The Department of Environmental Protection Tuesday ordered Nulife Glass NY (Nulife) to remove all 17 million pounds of stored CRT materials from all five warehouses it uses in Pennsylvania within a year.
The company must remove a minimum of 5 million pounds of CRT materials by June 30, 2017 and continuing to remove CRT materials within a designated timeframe until all CRT materials are removed by no later than February 28, 2018.
“DEP has an obligation to prevent pollution and to protect the health and safety of its citizens,” said Jim Miller, regional director of Northwest PA DEP. “While we encourage new industries and technologies to address the recycling of older televisions and computers, those entities must do so within the rules and regulations established to protect Pennsylvanians.”
The order was issued in conjunction with DEP’s denial of a request for a variance submitted from classifying as a solid waste the 17 millions of pounds of processed or used cathode ray tubes Nulife currently stores at warehouses in Pennsylvania.
CRT materials include the vacuum tubes and associated materials found in older model televisions and computer monitors. These materials contain high lead content and exhibit toxic characteristics.
Since May 2014, Nulife transported approximately 17 million pounds of CRT materials to Pennsylvania warehouses while it was in the process of obtaining a permit from the New York Department of Conservation to construct and operate a lead smelter to recycle the CRT glass in Dunkirk, New York.
Since that time, DEP has been informed that Nulife will cease its lead smelting operations at the Dunkirk facility and surrender its Title V Air Permit.
CRT glass is being stored in five warehouses in northwest PA: two in the City of Erie, and one each in Girard and Lake City in Erie County and Grove City in Mercer County.
DEP denied the variance request because Nulife failed to adequately address the criteria for a variance under the Federal CRT Rule, including: the manner of recycling the CRT materials; when the material would be recycled; and the reason the stored CRT material had accumulated without being recycled.
Nulife also failed to provide adequate assurances of its financial ability to properly dispose of the speculatively accumulated CRT materials.
DEP denied a similar request in October 2016.
Pennsylvania’s 2010 electronics recycling law bans the disposal of CRTs and other electronic waste in landfills and established an electronics recycling program that collects CRTs and other products for recycling to be paid for by electronics manufacturers.
At a hearing in March 2016 by the Joint Legislative Air and Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee, everyone involved in the program from local governments to recyclers said the law does not work and needs to be fixed because electronics manufacturers were not paying for all the material being collected.
For more information on the electronics recycling program, visit DEP’s Covered Device Recycling Act webpage.