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CBS recently exposed one American firm for illegally shipping toxic electronics waste overseas. This practice has taken a severe toll on the health of locals in communities which the trash is shipped to.  (Source: Greenpeace)
American firm found to be illegally transporting tech trash to China, transforming a town in southern China into a toxic wasteland

There's little doubt that China is heavily polluted.  This was showcased at the Beijing Olympics, which were held under constant fear of smog.  The country is also the world's largest CO2 emitter. 

China and the U.S. have long played the blame game over who is to blame for the other's pollution.  NASA studies have shown that as much as 15 percent of the U.S. air pollution is simply smog blown over from China.  The Chinese, however, say that it’s Western demand that is fueling the production and pollution.

However, the worst pollution problems for China may not be high up in the sky, but much closer to Earth, with the soaring problem of e-waste.  DailyTech was among the first in the tech community to chronicle the growing problem of tech trash

The U.S. and other industrialized nations are fueling this problem by shipping countless tons of electronics trash overseas to the lowest bidder.  This trade occurs despite laws trying to stop it and the efforts of many large American electronics firms to stop the practice.

CBS News' "60 Minutes" is the latest to take an in-depth look into the epidemic.  Its report focuses on China, perhaps the nation with the worst tech-trash importing problem.

In China, the deluge of tech trash has led to gang-controlled electronics wastelands characterized by massive landfills, toxic water supplies and low laying clouds of choking gases.

Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist and authority on waste management at the Natural Resources Defense Council, and contributor to the report, describes the situation stating, "Lead, cadmium, mercury, chromium, polyvinyl chlorides. All of these materials have known toxicological effects that range from brain damage to kidney disease to mutations, cancers.  The problem with e-waste is that it is the fastest-growing component of the municipal waste stream worldwide."

Many of the chemicals which help make electronics less likely to burn, malfunction, or otherwise go awry, according to the medical community, can cause serious side effects on the human body, if improperly disposed.  And with 130,000 computers thrown out every day in the U.S. and 100 million cell phones thrown away annually, it’s easy to see where China gets its tech-trash.

Many citizens in America are eager to help and endure long lines to submit their old electronics for recycling.  However, understanding of what happens to these components is hazy at best.  Says one man, waiting in line to recycle a computer, "Well my assumption is they break it apart and take all the heavy metals out and then try to recycle some of the stuff that's bad."

It turns out many recycling companies are shipping the trash overseas to make a quick profit, at the expense of polluting the environment, and exposing people in countries like China to deadly health problems.

The "60 Minutes" special looked at Executive Recycling, of Englewood, Colorado, which claimed to recycle all its tech trash in the U.S.  Its CEO Brandon Richter stated of shipping tech trash overseas, "Well, you know, they've got low-income labor over there. So obviously they don't have all of the right materials, the safety equipment to handle some of this material."

Well it turns out that Mr. Richter and the company -- despite its assertion that "Your e-waste is recycled properly, right here in the U.S. - not simply dumped on somebody else" -- were guilty of outright lies.  "60 Minutes" tracked shipping containers leaving the companies facilities, which it inspected and found to be full of cathode-ray tube (CRT) monitors, which can have large amounts of lead and other chemicals.  The company was shipping the containers to Hong Kong, a common stopping point before smuggling the containers into China.

The show tracked the electronics to a town in southern China known as Guiyu, which CBS calls a "sort of Chernobyl of electronic waste".  The town was overrun with corrupt officials, who tried to fool the reporters with a faked shop and then forced them out of town with a police escort.  Risking life and limb and returning to the town, the reporters found people melting boiling lead off components, inhaling massive amounts of lead vapor.  Others were using a gold-extracting acid recipe not used in the western world since the Middle Ages, due to its toxic effects. 

Perhaps it is unsurprising, though very sad that Guiyu, which has the world's highest concentration of cancer-causing dioxins has six times the miscarriage rate as normal.  And seven out of ten children in the town have higher than acceptable lead blood levels, something that has been causing severe mental problems and loss of fertility.  Says a CBS reporter, "These people are not just working with these materials, they're living with them. They're all around their homes."

Mr. Hershkowitz explains, "The situation in Guiyu is actually pre-capitalist. It's mercantile. It reverts back to a time when people lived where they worked, lived at their shop. Open, uncontrolled burning of plastics. Chlorinated and brominated plastics is known worldwide to cause the emission of polychlorinated and polybrominated dioxins. These are among the most toxic compounds known on earth.  We have a situation where we have 21st century toxics being managed in a 17th century environment."

After getting jumped by thugs, hired by the local mayor, CBS narrowly escaped with evidence of the dire situation in hand.

Back in the states, the reporters confronted Executive Recycling, stating, "This is a photograph from your yard, the Executive Recycling yard.  We followed this container to Hong Kong."

Mr. Richter responded, "Ok."

CBS followed, "And I wonder why that would be?"

Mr. Richter responded, "Hmm. I have no clue."

Several emphatic denials later, Mr. Richter stated, "I know this is your job.  But, unfortunately, you know, when you attack small business owners like this and you don't have all your facts straight, it's unfortunate, you know?"

The facts remain indisputable, though -- CBS had solid video evidence that Executive Recycling was illegally smuggling tech trash overseas for a quick profit.  And in a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) study, a sting set up with Chinese officials, confirmed this.  It also found 42 other major tech recycling firms from all across America, more than willing to do the same thing.

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RE: 60 Minutes
By amanojaku on 11/10/2008 1:42:18 PM , Rating: 2
I have to disagree with you, although it's not the 60 Minutes of the past. The show isn't perfect (hell, there's a growing list of controversial reports) but it's better than anything you'll get from shows like Fox News. A lot of the issues 60 Minutes covered weren't even mentioned on other shows, and the coverage is generally more in-depth. Of course, everyone has a bias, and mine happens to lean in the direction of 60 Minutes for now.

