Stopping mercury rising

Timken has decided to reduce levels of mercury emitted from automobile scrap used as raw material in the steel making process after joining an environmental awareness programme.

As a member of the National Vehicle Mercury Switch Recovery Programme (NVMSRP), steel manufacturers Timken will help to achieve the programme’s target of lowering the level of mercury emissions in the US by 75 tonnes over 15 years.

The program was set up jointly by the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), members of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), car manufacturers and members of the vehicle scrap recycling industry.

Ward J Timken, chairman of Timken and AISI, said: ‘Our joint leadership with the automotive industry in this initiative will help eliminate an important source of mercury emissions, as steelmakers recycle millions of tons of vehicle scrap each year.’

Timken recycled 300,000 tonnes of scrap from vehicles last year.

Mercury switches are found in automotive convenience lighting in car bonnets and boots and some anti-lock braking systems manufactured before 2003. These switches can result in mercury being released into the air if they are not removed before a vehicle is destroyed. The NVMSRP will work directly with scrap suppliers to ensure that the switches are removed before entering the steelmaking process.

Car manufacturers and steelmakers participating in the NVMSRP have created a $4m fund to help carry out the programme’s objectives.