Sunday, February 10, 2008

     

 

 

 

 

  Discarded electronics leach harmful metals into landfills
Recycling discarded electronics is a must in Texas
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

CEDAR CREEK LAKE–Knowing what to do with old computers, printers, cell phones and the like is getting to be a real problem, especially as the number of “must have” electronics multiplies every few years.
The United Nations Environmental Programme estimates discarded electronics make up about 50 metric tons of electronic waste (e-waste) each year.
In the United States, the Environmental Protection Administration says this type of waste contributes 70 percent of the heavy metals and 40 percent of the lead found in U.S. landfills.

Monitor Photos/Pearl Cantrell
A pallet of computer monitors is ready for shipment to the processor. The Shipping and Packing Place, 504 S. Gun Barrel Lane in Gun Barrel City, takes discarded computers, monitors and their accessories for recycling, and it’s free. Pickup can also be arranged by calling (903) 887-8836.

These facts prompted the Texas lawmakers to pass a law last May, making electronics manufacturers and sales outlets come up with recovery plans for recycling old equipment.
Their plans are to be submitted to and reviewed by the Texas Commission on Environment Quality.
The TCEQ is currently in the process of drawing up rules for implementing the law.
That doesn’t mean your old computer has to sit in a closet until they get it figured out, though.
A long list of recyclers (mostly in the Dallas area) and recycling centers are happy to take that old clunky monitor off your hands and your older model computer.
In fact, there’s one right here on Gun Barrel Lane.
The Packing and Shipping Place, Inc. collects old computers and electronics for recycling, and doesn’t charge a disposal fee. Many recyclers do.
A recent trash-off event in the city of Corinth in Denton County took in nearly 4,000 pounds of e-waste. The recycler charged $15 per computer.
Company president David Kornegay doesn’t charge for his service.

Monitor Photos/Pearl Cantrell
The Packing and Shipping Place, Inc. president David Kornegay smashes a hard drive taken from a computer before recycling. The practice ensures private information on that computer is never accessible.

When he gets a computer, he opens it and removes the hard drive. “That’s where all the information is stored,” Kornegay told The Monitor.
“You can write over it, and even reformat it, but there are ways of recovering all that information,” he said.
That’s why he smashes them with a sledge hammer.
“If the discs in the hard drive are scratched or bent in anyway, the sensitive head that reads the disk can no longer access the information,” he explained.
He also knows the people and has toured the facilities that take the different electronics he collects and how they are processed.
So he knows what he collects isn’t finding its way onto a boat being shipped to a third world country for disposal or low-tech processing, which pollutes the environment. Some environmental groups, estimate 75 percent of e-waste from this country ends up in China, Kenya and India.

 Monitor Photos/Pearl Cantrell
A closeup of the smashed hard drive.

Reports of such practices have resulted in mothers in those villages having dangerous levels of lead in their breast milk, among exposure to other deadly contaminants.
Mercury, copper, cadmium, beryllium, nickel and zinc are some of the heavy metals used in computer components. But the worst is lead. Lead accounts for at least 6 percent of the Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) making up the computer monitor and television screen, that’s about four pounds, seven if it’s a really large monitor, two pounds for a smaller one..
When broken, the glass releases hazardous dust, which can harm the nervous and circulatory systems and damages children’s cognitive development.
Kornegay said the place he takes the monitors to, works with them in a “clean room.” The technicians wear environmental suits while capturing the gases inside the tubes and then cutting the glass free of the housing.
“They take every part of the monitor and bring it down to its raw materials for recycling into new products,” Kornegay said. “It’s amazing.”
He declined to name the company he works with saying, “recycling is a cutthroat business.”
Texas isn’t the first state to pass an e-recycling law.
California was among the first. Minnesota’s new law went into effect in 2007.
Retailers Sharp, Panasonic and Toshiba launched a new electronics recycling company to help them comply with new state laws. Electronic Manufacturers Recycling Management Co. (MRM) has already collected 75 tons of used products, reports a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Commissioner.
In anticipation of Texas’ new law, MRM is setting up recycling programs here. It hopes to begin late this year and has made similar agreements with other electronics manufacturers.
Closer to home, Office Depot, Costco and Staples have also implemented e-recycling programs. For a cost of $15 or less, they will take your old electronics for recycling.
While high tech electronics are intact and used properly their materials generally pose no threat to health or environment. However, when equipment is broken or improperly disposed, the toxic elements that compose it are released – posing serious health threats and a pollution nightmare.

