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Mercury Switch Removal Program

The Mercury Switch Removal Program (MSR Program) is a program created by the North Carolina General Assembly that was signed into law on September 13, 2005. This law requires mercury-containing convenience lighting switches to be removed from all end-of-life vehicles prior to crushing, shredding, or smelting of these vehicles. The MSR Program personnel are responsible for the development, implementation and enforcement of this law. The goal of the Program is to meet or exceed 9 percent% of the national mercury switch removal performance.

On August 11, 2006, with the state of North Carolina participating, the EPA, automobile manufacturers , scrap processors, steel makers and auto recyclers, signed a national Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreement which, in part, created the National Vehicle Mercury Switch Recovery Program. Through this MOU, the auto manufacturers agent, ELVS, will supply educational materials (which include detailed instructions for removal of the mercury switches) and will provide collection containers, shipping and recycling /disposal of the mercury switches. [The End-of-Life Vehicle Solutions (ELVS) is a corporation created jointly by the auto manufacturers. See Hyper-links below for information regarding ELVS and the National MOU.]

Following the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) request to amend the existing law so as to align with the National Vehicle Mercury Switch Recovery Program, Governor Easley, on June 29, 2007, signed amendments to the Mercury Switch Removal legislation, which incorporated guidelines from the Memorandum of Understanding and realigned the legislated requirements.

Overview of the Mercury Switch Removal Program

After June 30, 2007, all vehicle recyclers or vehicle dismantlers must remove the mercury-containing capsule (commonly referred to as a "bullet") located in the hood and/or trunk light assembly, or the entire convenience light assembly containing the mercury switch, in the end-of-life vehicle before that vehicle is crushed (on or off-site). This law applies to vehicle crushers, vehicle dismantlers, vehicle recyclers or vehicle scrap processing facilities who are engaged in the business of acquiring, dismantling, or destroying six or more end-of-life vehicles in a calendar year for the primary purpose of resale of vehicle parts or scrap metal. The vehicle must be marked indicating that the switches are removed and the bullet or the switch assembly must be stored safely and managed under the Universal Waste regulations.

If the vehicle is damaged such that the mercury switch cannot be removed safely (where there is a risk of releasing mercury by breaking the bullet), the vehicle may be crushed and shredded, without further attempts to remove the switch.

After the mercury switches have been removed, the uncrushed vehicle must be marked showing that mercury switches have been removed.

* A log must be kept detailing the number of mercury switches removed and when shipping mercury switches for disposal/recycling, the date and number of switches shipped must also be recorded. It is also requested that the log note the number of vehicles in which the mercury switches could not be removed,

* The mercury switches that have been removed must be safely stored in a sealed (re-sealable container, marked with the words "Universal Waste - mercury-containing equipment" and the date the first switch was placed in the container.

* The switches must be managed as Universal Waste.

Mercury Switch Reimbursement

The Mercury Switch Removal Program will reimburse the vehicle recycler $5.00 for each mercury switch removed. After the mercury switches have been shipped off site, a request for Program reimbursement [$ 5.00 per switch] is to be made to the North Carolina Mercury Switch Removal Program. The request must include:

  1. Completed NC MSR Program Reimbursement Request form (see link below);
  2. A copy of EQ received switch count [To obtain a copy, use link below, EQ-Online. Scroll to the bottom of the page to state reports and select North Carolina in the drop down box and click on Report. Type your company name in the name box and click on Search. Scroll down to your name and check your company information. Click on "view detail," it will list the receiving information, and print out that page (click on the printer icon near the right corner).];
  3. The time period for which these switches were collected; and
  4. For that same time period, if a record of the number of switches which could not be safely removed from scrap vehicles has been kept, please include this information.


It is unlawful for a person to do any of the following:

  1. Knowingly flatten, crush, bale, shred, or otherwise alter the condition of a vehicle from which accessible mercury switches have not been removed, in any manner that would prevent or significantly hinder the removal of a mercury switch.
  2. Willfully fail to remove a mercury switch when the person is required to do so.
  3. Knowingly make a false report that a mercury switch has been removed from an end-of-life vehicle.
  4. Obtain a mercury switch from another source and falsely report that it was removed from a vehicle processed for recycling.

Any person who violates subdivision (1) or (2) above shall be punished as provided in G.S. 14-3. (non-specific - Class 1 misdemeanor). Any person who violates subdivision (3) or (4) above shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be punished as provided in G.S. 130A-26.2. Offenses are punishable by imprisonment and/or fines.

Additionally, a violation of any provision of this Part, any rule adopted pursuant to this Part, or any rule governing universal waste may be enforced by an administrative or civil action as provided in Part 2 of Article 1 of this Chapter of 130A-22(a). Administrative penalties.

The Secretary of Environmental Quality may impose an administrative penalty on a person who violates Article 9 of this Chapter, rules adopted by the Commission pursuant to Article 9, or any order issued under Article 9. Each day of a continuing violation shall constitute a separate violation. The penalty shall not exceed fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000) per day in the case of a violation involving non-hazardous waste. The penalty shall not exceed thirty-two thousand five hundred dollars ($32,500) per day in the case of a first violation involving hazardous waste as defined in G.S. 130A-290.

Contact information and links are listed below:

Mercury Switch Removal Program
Hazardous Waste Section
1646 Mail Services Center
Raleigh, NC 27699
(919) 707-8216

Kelly Galantis   Office Assistance  (919) 707-2805

Mark Burnette Supervisor (704) 684-5013

Mercury Switch Removal Program Regional/County Contacts

Mercury-Containing Equipment FAQ
N.C. Mercury Switch Management - Fact Sheet
Mercury Switch Reimbursement Guidance
End of Life Vehicles Solutions [ELVS]
List of Switches and Lighting Removal Guide
N.C. Session Law 2005-384 as amended by 2007-107
National Vehicle Mercury Switch Recovery Program MOU
National Vehicle Mercury Switch Recovery Program FAQ Sheet
Mercury Spills, Disposal and Site Cleanup