Wyoming company shutters, leaving question marks and glass

Wyoming company shutters, leaving question marks and glass

By Bobby Elliott, E-Scrap News

July 17, 2014

A Wyoming e-scrap operation with CRT glass on its hands has abruptly closed.

Located off of I-80 in Burns, Wyoming Tatooine Electronic Systems closed its doors in the beginning of July without any announcement or forewarning.

The closure appears to have coincided with the arrest of company owner and CEO Jeffrey Stumpf, who has been charged with six counts of sexual assault and five counts of sexual offense. Stumpf is currently being held on $50,000 bail at the Laramie County jail. No court date was scheduled as of July 15, a representative from the jail confirmed with E-Scrap News.

One of Tatooine's longtime clients, the city of Cheyenne, says the company's closure came as a surprise.

"We take a 30-yard roll-off of e-waste there each week and last week there was nobody on-site," said Dennis Pino, Cheyenne's director of solid waste. "We don't know exactly what occurred. … As far as I'm concerned, they broke their contract and I'm going to a different e-waste recycler at this point in time."

Pino said Cheyenne had been sending e-scrap to Tatooine for a decade and, the sudden closure aside, the city was pleased with Tatooine's performance. "We've had no issues," Pino stated. "They've handled everything very well. I never saw this coming."

A February 2013 request from the Wyoming DEQ to remove large amounts of CRT glass stored at the site prompted Pino to keep closer tabs on the facility, and he occasionally stopped by Tatooine's Burns headquarters to check in on the removal process. "They've moved a lot, but there's still a lot on-site," Pino said in reference to the CRT glass.

Keith Guille, Wyoming DEQ's public information officer, said Tatooine was working closely with the state to get glass "properly disposed of" at hazardous waste facilities since last year, when the company informed officials it had moved from Cheyenne to its current location in Burns. It is unclear whether Tatooine met its obligation to recycle or dispose of 75 percent of at least 400 tons of CRT glass during 2013, but Guille says the company was in the process of moving some glass downstream when it suddenly closed.

Once "the dust settles" and more information is available, the DEQ's major role, Guille explained, would be to determine who's responsible for any material that needs processing. "Whoever owns that facility is still responsible for the disposal of material," Guille said. "From our understanding, it's still owned by [Jeffrey Stumpf]."

In the event Tatooine closes permanently and is unable to fund the cleanup of the site, Guille said the DEQ would look into viable cleanup options. He would not say whether Tatooine's suppliers — the firms that send glass and other electronics to the e-scrap company for further processing — could be on the hook for the glass.

Long before the DEQ issued its February 2013 letter — a copy of which was obtained by E-Scrap News — Tatooine had engaged in numerous battles with the public, environmental officials and local journalists.

Newspapers in Wyoming had reported on a number of alleged incidences involving Stumpf and Tatooine, including claims in May of 2012 that CRT glass was being dumped at local landfills.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Stumpf was charged on numerous counts of illegal weapons possession. Tatooine Industries International, which does business as Tatooine Electronic Systems, was registered as a Wyoming corporation in 1996.

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