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ACT NO. 151


Solid Waste; Mercury; Mercury-added Consumer Products

This act attempts to decrease the extent to which solid waste produced within the state results in the mercury contamination of the state. It provides that a manufacturer or wholesaler may not sell at retail in this state, to a retailer in this state, or for use in this state, and a retailer may not knowingly sell specified items if they contain mercury, unless the item is labeled. Mercury-added items to be labeled are a thermostat or thermometer; a switch, individually or as part of another product; a medical or scientific instrument; an electric relay or other electrical device; a lamp; a battery, sold to the public, other than a button battery. Labels must clearly inform the purchaser or consumer that mercury is present in the item and that the item may not be disposed of or placed in a waste stream destined for disposal until the mercury is removed and reused, recycled or otherwise kept out of solid waste or wastewater. Primary responsibility for affixing labels shall be on the manufacturer. The secretary of natural resources by December 1, 1998 shall adopt rules which establish standards for affixing of labels, either to the product or to the package.

The act requires that every person who discards solid waste shall separate labeled mercury-added consumer products from that solid waste, and it requires any contractor who replaces or removes labeled mercury-added consumer products to assure their proper separation and disposal. The act requires that after separation, persons discarding those products shall set them aside in a designated area for collection by a hauler, or deliver them to an authorized facility.

The act provides that transportation of these waste products is not to be considered the transportation of hazardous waste. It requires that by December 1, 1998, solid waste districts and unaligned municipalities shall revise their management plans to provide for a collection program and a public information effort to advise the public about labeled mercury-added products. These plans shall be implemented by June 1, 1999. The act provides that in amending these plans, the approval of the agency of natural resources is not required.

The act requires the agency of natural resources and the health department to assist in providing information about the products covered by the act, the requirements of the law and any collection programs. A specific component of this information program shall be directed specifically at large users of these products. Persons in households who fail to comply with separation requirements shall not be subject to criminal liability for that noncompliance.

The act provides that labeled products are not to be knowingly disposed of in landfills. It prohibits new or renewed contracts for incineration of the solid waste produced within the state at an incinerator that fails to use the best technology currently required by federal law of any solid waste incinerator in the country, in reducing hazardous emissions from the incinerator.

An advisory committee on mercury pollution is established to advise the general assembly, the executive branch, and the general public on matters relating to the prevention and cleanup of mercury pollution and the latest science on remediation of mercury pollution. By January 15 of each year, it is to report to the general assembly regarding matters including: the extent of mercury contamination in the soil, waters and air of Vermont; the extent of any health risks from mercury contamination in Vermont, particularly to women, children, Abenakis and others that use fish as a major source of food; methods available for minimizing risk of further contamination or increased health risk; potential costs of minimizing risks and recommendations for funding measures to reduce contamination and minimize risk of health problems; the effectiveness of recovery measures, and coordination needed with other states.

Effective Date: July 1, 1998