Friday, January 23, 2009

More illegal export of e-waste

Friday, January 23, 2009, 2:46pm MST | Modified: Friday, January 23, 2009, 3:03pm
Agents search Executive Recycling amid accusations of illegal exports
Denver Business Journal - by Greg Avery

Federal agents executed a search warrant Friday at the headquarters of Executive Recycling Inc., an Englewood-based electronics recycler that was accused last year by watchdog groups of illegally exporting unwanted computer monitors that it claims to recycle.

Investigators with the Environmental Protection Agency and the federal bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) searched Executive Recycling’s offices at 3245 S. Platte River Dr.

“We executed the warrant there today as part of an ongoing investigation,” said Rich Mylott, spokesman for the EPA Region 8 headquarters in Denver.

Mylott said the investigation had been under way for months.

The agency is not releasing any more information about what led to the search, or what investigators found. A federal court affidavit filed to gain the search warrant is sealed.

In November, state and EPA officials made it clear the EPA had been examining the export practices of Executive Recycling amid allegations that computer monitors and television sets the company collected for recycling were exported illegally in several instances.

The EPA’s Denver office first sent investigators on an inspection visit to Executive Recycling in September.

The interest in Executive Recycling started with environmental advocacy group Basel Action Network (BAN), a Seattle nonprofit that tries to get the U.S. to enforce its rules limiting, or in some cases banning, the export of cathode-ray-tube (CRT) monitors and TVs. The glass in CRTs contains lead and is considered toxic if not disposed of correctly.

Federal law requires anyone exporting reusable CRTs commercially to register those exports with the EPA.

Eric Johnson, an investigator with the Denver regional EPA office, said in November that the agency could find no CRT re-use export notifications from Executive Recycling.

Shipments containing broken CRTs are considered hazardous waste by many countries and can be illegal to let into their countries. That hasn’t stopped an international, environmentally devastating black market in discarded CRTs and electronics from emerging.

BAN tracked 21 shipping containers from Executive Recycling locations to overseas ports between November 2007 and March 2008, said Jim Puckett, the group’s founder.

In eight of the cases — seven in Hong Kong and one in Peru — the containers were turned away for containing broken CRT computer monitors or TVs, Puckett said.

One other shipment of suspected hazardous electronics waste was filmed leaving Executive Recycling’s yard bound for China, where it was turned away as illegal, for a Nov. 9 episode of CBS’ “60 Minutes” about the underbelly of the e-waste trade.

Brandon Richter, CEO of Executive Recycling, said after the “60 Minutes” piece aired that a second company had bought the shipping container of functioning CRTs from Executive Recycling and exported it. Executive Recycling thought the CRTs were going to be legitimately reused domestically and was itself the victim of fraud, Richter said then.

Richter did not answer questions about the other shipments that BAN said it followed from Executive Recycling yards to overseas ports.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Can you please tell me the exact village where all the e waste was going to after it arrived in hong kong? 60 minutes said it was the worst in the whole world.