Sunday, September 26, 2010

toxic waste dumping

The Scottish newspaper, The Herald, exposes the scandal of "re-cycling" , a cover for tens of thousands of tonnes of toxic waste from Scotland are being illegally dumped in Africa.

Mountains of broken televisions, defunct microwaves, worn tyres, contaminated paper and other waste exported from Scottish homes and businesses end up threatening the environment and endangering the health of people in Nigeria, Zanzibar, Ghana and elsewhere. Much of the wastes contained hazardous chemicals and metals which needed to be properly disposed of. But in developing countries, they were just dumped or burned, causing dangerous contamination. The exports are “dressed” as legitimate recycling operations, with waste electrical goods hidden behind a few rows of properly packaged and working TVs in shipping containers.Recent changes like the switch from analogue to digital displays and flat screens had created a “tsunami" of old TVs and computer monitors flooding ports in Ghana and Nigeria, . There they are often recycled in primitive and environmentally damaging conditions or simply dumped or burned if there is no market for it.

More than 100,000 tonnes of old TVs, computers, microwaves, fridges and other electrical goods are reckoned to be thrown away every year in Scotland. European Commission estimates suggest maybe half of that is unaccounted for. The huge trade in illegal waste has been condemned by environmental groups.
Duncan McLaren, chief executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “We are adding insult to injury by dumping our contaminated and toxic waste back in the very countries, like Nigeria, that have already been scarred so deeply by our thirst for cheap oil and resources.”

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