loopholes allowing significant amounts of waste to be improperly disposed of as solid waste without mercury recovery and other environmental protections.

(17)

Improved tracking of mercury-containing wastes is critical to ensure that mercury is reclaimed from mercury wastes whenever feasible.

3.

Mercury waste packaging, tracking and storage

(a)

Amendment of Solid Waste Disposal Act

Subtitle D of the Solid Waste Disposal Act is amended by adding the following new section at the end thereof:

4011.

Mercury waste packaging, tracking and storage

(a)

Regulations

The Administrator, in cooperation with the Secretary of Transportation, shall review the storage, transportation, tracking and packaging requirements of their respective departments and agencies as they pertain to mercury-bearing solid waste, as defined in section 1004(27) of this Act, including those wastes which qualify as hazardous wastes under this Act, and shall promulgate, within 18-month of enactment of the Mercury Reclamation Act of 2006, regulations to protect public health and the environment governing the tracking, storage, packaging, record keeping, and reporting on the shipments of mercury-bearing waste. Such regulations shall address any deficiencies in the current regulations of the Administrator and of the Secretary of Transportation governing the transportation, storage, and packaging of mercury-bearing wastes and intact, defective or broken mercury-containing products.

(b)

Tracking

The regulations under this section shall ensure the ability of regulators and the public to track the generation, treatment, and disposal of mercury wastes and require accountability for both waste generators and treatment, storage, and disposal facilities to properly identify and document mercury wastes and comply with the proper treatment and disposal requirements for such wastes.

(1)

The regulations promulgated under this paragraph shall include, but not be limited to, promulgation of regulations necessary to ensure the ability of regulators and the public to track the generation, treatment and disposal of devices which contain mercury integral to their function and ensure that such devices are properly treated prior to disposal.

(2)

In the case of mercury-bearing waste subject to section 3004(m), tracking requirements shall include a statement of whether the shipment is intended to be treated to reclaim the mercury, and a statement of justification in the event the mercury contained in the waste is not being reclaimed.

(3)

Tracking standards established pursuant to this section for widely generated wastes, as determined by the Administrator, shall be implemented in a manner that improves the ability of regulators and the public to track the generation, treatment and disposal of such wastes while avoiding placing undue burdens on the collection and transportation of such wastes that would discourage the proper collection and treatment of such wastes.

(c)

Packaging standards

Based upon the review of the current packaging standards for mercury-bearing waste shipments of the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency, the Administrator shall promulgate such additional standards as may be necessary to protect public health and the environment. Such regulations shall be structured so as to prevent the release of mercury and mercury vapor during the transportation and storage of mercury bearing wastes

(d)

Households

The tracking and packaging standards under this section shall not apply to wastes generated by households, as defined by the Administrator under this Act, until such wastes are received by a treatment, storage or disposal facility.

(e)

Enforcement

The provisions of subsections (a), (b), and (c) of section 3008 shall apply to violations of subsection (a) of this section in the same manner and to the same extent as such provisions apply to violations of subtitle C.

.

(b)

Table of contents

The table of contents for such subtitle D is amended by adding the following new item at the end thereof:

Sec. 4012. Mercury waste packaging, tracking and storage.

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4.

Devices containing mercury

(a)

In General

The Solid Waste Disposal Act (42 U.S.C. 6941 and following) is amended by adding the following new section at the end of subtitle D:

4012.

Mercury device recycling

(a)

In general

Effective 60 days following enactment of this section, each person who generates any solid waste which consists of a device that contains mercury integral to its function, including but not limited to mercury added lighting, shall

(1)

take such steps as may be necessary to insure that such solid waste is treated as necessary to reclaim the mercury, or

(2)

transfer such solid waste to another person who has accepted responsibility for such reclamation.

The Administrator shall promulgate such regulations as may be necessary to carry out this subsection.
(b)

Household and small generator exemption

(1)

The requirements of subsection (a) shall not apply to any of the following categories of solid waste:

(A)

Solid waste from households, as defined by the Administrator under this Act.

(B)

Solid waste generated by a person who generates during a calendar month not more than 15 items to which subsection (a) would otherwise apply so long as the mercury contained in the items generated in a calendar month does not exceed one half ounce of mercury.