I read and watch almost every news article and program just to compare them, and no one is perfect. Out of curiosity, what do you consider to be a non-BS news show?

RE: 60 Minutes
By Tsuwamono on 11/10/2008 1:48:15 PM , Rating: 3
Ya but your comparing it to Fox news... thats like saying "Yes i agree Honda Civics aren't fast, but its no Geo Metro..."

RE: 60 Minutes
By MadMan007 on 11/10/2008 3:55:30 PM , Rating: 2
BBC Wolrd News is about the best I've seen for straight-up news reporting although it's still just reporting and not as much commentary. Some other European news agencies are OK but they aren't on often enough. Those tend to have more diverse world news stories.

Otherwise News Hour with Jim Lehrer is nice because they still follow the former mandate of equal coverage. The commentary they get for news items is good and they get both sides of an issue when there's more room for interpretation without getting fringy zealots.

Notice a trend? All those news shows can be found on PBS.

RE: 60 Minutes
By Ringold on 11/11/2008 12:50:11 AM , Rating: 3
BBC admits it has a left-wing bias, and PBS squelched part of an expose on Islamic radicals.,2933,303381,00.html

I'm more disturbed by the PBS censorship than the BBC part, though. No surprise that journalists are liberals, BBC is just being honest.

RE: 60 Minutes
By MadMan007 on 11/11/2008 1:33:56 PM , Rating: 1
The article about the BBC was talking about the BBC as a whole, it mentions TV shows and films too. The BBC World News is still far more informative than any US news broadcast when it comes to world events. I'm a skeptic when it comes to news and information but usually it reports events and facts but I'm smart enough to filter them anyway. They actually have reporters in the field doing front line journalism which is becoming less common in the news media.

Last spring ABG Films and PBS reached a compromise. The PBS network would not run "Islam vs. Islamists" in the "America at a Crossroads" series, but Oregon Public Television would make the film available to individual public TV stations to run when those stations wished.

According to figures provided FOX News by ABG Films, "Islam v. Islamist" has run on more than 70 public TV stations, but not in at least 15 of the top 40 markets including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago or Washington, D.C.

I think I may have seen that episode myself which is why I was confused about your comment. In any case that's not about the News Hour plus it's Fox...enough said there ;)

Is either one perfect? No, probably not, and we all know finding examples of at least one Bad Thing is possible with any organization. Are they a hell of a lot better than network news? You betcha.

RE: 60 Minutes
By Ringold on 11/11/2008 3:50:00 PM , Rating: 2
The BBC World News is still far more informative than any US news broadcast when it comes to world events.

I actually agree with that, it's less sensational. On my google homepage, I use BBC news as my main news feed. The more global coverage alone makes it superior; America is but a part of the world, important things happen outside our borders that never get attention on CNN.

In any case that's not about the News Hour plus it's Fox...enough said there ;)

The link was Fox, but that just happened to be the one I yanked off Google, there are many others. It made quite a stir even among liberals due to the fact it was censorship.

But are both better than CNN/Fox? I agree with you, they are.

RE: 60 Minutes
By Motoman on 11/10/2008 5:34:07 PM , Rating: 2
...have to agree with the Civic vs. Geo comparison...

To your other point though, I have to be honest that I watch very little in the way of "news" programming anymore. I used to be addicted to CNN Headline News...but following in MTV's footsteps, they don't actually show news anymore... And besides, Rudi Bahktiar (sp) left CNN for Fox. And then we found out she's kind of dense.

I do read much stuff on every day. I think shows like the Daily Show and the Colbert Report are more valuable to the viewer than Fox News of 60 Minutes.

RE: 60 Minutes
By Reclaimer77 on 11/11/2008 5:15:15 PM , Rating: 2
I think shows like the Daily Show and the Colbert Report are more valuable to the viewer than Fox News of 60 Minutes.


RE: 60 Minutes
By straycat74 on 11/11/2008 9:54:05 AM , Rating: 2
but it's better than anything you'll get from shows like Fox News

1. Fox news isn't a show.

2. You obviously never watch it. I listen to Talk radio more than tv news, and I can tell you that there is very little slant in either direction, UNLESS they tell you otherwise. UNLIKE MSNBC, where Chris Mathews said he is going to do everything he can to make sure Obama's presidency is successful, because NOW (not the last 8 years) our country needs it.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Yeah, well, you know what? I want to do everything I can to make this thing work, this new presidency work, and I think that – JOE SCARBOROUGH: Is that your job? You just talked about being a journalist! MATTHEWS: Yeah, it is my job. My job is to help this country. SCARBOROUGH: Your job is the make this presidency work? MATTHEWS: To make this work successfully. This country needs a successful presidency.

link with video

RE: 60 Minutes
By Reclaimer77 on 11/11/2008 5:13:50 PM , Rating: 2
Msnbc is absolute garbage. Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann are the most biased people on the planet. And Olbermann is a complete abomination and an insult to everyone who calls themselves a serious journalist/reporter. The man has none, zero, integrity.

Fox news gets a bad name because they have the guts to report things how they are. And nothing chaffs liberals bottoms like the truth or someone who dares to go against the populist grain.

A recent independent study from an analyst group reported that Fox News's election coverage was 40% Obama and 40% McCain. While every other major news network was HIGHLY slanted in Obamas favor. Some as far as 80%+ !

Fox biased ? I don't think so. Its impossible to be 100% balanced on everything, but Fox is the closest thing we have. Hell, they are the only ones even TRYING to be balanced.

"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson

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