 

Wild horses, burros adoption set
Special to The Monitor
CORSICANA-The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is holding a wild horse and burro adoption in Corsicana, Thursday to Saturday, Feb. 14-16 at the Navarro County Expo Center.
The three-day event will feature 90 spectacular animals – adult and yearling horses and burros that once roamed free on public lands in the West.
 

Courtesy photo

Periodically, excess animals are removed from the range to ensure herd health and to maintain balance among the many public uses of the land.
The adoption program is essential for preserving these “living legends.”
Preview of all animals begins 4 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 14, ending at 6 p.m. Gates reopen Friday, Feb. 15 at 8 a.m., with adoptions starting at 10 a.m. and ending at 6 p.m. Adoptions continue 8 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Feb. 16.
Application approval is required and can be done on site. To qualify, one must be at least 18 with no record of animal abuse. Adopters must have suitable facilities and can adopt no more than four animals. All animals must be transported in a covered stock-type trailer with sturdy walls and floors – no drop ramp trailers. Staff will be on hand to assist with the short application process.
The minimum adoption fee is $125 and is set by law. An initial round of competitive bidding will take place Friday at 10 a.m. to determine the adoption fees for those animals that are sought by more than one person. Following the single round of bidding, walk-up adoptions will be processed for $125 on a first-come, first-served basis through the rest of the weekend.
Those interested in the competitive bid adoption are encouraged to come Thursday afternoon or early Friday to select their desired animals and to complete the adoption application in time.
Wild horses and burros are renowned for their strength, endurance, agility and intelligence – characteristics bred into them in the wild which make them ideal for work or recreation.
Since 1973, the BLM has placed more than 217,000 animals in approved homes across the country.
For more information, call 1-866-4-MUSTANGS or visit www.nm.blm.gov.
Directions to the Navarro County Expo Center: From I-45 in Corsicana, turn west on W. 7th Ave. (State Highway 31). Go 2.5 miles to N. 45th St. (FM 2555) and turn north on 45th. Go 1.5 miles more. The facility is located between SH 22 and SH 31 on 45th St.

Mabank names police chief
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

MABANK–It’s official. The Mabank City Council has named Kyle McAfee its police chief.
When Alex Smith left the post last Thanksgiving, McAfee was named interim chief.
The announcement followed a lengthy executive session Tuesday discussing personnel matters in the police department.
The council also authorized the filling of two vacancies in the police department. One post was vacant due to a patrolman leaving the voluntarily leaving city’s employ, and the other was a new position added to the department as part of the budgetary process.
Another executive session held later in the meeting resulted in the city transferring a city property to the Economic Development Corporation. The EDC is paying $6,000 for 117 Market St.
The property is now an empty lot, but was the location of one of the four buildings that burned down July 31, 2006.
“The city is retaining the lot where the pocket park is,” city secretary Louann Confer told The Monitor.
The city council would rather the EDC deal with the inquiries to develop the property. If the city sells property, it has to go out to bid, Confer explained.
“We’ve had some parties express interest in the property,” EDC executive director Scott Confer said.
In other business, council members:
• called a city election for three at-large city council seats May 10. Seats now held by Tim Johnson, Dennis Terry and Shannon Steakley, who was appointed to fill out Judy Junell’s unexpired term, are up for renewal.
• appointed a parks committee composed of Johnson, parks director Ricky Myrick and public works director Ronnie Tuttle to meet with the leadership of the three groups using city park facilities for baseball, soccer and football.
Together, they hope to flesh out terms for park use. Myrick pointed out that new leaders are taking over Little League and the football group had recently been granted use of an undeveloped park space and wants to develop it.
“I think it’s a good time to figure out some ground rules,” he said.
• approved the final plat for Prairie Hills Estates Unit 7. Prairie Hills 7 is s single-family housing development, located behind Brookshire’s, left of McAfee Street.