(2)

The Administrator shall develop a voluntary compliance program to maximize the collection of mercury containing items that qualify for the exemption under paragraph (1) of this subsection, particularly those programs involving the take back of spent mercury lamps at the point-of-sale.

(3)

Nothing in this subsection shall affect the authority of any State or local government to provide for the reclamation of solid waste containing mercury.

(c)

State programs

Any State may notify the Administrator that the State has adopted a program providing for the reclamation of mercury from solid waste referred to in subsection (a). Upon receipt and acceptance of such notification, compliance with the requirements of the State program, as long as it remains in full force and effect, shall constitute compliance with the requirement of subsection (a).

(d)

Enforcement

The provisions of subsections (a), (b), and (c) of section 3008 shall apply to violations of subsection (a) of this section in the same manner and to the same extent as such provisions apply to violations of subtitle C.

.

(b)

Clerical amendment

The table of contents for such subtitle D is amended by adding the following new item at the end thereof:

Sec. 4012. Mercury device recycling.

.

(c)

Reevaluation of small generator exemption

Consistent with section 3001(d)(4) of the Solid Waste Disposal Act regarding small quantity generators, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency shall assess and re-evaluate whether the current 100 kg/month exemption for small quantity generators generally, is protective of public health and the environment as it pertains to generators of mercury-containing wastes.

5.

Requiring mercury reclamation from hazardous mercury wastes

Section 3004(m) of the Solid Waste Disposal Act (42 U.S.C. 6924(m)) is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

(3)

Effective 30 days after the date of enactment of this paragraph, the treatment standards applicable to all hazardous waste containing mercury in concentrations equal to or exceeding 260 mg/kg shall require the recovery of mercury from such waste prior to land disposal using a technology approved by the Administrator for such wastes under regulations issued pursuant to this subtitle. The Administrator may, consistent with the protection of human health and the environment—

(A)

limit the organic content of such waste that may be subjected to mercury recovery technologies;

(B)

limit the use of mercury recovery technologies for radioactive wastes;

(C)

issue, by regulation, variances and exceptions to the required use of mercury recovery technologies, based on feasibility of mercury recovery; and

(D)

revise such treatment standards to incorporate the capabilities of the most advanced available mercury recovery technologies.

.

6.

Funding for mercury programs

Section 2007 of the Solid Waste Disposal Act (42 U.S.C. 6941 and following) is amended by adding the following new subsection at the end thereof:

(g)

Funding for mercury programs

There is authorized to be appropriated to the Administrator to award contracts, grants and other funding assistance needed to perform the following tasks (including coordination with the mercury product manufacturing industry, the mercury recycling industry, non-profit organizations, and the States) not more than $50,000,000 for each fiscal year after the enactment of the Mercury Reclamation Act of 2006:

(1)

Preparing an inventory of the legitimate uses of mercury in commercial, industrial, consumer, and medical applications, and the uses of mercury exported from the United States.

(2)

Promoting the recovery of mercury from waste materials.

(3)

Enforcement of Federal regulations for the management of mercury wastes under section 4012 and making grants to States for carrying out State regulatory programs under section 4012.

(4)

Promoting the establishment of mercury lamp take back programs at the point-of-sale to assist consumers and small businesses in the reclamation of spent mercury lamps and devices.

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7.

Annual Report

Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, and annually thereafter, the Administrator shall transmit to the Congress a report on the progress made under this Act. Such report shall include at minimum each of the following:

(1)

A progress summary of any regulatory actions taken in response to the review under section 4011(a) of the Solid Waste Disposal Act.

(2)

A progress summary of mercury device recycling efforts relating to this Act, including a quantitative analysis of the amount of mercury recycled.

(3)

A description of grants and amounts awarded under section 2007(g) of the Solid Waste Disposal Act and of the criteria used for awarding those grants.

(4)

A detailed financial reporting of total administration costs of carrying out this Act.

(5)

A joint summary, by the Administrator and appropriate State officials, that describes the coordination and communication progress and problems between the Federal and State Governments in carrying out this Act.

(6)

Recommendations for greater efficiency or improvement of administration of this Act.