Thousands of tons of toxic leaded glass from old TVs threaten America's health and environment

Friday, April 04, 2014 by: PF Louis
Tags: leaded glass, TVs, environmental health

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(NaturalNews) A fire outside of Stone Castle Recycling's main structures has inspired some looking into the storage of old cathode ray tube (CRT) TVs and computer monitors. The fire was outside the building where tons of those junked items were stacked 50 yards from the building.

The fact that other fires, a couple causing injuries, were reported within the same time frame in nearby St. George implies that there could be a serial arsonist loose in the area. But that's local impact news. The national impact has put attention on the storage facilities and the mounting piles of toxic electronic waste. Toxic on two counts: cadmium and lead.

The lead was used as part of the CRT tube's glass and TV or computer monitor screens to strengthen them and minimize radiation emanating from the CRTs. Cadmium compounds were used in some phosphors to illuminate screens and translate electronic data into images.

That's why these CRT tubes and screens are considered toxic waste under international law.

CRT toxic waste first became an issue in California

Apparently, toxic waste removal is like the proverbial hot potato; it moves into other hands until the last major stop has to get rid of it completely.

For example, millions of city water consumers are the last stop for toxic fluoride wastes, which municipalities pay to the phosphate fertilizer, nuclear and aluminum industries that create fluoride wastes. It's a profitable solution for ridding themselves of the expensive burden of eliminating toxic fluoride according to EPA requirements.

According to the Basel Action Network (BAN), a company that was supposed to be the final solution for disposing tons of those toxic parts collected from various California recycling agencies bilked the state of at least a half-million dollars.

That company, Dow Management, was supposed to take 10 million tons of junked California CRTs to lead smelters and other interested parties abroad that would have used the rejected materials. Federal law requires doing this in a timely manner, as stockpiling these junked items for a year is illegal.

But Dow did stockpile them illegally for over a year without prosecution or investigation. A BAN-inspired California CBS investigation discovered the leased warehouses where they were stored and abandoned.

Even worse, Dow's principals, reportedly Chinese nationals, have fled and are nowhere to be found. The abandoned warehouses in Los Angeles and Yuma, Arizona, are left with the problem which they had paid to have resolved by Dow. The principals apparently took the money and ran.

Other issues besides fraud contribute to junked CRTs continuing to be environmental and health nuisances. There is only one lead smelter in the USA and two in Canada willing to melt down the glass to get the lead. And now the supply of old CRTs is exceeding demand.

Abandoned warehouses with stockpiled CRTs exist in several other areas. At least six warehouses filled with CRT debris have been abandoned: Cincinnati is stuck with 1,500 tons; Denver's burdened with 8,000 tons; Halsted, Pennsylvania, and nearby Vestal, New York, are left with 10,000 tons; 3,000 giant boxes of junked CRTs are in Baltimore, Maryland.

Piling old TVs and monitors outdoors on the ground can cause lead to leach into ground water. Interestingly, Stone Castle, the largest electronic recycling company in Utah, had been ordered to move its location due to stockpiled hazardous materials. They did, shortly after their fire. Hmmmm.

BAN founder Jim Puckett feels that the only long-term solution is to urge the EPA to create and manage underground storage facilities for junked CRTs, similar to nuclear waste storage dumps, that are sufficiently sealed to prevent toxic leaching.

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