EPA files complaint against electronics recycling firm
by Karamagi Rujumba, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
10 June 2009 – The federal Environmental Protection Agency has filed a complaint and compliance order against an Oklahoma electronics recycling company that partnered with a number of area charitable organizations in a free electronics recycling program.
The order, which calls for an EPA hearing, includes seven charges against the Tulsa-based EarthEcycle LLC, which is owned and operated by Jeff Nixon, 44, a former Allegheny County employee.
"EPA takes proper and safe management of electronic waste seriously, which is why we have opened an investigation of EarthECycle for violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act," read a statement issued through agency spokesman Dave Ryan this afternoon.
The EPA announced that it was investigating EarthEcycle last week after the Seattle-based environmental watchdog Basel Action Network released a report last month, claiming that the company collects electronics and then exports them in a manner that makes them hazardous waste.
The environmental group, which has a stated mission of curbing the dumping of hazardous waste in places like China, India and parts of Africa, said that it tracked EarthEcycle containers as they left two Pittsburgh-area storage locations and headed to Newark, N.J., and then to Hong Kong and South Africa.
"As an initial step to address the containers of electronic waste exported by EarthECycle and returned from Hong Kong, EPA filed an administrative complaint and compliance order against EarthECycle," according to the EPA statement.
"We are thrilled to see the EPA follow through so quickly on our investigation," Sarah Westervelt of the Basel Action Network said. "We were blowing hard on the whistle nobody wanted to hear."
The administrative order, which was filed Friday, charges EarthEcycle with failure to make a hazardous determination; failure to prepare a hazardous waste manifest; unauthorized export of hazardous waste; failure to provide notice of the regional [EPA] administrator of an intent to export cathode ray tubes for reuse; failure to package the electronics; failure to label and failure to mark them.
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