Stash of controversial e-waste to be hauled
by Thomas Olson, Tribune-Review
24 June 2009 – The CEO of EarthEcycle, the controversial electronic waste recycler, said two buyers will begin removing the two million pounds of e-waste sitting in a Monroeville warehouse as early as today.
Jeffrey Nixon said trucks and personnel from two recycling companies would sort the ewaste, package it and haul it away. The electronic equipment had been gathered from a used-equipment drive sponsored by the Humane Society of Western Pennsylvania in late March.
"We're selling everything across the board for an average 9 cents a pound," he said. That's after EarthEcycle pays companies in Ohio and Tennessee 10 cents to dispose of computer and TV monitors, whose leaded glass make them hazardous.
Based in Tulsa, Okla., EarthEcycle ran into trouble a month ago after a watchdog group claimed it exported
e-waste to Hong Kong and South Africa to be dismantled, which could expose workers to hazardous metals. The allegation, which Nixon denies, came from the Seattle-based Basel Action Network, or BAN, which said it monitored containers shipped from Pittsburgh in March.
The Environmental Protection Agency filed a seven-count complaint against EarthEcycle on June 5 for failing to notify the EPA or foreign officials of the plan to export the e-waste. Chinese authorities ordered the containers returned to the United States.
Since then, however, EarthEcycle has notified the agency of tentative plans to export e-waste in the future, EPA spokesman Dave Ryan confirmed.
Nixon said the containers are in the hands of customs officials at the Port of Newark. He will probably sell their contents -- computers, printers, cell phones, radios and the like -- to buyers in the United States, he said.
Yesterday was not the first time Nixon has promised to remove the equipment from the Monroeville warehouse, however. Levin Furniture leased use of the warehouse to the humane society, but has grown impatient with EarthEcycle.
"I don't believe what they say because they haven't kept their word with us so far," said Basil Hawanchak, chief financial officer of Levin. "They told us (June 3) they'd remove everything in 10 days, and they just took out one small load."
Nixon would not name the recycler in Ohio. The other, Sitech of New York, could not immediately be reached.
In addition, Nixon said he would pay the humane society $10,000 a day over the next 15 days -- totaling the $150,000 he promised the nonprofit organization for the used equipment its collection drive generated. "The humane society will get their $150,000," he said.
Officials for the humane society, based in the North Side, could not be reached.
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