Companies Accused of Exporting Toxic Computer Parts to China

Ziliang Zhu, owner of W & E International Trading Co., 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 more than 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 (Washington) 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. Texas-based W & E and Washington-based SM Metals 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 www.epa.gov/epawaste/hazard/recycling/electron/crt-fs06.htm.

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