This piece was originally published in the February 2018 issue of electroindustry.
Mark Kohorst, Senior Manager, Environment, Health, and Safety, NEMA
Acting on behalf of Member companies in its Light Source Section, NEMA applied for an exemption from mercury products law to ensure that critical “wide area” lighting systems can continue to operate in Connecticut. This became necessary when staff learned that state authorities interpret a section of the Connecticut General Statutes (CGS) as a ban on high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps that contain more than 100 milligrams and less than one gram of mercury.
The high-wattage HID lamps affected by this regulatory threshold fulfill a variety of general service and specialty lighting requirements. Highly valued for their long operating life and superior efficacy, HID lamps have long been preferred for large indoor and outdoor activity sites as well as sensitive industrial and medical applications.
The state Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) contends that the mercury threshold was codified in 2006 with an effective date of July 1, 2013. At the time the amendments were enacted, NEMA’s understanding was that HID products specified in the statute were not subject to the mercury content limitation and would not become so at any predetermined date.
The problem is the text of CGS Sec. 22a-617(a). While the first two clauses of the subsection clearly institute successively stricter mercury thresholds in 2004 and 2006, the language pertaining to 2013 is indiscernible. In NEMA’s view, it fails to impose new lower limits on HID lamps.
Moreover, during the 2006 legislative process, NEMA members made clear that nonmercury replacements for the high-wattage HID lamps affected by the threshold did not exist and would not be technologically feasible in the foreseeable future. This followed a 2003 recommendation by a mercury workgroup that HID lamps “should be exempted from the phase-out provisions of Sec. 22a-617 of the Connecticut General Statutes.”
Rather than challenge DEEP’s interpretation, NEMA Members chose to pursue a formal exemption. To learn more, contact Mark Kohorst, 703.841.3249 or firstname.lastname@example.org.