EPA Files Legal Action against Exporter of e-Waste Following Toxic Trade Watchdog Investigation

For Immediate Release

EPA Files Legal Action against Exporter of e-Waste Following Toxic Trade Watchdog Investigation

Humane Society, Make-A-Wish Foundation warned that e-waste would be dumped in poor nations, decided to move forward anyway

SEATTLE, Wa. - The
Environmental Protection Agency filed a Complaint and Compliance Order
late last week against EarthEcycle, the electronic waste handler for
several charity e-waste collection events held in the Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania in recent days.  The events include those run by two
Humane Society branches, the Make-a-Wish Foundation, and Boy Scout
Troop 30 will hold such a collection event tomorrow.    Basel Action
Network (BAN) tracked 7 sea-going containers of the collected toxic
e-waste to Hong Kong and South Africa after assurances were made by
EarthEcycle owner, Mr. Jeffrey Nixon, that the wastes would be recycled
locally.   The EPA complaint cites 7 violation counts for illegal
management and exportation of “Cathode Ray Tubes” – the picture tube of
old computer monitors and TVs.  The counts include “unauthorized export
of hazardous waste” and “failure to prepare a hazardous waste
manifest.”   

Even
following BAN’s release of its investigation on May 26th, the Humane
Society of Western Pennsylvania refused to break its partnership with
EarthEcycle, the Make-a-Wish Foundation refused to cancel its event,
and it appears the Boy Scout event is going forward although BAN warned
them yesterday.  Meanwhile, even though Mr. Nixon later admitted that
he exported the material, as recently as yesterday Mr. Nixon told local
television reporters that “Nothing wrong has been done anywhere. It's
all hearsay."  

“We
are thrilled to have EPA quickly follow through on enforcing the few
laws we have in the US to control toxic waste exports to developing
countries,” said Sarah Westervelt of the Basel Action Network from their Seattle base.  “EarthEcycle
needs to be held accountable for these illegal and damaging exports. 
But it’s also important for the charities to stop being blinded by
dollar signs, and start seeing the hypocrisy in organizing e-waste
events that irreparably harm children and animals in developing
countries, while their organizations try to protect children and
animals here in the U.S.” 


BAN
has been at the forefront of exposing the “cyber-age” nightmare of
electronic waste exportation to developing countries.  In 2002 and
2005, BAN released two documentary films “Exporting Harm” and “The
Digital Dump”, shining a spotlight on the horrors of the global e-waste
trade and the very damaging impacts of toxic constituents in electronic
products on the workers and environments of communities in Africa and
China.   Recent studies in Guiyu, China, “ground zero” of the
international waste trade, show some of the highest levels of dioxin,
lead and other cancer-causing pollutants ever recorded.   Blood levels
in 80 percent of the children in Guiyu are elevated and already
demonstrable brain impairment has been recorded. 

BAN
estimates that 80% of the electronic waste given to recyclers in the US
and Canada does not get recycled in this continent, but is quickly
exported due to a lack of adequate law, or inadequate enforcement of
laws that do exist.   BAN, together with the Electronics TakeBack
Coalition (ETBC), is seeking national legislation**  to ban the export
of all toxic e-waste (not just CRTs) to developing countries as
European countries have already done.  And BAN has created the
e-Stewards Initiative – a list of responsible e-cyclers* that have
agreed not to export hazardous e-wastes to developing countries.  

“This toxic trade is the height of global irresponsibility,” said Sarah Westervelt.  “Our
country must pass loophole-free federal legislation to put a stop to
what is happening right now in  Pittsburgh and all across America every
day.” said Sarah Westervelt.  “And
consumers, including charities, must be very careful and make use of
the e-Steward recyclers who have agreed not to export toxic e-waste to
developing countries.”

** A bill introduced last month by Congressman Thompson and Green is
unfortunately insupportable as it allows a massive loophole for exports
claimed to be sent for “reuse”, a common ruse of unscrupulous
exporters.

Photos, research and documentation available:

EPA Legal Complaint: www.ban.org/Library/EarthECycleComplaint.pdf

For information from EPA contact:  gentile.laura@epa.gov, Phone 202-564-3158.

Research Report:  “The EarthECycle Pittsburgh Recycling Scam” is available at: www.ban.org/Library/PittsburghScam.pdf

Photographs available at: www.ban.org/photogallery/ and others upon request.


*For a list of e-Steward Recyclers including Pittsburgh area recyclers visit: www.e-Stewards.org  

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