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Yuma glass recycler cited for e-waste violations

Post Time:Aug 17,2009Classify:Industry NewsView:529

A glass recycling plant in Yuma has been cited by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality for violations in connection to the improper storage and handling of e-waste.

According to ADEQ director of communications Mark Shaffer, the agency issued a notice of five violations to Dlubak Glass Company last month after a hazardous waste inspection conducted at the facility April 6.

"It's been the impression of our investigators that Dlubak has taken this matter to heart and are rectifying this situation," Shaffer said. "(Dlubak) basically outgrew their capacity to deal with materials such as this within the environmental regulations that are required."

Dlubak, located at 19472 S. Avenue 1E, operates under a conditional exclusion and is permitted to recycle cathode ray tubes and processed CRT glass, which is commonly known as e-waste.

The facility receives this leaded glass in a variety of forms from Arizona, Oregon and northern California. The majority of that glass, however, comes from televisions and computer monitors.

So-called e-waste is the remnants of old computers and other electronics and contains lead, mercury, dioxin and other toxic compounds. One cathode ray tube holds 7 to 8 pounds of toxic lead.

"They deal almost exclusively with computer monitors," Shaffer said. "The main danger is the screens have lead in them."

The Yuma Sun attempted to contact Dlubak Glass' corporate office in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, seeking comment on this article, as well as the Yuma facility, but neither responded.

Environmental laws in Arizona are no less strict than in other states, according to Shaffer. However, because it is hazardous, regulations in California only allow recyclers to break e-waste down so far, which is why they often send the waste out of the state for further processing.

"A lot of the e-waste at the (Yuma) plant comes from California, I just don't know how much," Shaffer said.

Shaffer said that states, under their own environmental laws, don't have to approve where to send e-waste that is being shipped out of its state, which is how it winds up causing problems in other states.

The Yuma plant has been in operation at its current site for six years and employs 38 people. Dlubak also has facilities in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Texas.

According to the notice of violation, ADEQ inspectors found Dlubak was storing large mounds of broken up CRT glass at its Yuma plant in a way that violated state and federal environmental regulations, which require hazardous waste to be "stored in a building with a roof, floor and walls."

The notice showed tests of soil samples taken from the site found the toxic metals barium and lead. A sample from an indoor floor sweep in the disassembly area gave a measurement of 280 milligrams per liter, a quantity far exceeding the regulatory level of 5 mg/L.

"The company did not take proper steps to determine whether the material they were sweeping was hazardous or not," Shaffer said.

During the April inspection, ADEQ inspectors also observed broken CRT glass stacked in large piles on the ground throughout the facility.

According to the notice, "The soil was stained grey in several locations at the facility, most notably in the east side of the building, the south fence line, the solid waste collection area and the undeveloped western portion of the property."

ADEQ inspectors also found gray-stained soil beyond the Dlubak property boundaries.

Test revealed that samples of the gray-stained soil taken from the east side of the building contained 340 mg/L of lead, and a sample from the south fence line contained 380 mg/L of lead. The regulatory level for lead is 5 mg/L.

Other violations noted in the notice included not properly labeling or storing the e-waste glass. During the inspection, Dlubak was keeping unprocessed CRTs stored in open, unlabeled cardboard containers throughout the facility.

However, in a response to the ADEQ, Dlubak stated it would work with its clients to label boxes of CRTs prior to them being shipped to the Yuma facility and have pre-printed labels at the facility for boxes that arrive unlabeled.

Inspectors also observed glass-washing equipment and glass debris on a concrete pad outside of the facility's building. At the time of the inspection, a Dlubak representative stated the facility's washing activity had been temporarily suspended while repairs were made to its wash line equipment.

The wash line rinses CRT glass prior to bagging and shipment off site. Dlubak stated it was obtaining quotes to repair the wash line equipment, according to the notice.

Although he did not comment directly to the Yuma Sun, owner Dave Dlubak told a CBS television crew from California in late April, before receiving the notice of violation, that there is nothing to worry about at the Yuma facility.

"We've never really had an issue. We don't know that we have an issue now," Dlubak had said.

The television crew was doing an investigative story for its station about where it sends its e-waste to be recycled.

Shaffer said the news crew was actually visiting a facility in Mexico as part of its story and was told to go check out the Yuma facility.

It was that news crew's article that eventually brought the conditions at Dlubak to the attention of the ADEQ when its story aired in May.

Shaffer also admitted the piles of leaded glass at Dlubak's Yuma facility did grow substantially under ADEQ's watch.

According to the CBS news story, California state data shows California recyclers sent 41 million pounds of CRT glass to Dlubak's facility in Yuma in 2007.

Shaffer said Dlubak's Yuma facility will be considered out of formal compliance until the ADEQ re-evaluates the plant again in November.

According to ADEQ records, the last hazardous waste inspection of Dlubak happened back on October 2008. In that inspection, ADEQ inspectors recommended that Dlubak ensure to continue to properly contain glass debris.

The last time Dlubak received a notice of violation was back in March 2003. The violation included the treatment, storage or disposal of hazardous waste without a permit.

According to its Web site, Dlubak Glass Company has been in the glass recycling business for over 70 years and is fully permitted and licensed.

The company claims to be the largest U.S. processor, recycler and broker for automotive glass and windshield glass; the largest U.S. processor and recycler for television and PC monitor (CRT) tube glass; and one of the largest recyclers of window plate and container glass.

Its Upper Sandusky plant processes and sells over 250,000 tons of glass per year, while the plant in Yuma sells over 20,000 tons of glass per year.

Dlubak Glass recycles about 70 percent of the nation's recyclable automotive glass and sells nearly 300 tons per day of recycled glass to the nation's fiberglass industry. The breakdown of glass types recycled by Dlubak is about 75 percent automotive, 10 percent lighting glass, 10 percent television CRT glass and five percent other.

Source: yumasun.comAuthor: shangyi

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