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Articles from 2006 In May

Labrie purchases Leach refuse assets

Labrie Equipment Ltd. announced today that it has finalized the purchase of the Leach refuse truck product lines from Federal Signal Corp. (FSC). On Aug. 1, Labrie will assume control of intellectual properties, specific inventories and equipment related to the Leach lines. According to a Labrie press release, the agreement also covers FSC’s parts business, which Labrie will acquire on Jan. 1st, 2007.

The transition “positions Labrie as a top-tier North American leader in waste management equipment, in line with our corporate strategy to consolidate our offering within the solid waste management equipment industry,” says Claude Boivin, president of Labrie.

The company plans to begin production of rear loaders and new front loaders during the last quarter of 2006, integrating the Leach product lines.

New Hampshire bans video displays from landfills

Beginning July 2007, New Hampshire residents will be required to recycle their obsolete TVs, computer monitors and other video display equipment. According to an Associated Press report, the law, signed by Governor John Lynch this week, criminalizes the landfilling or burning of electronic displays in an effort to curb the dispersal of lead and other hazardous materials they contain.

Los Angeles City Council approves plan to double trash fees

Last week, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved a plan submitted by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to gradually raise residential trash fees to fund a major expansion of the Los Angeles Police Department. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, monthly collection rates for homeowners would rise from $11 now to $18 later this year, $22 in the next fiscal year, $26 the next and finally $28 four years from now. While previous attempts to raise collection rates were considered too politically unpopular to succeed, sources quoted in the article say Villaraigosa’s influence and the promise of a beefed-up LAPD helped the measure pass.

NSWMA testifies before U.S. House on unregulated railroad waste facilities

The National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA) has submitted comments before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Railroads, which is examining unregulated waste management facilities on railroad properties. Though the organization says it does not oppose rail transport of solid waste, it would like to see more government oversight.

“When waste is sorted, recyclables separated, and materials shredded, baled and otherwise processed or dumped on the ground and then picked-up and loaded into a container, they are ‘solid waste management facilities’ that are strictly regulated at the state and local level,” said Bruce Parker, president and CEO of NSWMA, in a press release. “These same activities are taking place at railroad facilities, but are unregulated because of claims of exclusive jurisdiction under the federal Surface Transportation Board, which does not have a regulatory program in place.”

“Unregulated waste processing facilities at railroads threaten the public health and the environment,” said Steve Changaris, NSWMA’s Northeast Regional Manager, who has been managing two broad coalitions seeking to regulate railroad waste. “By excluding these railroad facilities from permitting, we undermine the public trust over proper waste management.”

Pennsylvania announces $20 million in recycling grants

On Thursday, Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell announced that the state had issued 116 new grants totaling $20 million to support municipal recycling programs.

“Recycling is a growth industry with many kinds of business opportunities, from waste management to manufacturing to inventing new technologies,” Rendell said in a press release. “These grants give residents greater access to waste reduction and recycling opportunities, helping to ensure a healthy environment and strong economy.”

Pennsylvania’s recycling program, enacted in 1988, mandates recycling in the state’s larger municipalities and requires counties to develop municipal waste management plans. The programs are supported by a $2 tipping fee on each ton of waste deposited in Pennsylvania landfills.

Plastic bag recycling bill passes California State Assembly

Yesterday, the California State Assembly approved a measure requiring grocery stores and supermarkets to provide for the recycling of plastic shopping bags. The bill now faces a vote in the Senate. If enacted, the legislation would require merchants to accept used grocery bags from customers for recycling and to sell reusable shopping bags as an alternative to disposable bags. Plastic bag manufacturers would be required to include print on bags informing customers of the store recycling service and to work with stores and recyclers to ensure proper collection, transportation and recycling of the bags.

Cost to close Fresh Kills, N.Y. landfill dwarfs previous estimates

New York City sanitation commissioner John J. Doherty said yesterday that closing Staten Island’s Fresh Kills landfill could cost more than $1.4. billion over 30 years and require an additional five years of work. According to a New York Times article, the figure is hundreds of millions of dollars greater than previous projections. Doherty revealed the figure during a City Council hearing reviewing Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year.

Former mayor Rudolph Giuliani announced the closing of Fresh Kills in 1996. The final loads received at the site were debris from the World Trade Center after Sept. 11, 2001. Giuliani’s decision to close the landfill was significant, as it had been New York City’s primary waste depository since 1948. In recent years, the site has required considerable construction to address leachate issues and harness methane gas emissions.

U.S. Justice Department to probe prison computer recycling operations

This week, the Inspector General for the U.S. Justice Department announced an investigation into the computer recycling enterprises operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. According to a press release from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), the goal of the investigation is to determine the extent of health hazards to staff and inmates, and why the bureau failed to act on red flags raised by its own safety managers.

The investigation follows the U.S. Office of Special Counsel’s recent validation of claims by whistleblower Leroy Smith, a former safety manager at Atwater Federal Prison, a maximum-security institution near Merced, Calif. Atwater is one of seven federal prisons involved in computer recycling operations under the prison industry authority known as UNICOR. In December 2004, Smith submitted documents raising concerns about exposure to “excessive levels of toxic materials,” in an environment where inmates were required to use hammers to smash computer terminals and were provided only cardboard boxes to protect themselves from contact with hazardous lead, cadmium, barium and beryllium particles.

EPA and Best Buy continue New Orleans e-waste cleanup

In partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Washington, Best Buy, Richfield, Minn., has eliminated 100,000 pounds of damaged electronics from New Orleans. The electronics retailer funded the removal and recycling of computers, monitors and televisions collected and held in Orleans Parish by the Washington-based U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In addition, the company has donated $5 million in computer equipment to New Orleans and Mississippi schools that were damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Best Buy is removing damaged electronics from New Orleans as part of the EPA’s Plug-In to eCycling program, which promotes safe e-waste recycling initiatives.