Two companies caught by EPA trying to export hazardous discarded electronics to Vietnam

Two recycling companies were caught by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency trying to illegally export e-waste to Vietnam.

According to the EPA, in early December Toronto-based Metro Metals Corp., and Minnesota-based recycler Avista Recycling, Inc. attempted to export a shipment of 913 discarded computer monitors to Vietnam through the Port of Seattle. Identified as “scrap plastic”,  US Customs and Border Protection agents intercepted the shipment.

The EPA has imposed a penalty of $31,600 against the companies for violating federal hazardous waste laws. They’re also ordered the two companies to properly dispose of their electronic waste.

The EPA has established that many televisions and computer monitors contain hazardous and toxic chemicals, including:

  • lead
  • mercury
  • cadmium

These can easily leach into and contaminate groundwater if not disposed of properly.

The EPA alleges the companies violated other federal hazardous waste management rules as well. The companies have thirty days to contest the ruling before it automatically becomes final.

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2 Responses

  1. It took me awhile to find the importer in Viet Nam and to interview them for their side of the story. They are coming up to visit me in Vermont this weekend. What is alarming is the 2010 story on Semarang, Indonesia, which was in fact ISO14001, ISO9000, a factory which originally made computers and was buying them from rich nations to refurbish to white-box condition for redistribution in the affordable PC market – 3 billion people earning $3K per year are getting online at 10x the rate of developed nations. Under pressure to put up stories, an “ewaste” export story has become easy fodder to resubmit without investigation. If you dig into this deeper, you will find a disturbing trend of “profiling” Geeks of Color. Please look into it and consider putting up a more nuanced and balanced story if you see fit. Or at least ask questions. There are hours of interviews online at viddler.com of techs in Jakarta who were accused yesterday of the same crime of “primitive” recycling. See slides…

    • Thanks for your comment.

      There’s always another side to any story. I appreciate you pointing this one out.

      Debra

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