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EPA orders proper disposal of intercepted electronic waste shipment destined for Vietnam

Release Date: 02/15/2011
Contact Information: Xiangyu Chu, Office of Compliance and Enforcement, (206) 553-2859, Tony Brown, EPA Public Affairs, (206) 553-1203,

(Seattle – Feb. 15, 2011) — Metro Metals Corp. and Avista Recycling, Inc. have been ordered to properly dispose of computer waste they attempted to illegally export from Minnesota to Vietnam through the Port of Seattle, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. EPA is simultaneously seeking a $31,600 penalty against the companies for violating federal hazardous waste laws.

Metro Metals Corp., a Toronto, Canada, based company, and Avista Recycling, Inc., a recycling company operating in Hopkins, Minnesota, arranged for the export of a shipment of 913 discarded computer monitors to Vietnam on December 6, 2010. U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents intercepted the shipment, which had been incorrectly identified in shipping paperwork as “scrap plastic,” at the Port of Seattle for inspection before it could leave the U.S.

“Companies that collect discarded cathode ray tubes must be held accountable to manage these wastes in compliance with our laws which ensure that they will be properly handled, and not sent abroad to countries that have not agreed to receive waste from the U.S.” said Edward Kowalski, EPA’s Director of the Office of Compliance and Enforcement in Seattle.

Some televisions and computer monitors contain cathode ray tubes (CRTs). Color computer CRT monitors contain an average of four pounds of lead. CRTs may also contain mercury, cadmium and arsenic.

EPA alleges that the companies violated several federal hazardous waste management requirements designed to ensure the proper management and transport of such wastes. First, the companies failed to evaluate their waste and identify it as hazardous. They also failed to manifest the waste or comply with other pre-transit requirements for such shipments. Even more importantly, the companies failed to notify EPA of their intent to export the waste to Vietnam and, consequently, attempted to bypass the process required for Vietnam to consent to receive hazardous wastes from the U.S. before it can leave the country.

The EPA order will automatically become final unless either of the parties request a hearing on the matter within thirty days.

Discarded CRTs are subject to regulation under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

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