Abandoned Warehouses Full of CRTs Found in Several States

By: Jerry Powell

As part of an investigation into CRT glass recycling markets, E-Scrap News has learned that recycling processors in several states have abandoned operations after charging CRT suppliers and filling up a handful of warehouses with more than 10,000 tons of CRTs and CRT glass. State officials are now struggling with how to manage these problems.

Possibly the most serious of the abandonments is the closure of Luminous Recycling in Denver. Two environmental experts who have toured the site say that the situation inside the warehouse is very serious due to extremely dusty conditions. An East Coast handler of collected CRTs toured the plant while it was in operation, telling E-Scrap News that the plant "was the worst-run CRT recycling facility I have ever seen." A key player in the CRT glass recycling market who has toured the site estimates that the warehouse holds about 8,000 tons of CRT glass. Efforts to contact officials at Luminous Recycling resulted in no responses.

Also of concern to environmental officials is the abandonment of CRT facilities in Yuma, Arizona operated by Dow Management. An industry member who has toured two of the warehouses estimates they contain more than 3,000 tons of CRTs and CRT glass. Notably, CRT suppliers from California and Washington, who work under state electronics recycling programs, sent CRTs to Dow Management. For example, nearly 4,400 tons of CRTs and CRT glass were sent to the Yuma warehouses by 10 California-approved processors during an 18-month period ending this summer. KYO Computer, Inc. was the largest shipper, sending 1,444 tons to Dow Management during this period. Also shipping materials was the eWaste Center, which sent CRTs and CRT glass to the sites from both its California and Washington plants. None of the 10 firms are R2- or e-Stewards-certified.

State officials in California and Washington have now called on the suppliers of CRTs and glass to the Yuma sites to work with the warehouse owners to have the CRT scrap removed. California officials have given the 10 state-regulated suppliers two weeks to take back the CRTs and have them recycled properly.

Efforts to reach officials from Dow Management were unsuccessful.

The investigation by E-Scrap News suggests that the Arizona and Colorado situations are not the only problems in CRT recycling. Several industry players say a Maryland operator also went out of business, leaving a large quantity of CRTs. New York officials are looking into allegations that a Pennsylvania processor may be having problems moving cut CRT glass to markets. Nonetheless, a survey of 27 state e-scrap management officials by E-Scrap News indicates that no CRT processor in those states has received an exemption for the speculative accumulation of CRTs, as mandated under a current U.S. EPA regulation. The regulation essentially requires a CRT processor to recycle 75 percent of the CRTs it accepts in any calendar year. If they stockpile more than 25 percent of their receipts, the firm must seek an exemption.

UPDATED: Abandoned Baltimore Warehouse is Full of CRTs
Last week E-Scrap News reported on several warehouses in Arizona and Colorado where large amounts of CRTs were left behind when the plants closed. Two firms — Dow Management and Luminous Recycling — shut their doors, leaving as much as 10,000 tons of CRTs and CRT glass.

Now E-Scrap News has learned of an abandoned warehouse in Baltimore containing approximately 3,000 Gaylord containers filled with CRTs. The plant was operated by CDM eCycling, which has gone out of business.

In an interview with E-Scrap News, Mike Fannon, one of the owners of CDM, explained how the firm got into the position of having to close. The company previously sent CRT glass to Samsung-Corning in South Korea, but that glass furnace closed. CDM then sent glass to TDM in Mexico, but when TDM stopped handling CRT glass for approximately a year, CDM ended up accumulating material. CDM then sold glass to two primary lead smelters, Xstrata in New Brunswick and Doe Run in Missouri, but eventually was unable to get purchase orders to ship additional glass. "The piles kept snowballing," said Fannon.

At the same time, Fannon encountered management problems with his business partner, who eventually left the firm. To keep the company going, Fannon put his home on the line in order to make payroll. "All the problems added up to my eventually closing the facility in July 2012," he said.

The facility’s landlord has sued for back rent, future rent payments and for the cost of removing the CRTs. Fannon has filed for personal bankruptcy court protection.

Jay Apperson, deputy director of the Maryland Department of the Environment's office of communications commented:

The Maryland Department of the Environment inspected the Baltimore warehouse that is believed to have been leased by CDM eCycling and found containers of cathode ray tubes. As part of the investigation the Department is reviewing a plan from the owner of building to assess any environmental issues. The investigation is ongoing.

*For more information go to http://resource-recycling.com

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