On 20th Anniversary of NAFTA, It’s Time to Ban All Exports of SLABs from the US to Mexico

  On 20th Anniversary of NAFTA, It’s Time to Ban All Exports of SLABs from the
  US to Mexico

Business Wire

ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- December 17, 2012

Diane Cullo, Director of SLAB Watchdog released the following statement
commemorating the 20^th anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement
and calling for action to end Spent Lead Acid Battery (SLAB) exports from the
United States to Mexico:

“Twenty years ago today, President Bush, Mexican President Salinas and
Canadian Prime Minister Mulroney signed the landmark North American Free Trade
Agreement amid strong concerns about the treaty’s environmental effects. While
NAFTA redefined the way North America conducts commerce, paving the way for
economic development in Mexico and opening new markets for American and
Canadian products, it is clear the concerns about the environmental effects
were not unfounded.

Last month the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC), a
tri-governmental environmental working group of Mexico, Canada, and the United
States established by NAFTA, released a scathing report on SLAB exports. The
report cited the failure by the Mexican government to establish an adequate
regulatory structure to prevent workplace and environmental contamination on
par with those laws found in the United States and Canada. Despite more than
750 million pounds of dead car, truck and other lead acid batteries being sent
to Mexico each year, the CEC report noted that none of the Mexican facilities
possessed the environmental or worker protections required for regulatory
approval in the United States or Canada. The report specifically noted the
abject lack of data detailing harmful lead emissions and information about the
blood lead levels of recycling facility workers.

The failure of NAFTA’s mechanisms to protect workers and the environment on
the issue of battery exportation were laid bare recently when the United
States General Services Agency (GSA) tried to convene an industry stakeholder
meeting to establish recycling standards for SLABs produced from government
sources. Because GSA simply does not know if the hundreds of thousands of
SLABs from the federal vehicle fleet and government sources are recycled in
substandard Mexican facilities, GSA, working with ASTM International, sought a
process to establish better standards for Mexican recyclers owned and operated
by U.S. companies like Johnson Controls. A strong industry contingent, led by
Johnson Controls, the battery trade associations, and other opponents of
environmental protection voted to stop the ASTM effort, signaling their
unwillingness to even consider fact-based discussion of this critical issue.

Twenty years later, NAFTA can easily be considered a success for world trade,
but as environmental issues continue to arise more must be done to regulate
hazardous waste that is traded between NAFTA members. Because the violators
will not voluntarily regulate themselves, SLAB Watchdog calls on the
governments of the United States, Canada and Mexico to end SLAB exports.”

For more information on the issue of SLAB exports or for detailed background
on the ASTM process or CEC report, please feel free to contact Diane Cullo by
phone at 703-244-5891, or via e-mail at diane@slabwatchdog.com.

    SLAB Watchdog is committed to the safe and domestic recycling of spent
  lead-acid batteries (SLABs) and operates off of four basic principles: (1)
Recycling of SLABs must occur in the United States by facilities that utilize
    the most advanced technologies that minimize environmental damage; (2)
  Transportation of SLABs must comply with federal regulations regarding the
loading and bracing of SLABs to avoid damage and toxic spills; (3) Collection
facilities should only use battery brokers who sign a memorandum of agreement
committing to use domestic recyclers; (4) Federal, state and local governments
 must establish protocol to ensure that all SLABs generated by their vehicle
                 fleets are recycled at domestic facilities.

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SLAB Watchdog
Diane Cullo, 703-244-5891
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