Weekly News Bulletin: Jun. 20-26, 2002


California, Minnesota Begin E-Waste Hearings

Sooner or later, consumers are likely to bear some of the financial burden of cleaning up their electronics. In California two bills on Monday go before the state Assembly's Natural Resources Committee that would impose a point-of-purchase fee of as much as $30 on each CRT (cathode ray tube) monitor sold in the state. The money collected would go to establishing a program to encourage recovery, reuse and recycling of the devices when consumers are ready to toss them out. And on the same day in Minnesota, participants in the National Electronics Product Stewardship Initiative will be gathering for a key meeting en route to what many hope will be a nationwide electronics recycling system that has the support of both government and industry. The group's last meeting two months ago produced a draft document proposing a "front-end fee"--that is, a few more dollars on the price tag of a PC or television set...ReadMore »



EPA Study Shows Reduced Risk From Incinerators

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released data confirming greater than 90% reductions in organic, metal, and acid gas emissions from waste-to-energy facilities nationwide as a result of the industry's compliance with the Clean Air Act standards. The emissions inventory and accompanying reports released today by U.S. EPA are based on actual compliance test data of the nation's 66 large-unit waste-to-energy plants following a $1 billion upgrade in pollution control technology required by federal "Maximum Achievable Control Technology" air standards promulgated in 1995 for large unit municipal waste combustors. Waste-to-energy technology results in avoiding the release of 11 million metric tons of greenhouse gases each year into the air, according to the study. The U.S. EPA reports are available from the federal docket, number A-90-45, items VIII-B-11; VIII-B-7; VIII-B-3; VIII-B-8...Read More »



New Study Documents Major Risks To Earth's "Vital Signs"

The Earth's "vital signs" weakened in 2001, but consumers can play a critical role in improving the planet's health, according to the results of an annual study published last week documenting more than 50 social, economic, and environmental trends around the world. The study, "Vital Signs 2002: The Trends That Are Shaping Our Future"--produced by The Worldwatch Institute, a Washington D.C.-based independent organization researching on issues of environmental and social policy--found economic recession, increasing use of fossil fuels, and continued population growth to be some of the more worrying trends identified during 2001. The study stressed that an increasing volume of toxic waste was being created by the haphazard disposal of new technologies. More than 2.9 million tons of "e-waste" ended up in U.S. landfills in 1997, and this figure is expected to rise rapidly by 2004, as tens of millions of cell phones and an estimated 315 million computers are discarded,according to Worldwatch...Read More »



Allied Waste Hires PricewaterhouseCoopers As Accountant

Allied Waste Industries, Inc. (NYSE: AW) has announced that its Board of Directors, acting upon a recommendation of the Audit Committee, has named PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP as its independent public accountant, effective immediately. "We fully expect that with PWC's support, the company's financial statements will continue to meet the highest standards with respect to integrity, objectivity and clarity of presentation -- one of our fundamental commitments to the owners of our company and others that depend on our financial statements," said Tom Van Weelden, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Allied Waste. Previously, Allied Waste's independent auditor was Arthur Andersen LLP...Read More »



IEPA Could Take Cleanup Action Against ComEd

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency may consider enforcement action against Commonwealth Edison unless the utility and local officials develop a unified plan by August to finish cleaning up a contaminated park in Oak Park. After months of deadlock, EPA gave ComEd, the Village of Oak Park and the Park District of Oak Park 60 days to submit details on how they will move forward with the massive, $50 million redemption of Barrie Park, the site of a former manufactured gas plant. Oak Park residents have accused the utility of skimping on its promise to completely remove toxic remnants after air quality monitors in February detected high levels of the carcinogens benzene and naphthalene. ComEd insists that clay caps on any remaining contaminated soil will comply with state environmental safety guidelines while protecting 7,000 park visitors and residents of 30 homes surrounding the 3 1/2-acre park...Read More »



San Antonio, EPA Work Out Innovative Regulatory Agreement

An agreement between San Antonio and the Environmental Protection Agency could allow the city to avoid rigid federal pollution measures. As part of the agreement, local officials would have more control, an approach that's never been tried before. San Antonio officials said the city supports the so-called Early Action Compact, which allows cities to voluntarily run their own pollution-control programs. The plan would most likely result in more expensive vehicle inspections. EPA officials signed a draft of the plan last week that could be in place by the end of the year...Read More »



EPA Looks Into Extent of Montana Asbestos Crisis

Federal health officials are trying to determine whether ore mined in Montana and shipped across the country may have spread potentially fatal asbestos. The western Montana town of Libby, which for decades was the world's largest supplier of vermiculite ore, has been at the center of what lawmakers and federal officials describe as a public health crisis. Now, officials are concerned that the problem has spread to other towns where the vermiculite was taken to be processed into soil conditioner and home insulation. The Environmental Protection Agency has identified 240 sites in 40 states where the vermiculite was shipped from Libby. At least 22 of those sites require some kind of EPA-overseen cleanup...Read More »



BMW Will Draw Power From S.C. Landfill

By the end of the year, South Carolina's BMW plant in Greer will be powered by methane from a Spartanburg County landfill. Turbines at the plant will generate up to 4.8 megawatts of power, enough to heat 10,000 homes and to supply a fifth of the plant's energy needs. The project will be the largest of its kind in South Carolina, according to a database maintained by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Nationwide, BMW's project would rank 92nd among 439 planned or operating projects generating electricity...Read More »


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