Thirteen states settle with GM over mercury switches

By Bryan Cohen | Jun 23, 2011


CHICAGO (Legal Newsline) - Thirteen states announced a settlement on Thursday with the bankruptcy trust established to resolve claims against the former General Motors Corp.

The settlement will contribute to the safe disposal of mercury-containing switches from automobiles manufactured by GM before it dissolved following bankruptcy. The settlement augments an earlier commitment by the new GM to make a similar payment.

"This step will help provide the funds necessary to retrieve these components from cars before they go out of commission," Illinois Attorney General LisaMadigan said. "It is an important part of our efforts nationwide to reduce the level of mercury in the environment, which poses a health risk to everyone but especially to children."

As part of the agreed order entered in bankruptcy court for the Southern District of New York on Wednesday, the 13 states will share in $2,845,000 set aside by old GM in a program that will assist the participating states in the collection and recycling of mercury-containing switches.

The money will be combined with funds expected from other carmakers to run the mercury switch removal program. Narly 3.5 million switches have been retrieved to date, which represents approximately 7,650 pounds of mercury.

Exposure to mercury can cause serious health effects to children and others, including damage to the kidneys, central nervous system, liver and immune system.

The 13 states taking part in the settlement include Arkansas, Iowa, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Indiana, Maine, Missouri, North Carolina and Vermont.

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