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Companies that Illegally Exported Electronic Waste to Hong Kong Agree to Pay Over $21,000 Penalty

Release Date: 12/15/2009
Contact Information: Xiangyu Chu, Office of Compliance and Enforcement, 206-553-2859/ chu.xiangyu@epa.gov - Hanady Kader, EPA Public Affairs, 206-553-0454/ kader.hanady@epa.gov

(Seattle, Wash. Dec. 15, 2009)— Two companies that illegally exported computer monitor waste to Hong Kong agreed to pay a fine of over $21,000, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Ziliang Zhu, doing business as W and E International Trading, and SM Metals, LLC, —currently doing business as Better PC Recycle in Lakewood, Wash.—generated the shipment of over 500 discarded computer monitors and attempted to export them to Hong Kong in April. The Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department notified EPA of the hazardous waste shipment and returned it to the Port of Tacoma in May.

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

The companies agreed to pay a penalty of $21,650 and to dismantle the CRTs at a permitted US facility.

“In cases of electronic waste mismanagement, we trace back to see where the wastes were generated,” said Edward Kowalski, Director of the Office of Compliance and Enforcement in EPA’s Seattle office. “Generators and exporters must take responsibility for proper management and disposal. EPA will use enforcement when necessary to ensure electronic waste doesn’t end up at the doorstep of countries that don’t want it.”

Computer monitors contain cathode ray tubes (CRTs), a part of the video display component of certain 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. Zhu, W and E, and SM Metals exported the waste shipment to Hong Kong without obtaining the destination country’s consent to receive the waste.

For more information on cathode ray tubes and electronic waste, visit
http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/hazard/recycling/electron/crt-fs06.htm.