June 23, 2011
Jefferson City, Mo. -- Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster and 11 other states entered into a settlement today with the company formerly known as General Motors Corporation (“Old GM”), which now goes by the name Motors Liquidation Company. For years, Old GM manufactured automobiles with mercury switches. The settlement will fund Old GM’s share of the costs of collecting mercury switches from old cars that are scrapped at the end of their useful life.
The settlement is the result of a claim Attorney General Koster filed on behalf of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources in Old GM’s bankruptcy case. The claim asserted that Old GM had the legal obligation to fund a program to collect, recover, and recycle mercury switches from its cars.
As a result of the settlement, Old GM agreed to a claim of $2,845,000 to resolve the claims of 12 states. The money will be paid to End-of-Life-Vehicle Solutions, Inc. (ELVS), a not-for-profit corporation that operates the National Vehicle Mercury Switch Recovery Program, a voluntary, national program established in 2006 by the United States EPA, automobile manufacturers, and related industries.
“Exposure to mercury can cause serious health effects to children and others by damaging the nervous system, kidneys, liver and immune system,” Koster said. “The National Vehicle Mercury Switch Recovery Program is important for protecting the public and the environment from the harmful effects of mercury.”
Under the recovery program, more than 3.48 million switches containing 7,650 pounds of mercury have been collected and recycled. Without the recovery program, most of that mercury would have gone into the environment.
In a separate agreement, the company now known as General Motors Company (New GM), committed to making an additional contribution of $4.5 million to the recovery program to cover Old GM’s share of the national program costs through 2017. Because the car companies have phased out the use of mercury switches, this settlement and the General Motors Company contribution should provide enough money to fund the program until it is no longer needed.
Joining Missouri in this settlement are: Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Vermont.