Two executives of a Colorado electronics recycling firm were indicted by a federal grand jury on charges related to allegations that it illegally exported over 100,000 end-of-life CRTs overseas.
According to the indictment, between 2005 and 2009, Brandon Richter, owner and chief executive officer of Executive Recycling, and Tor Olson, its former vice president of operations, presented ER as a knowledgeable and responsible company that promised its clients it would dispose of their e-waste, including CRTs, in an environmentally-friendly manner, in accordance with local, state and federal laws and regulations.
The indictment states that ER told its clients, which included both private and public entities, that their e-waste would be recycled “properly, right here in the U.S.,” and not sent overseas. The company, which also has operations in Nebraska and Utah, issued its clients a certificate absolving them of all liability, according to the indictment. Federal officials assert that ER’s disposal practices did not match it promises.
“Contrary to their representations, the defendants sold the e-waste they received from customers to brokers for export overseas to the People’s Republic of China and other countries,” reads the indictment. “The defendants made more than $1.8 million on sales to brokers, including sales of CRTs. If the defendants had disposed of the CRTs in the green manner they promised, then they would have had to pay for such services by a facility authorized to handle CRT glass.”
The indictment also contends that ER exported CRTs while failing to file a Notification of Intent to Export with the EPA. It also states that ER facilitated the transportation of concealment of CRTs for export and destroyed relevant documents. In total, the indictment alleges that, between 2005 and 2008, ER was the exporter of record in over 300 shipments from the U.S., about 160 of which contained a total of more than 100,000 CRTs.
The defendants face charges of wire and mail fraud, environmental crimes and destruction and falsification of records. If convicted, they could face long prison terms and millions of dollars in fines.
“This is a major victory for global environmental justice,” said Basel Action Network executive director Jim Puckett in a prepared statement. “Even before we have a U.S. law in place to explicitly prohibit this dumping on developing countries, the U.S. government’s criminal justice system has recognized the massive toxic trade we first discovered in 2001 as fraudulent, as smuggling, and as an environmental crime. Now these sham recyclers are warned: Their shameful practices can land them in jail.”
In 2007 and 2008 volunteers with the organization photographed 21 sea-going containers at ER’s loading docks that they tracked across the world, with most being shipped to China. BAN then alerted the Government Accountability Office and “60 Minutes” that produced an episode entitled “The Wasteland,” which scrutinized ER.
BAN calls the indictment just “the tip of the e-waste iceberg” and is calling on Congress to pass legislation that would clamp down on the export of e-scrap.