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E-Garbage Seized by Chinese

Asia: Tons of junked computer parts indicate a dangerous trade is thriving despite action.

September 19, 2002|From Associated Press

BEIJING — Chinese customs officials seized 450 tons of junked computer parts and other electronic waste shipped illegally from the United States, an official said Wednesday.

The disclosure added to evidence that China's trade in imported computer waste meant for recycling is thriving despite a crackdown launched in May after reports of health dangers from unsafe handling.

The 22 shipping containers full of electronic garbage were seized this month in the port of Wenzhou in eastern China, a customs official there said.

The waste included computer monitors, keyboards, photocopy machines and television sets, said the official, who would give only his surname, Lin.

He would not identify the companies involved or the U.S. port where the ship originated. He said the case was under investigation.

Small Chinese companies, many of them in the southeast near Hong Kong, tear apart derelict computers and other electronic items to recover gold and other materials. Most workers have no protection from the toxic fumes released when parts are melted down.

China launched its crackdown after environmentalists early this year called attention to health problems in the town of Guiyu, a recycling center near Hong Kong.

Guiyu residents told a reporter who visited the town that children there suffered medical problems including breathing ailments and that there had been a surge in leukemia cases.

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