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Companies With Operations in Washington Illegally Export Electronic Waste to Hong Kong

Release Date: 07/21/2009
Contact Information: Xiangyu Chu, Office of Compliance and Enforcement, 206-553-2859/ Hanady Kader, EPA Public Affairs, 206-553-0454/

(Seattle, Wash. July 21, 2009)-- Ziliang Zhu, owner of W and E International Trading Company, and SM Metals have been ordered to properly dispose of computer waste they exported to Hong Kong, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

In April the companies allegedly prepared for shipment and sent to Hong Kong a container holding over 500 used color computer monitors of assorted makes and models. The Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department notified EPA of the hazardous waste and returned it to the Port of Tacoma in May.

“Electronic waste can pose a serious health hazard if not properly managed," said Ed Kowalski, Director of the Office of Compliance and Enforcement in EPA’s Seattle office. “The illegal export of e-waste to other countries is a big problem—our goal is to ensure recycling of e-waste is done in a safe and environmentally sound manner.”

Computer monitors contain cathode ray tubes (CRTs), which are the video display components of televisions and computer monitors. The glass in CRTs typically contains enough toxic lead to require managing it as hazardous waste under certain circumstances. Color computer monitors contain an average of four pounds of lead. CRTs may also contain mercury, cadmium and arsenic.

The companies’ violations include improperly packing, labeling and marking dangerous waste and failing to notify EPA of the intent to export it.

W and E International Trading Company, based in Texas, and SM Metals, based in Lakewood, Wash., have been ordered to submit a detailed inventory of the items and to develop a plan for management and disposal of the electronic waste.

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

CRTs are subject to regulation under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

For more information on cathode ray tubes and electronic waste, visit