GreenYes Digest V98 #13

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GreenYes Digest Sun, 18 Jan 98 Volume 98 : Issue 13

Today's Topics:
'PRODUCT OR WASTE' or Too Much of a Good Thing for Industries
Big Three Auto Makers
GreenYes Digest V98 #12
Is this too good to be true?

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Loop-Detect: GreenYes:98/13

Date: Sat, 17 Jan 1998 16:14:56 -0600 From: Susan Snow <> Subject: 'PRODUCT OR WASTE' or Too Much of a Good Thing for Industries

The following comes entirely from the Seattle Times article by Duff Wilson. Mr. Wilson has done a series of articles on fertilizers.=20 Search the Seattle Times website for <fertilizer> at Is this too much of a good thing for a number of so-called recycling or composting industries? S.K.S. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- ------------------------------------------------------------------

Copyright =A9 1997 The Seattle Times Company=20

Local News : Sunday, Nov. 23, 1997=20

Product or waste?=20 by Duff Wilson=20 Seattle Times staff reporter

=20 Copyright 1997, Seattle Times Co.=20

Millions of discarded tires from the East Coast ended up in fertilizer sold in the West and three foreign nations, in =20 violation of federal hazardous-waste laws.=20

A black, toxic ash from a Connecticut tire-burning plant was the key ingredient in thousands of tons of fertilizer =20 sold by a small Washington state company over the past three years.=20

Even in the loosely regulated fertilizer industry - where industrial wastes are routinely and legally repackaged as =20 an aid to crops - regulators say the practice by Bay Zinc Co. crossed the line.=20

As in other cases across the country where toxic wastes have been turned into fertilizer, this was driven by money: a way for the waste producer to save on disposal costs, and a way for the fertilizer producer to save on raw materials.=20

Bay Zinc, of Moxee, Yakima County, made plant food from more than 12,000 tons of tire ash it received from Exeter Energy Co. of Sterling, Conn., between April 1994 and this August.=20

Officials in Washington and Connecticut only recently learned about the operation, which they say violated regulations on the testing, disclosure, handling and storage of hazardous wastes.=20

The Washington Department of Ecology has ordered Bay Zinc to stop taking the tire ash and to dump 188 tons of unsold fertilizer into a hazardous-waste landfill by Dec. 24.=20

"We should have known about this," said Brian Dick of the Ecology Department. "They should have told us sooner. I think some people have grabbed on to a little bit of gray in the regulations."=20

On the other end of the pipeline, the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection has ordered Exeter Energy to stop sending the ash to Bay Zinc and to put it instead into a hazardous-waste landfill. Officials there say they would have cracked down a lot sooner had they realized Bay Zinc was turning the waste into fertilizer.=20

Exeter Energy operates the largest tire-to-energy plant in the world, with a 3,000-degree oven consuming 10 million tires a year and leaving about 5 percent of their weight behind as a residue containing zinc, lead and cadmium. The ash is collected from particulate matter in a pollution-control device that works like a huge vacuum bag and is called a baghouse. The ash is called fly ash or baghouse dust.=20

For the past three years, the company shipped that ash thousands of miles across country by truck and rail to Bay Zinc's plant in Central Washington. If the ash had been collected in one place, it would have made a pile 13 feet high and the size of a football field. And there would have been 100 tons of highly toxic lead in the pile.=20

Bay Zinc mixed the ash with sulfuric acid and water to produce fertilizer granules sold to distributors who mixed it in blended products for farmers, nurseries and home gardeners. The buyers were not told the fertilizer was made from recycled waste.=20

The granules are 20 percent zinc, which is commonly used in plant food. But lead and cadmium, heavy metals of no benefit to plants or animals, are also included. They weren't listed on the label or tested by regulators in any of the 10 states in which the product was sold.=20

The cadmium and lead come from steel belts in tires. The zinc had been added to the tires in the manufacturing process as a binding agent.=20

In a contract between Exeter Energy and Bay Zinc, the fertilizer company took all responsibility for following environmental laws. But as the waste generator, Exeter Energy was legally responsible for reporting the hazardous waste.=20

"Two parties by a contract can't void out a federal law," said Ross Bunnell, enforcement engineer with the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection.=20

At the same time, Bunnell said, Bay Zinc "really ought to know the rules better than a tire-burning plant." Bay Zinc has worked with hazardous-waste laws since they were adopted by Congress in 1976 and holds a hazardous-waste permit.=20

Bunnell said Connecticut may act with "extreme gravity" against Exeter Energy.=20

Washington officials are taking a visibly softer approach toward Bay Zinc. The Department of Ecology and the company have worked together for years to encourage recycling of industrial wastes into fertilizer.=20

The federal Environmental Protection Agency could step in if EPA decided Connecticut or Washington authorities weren't responding properly. So far EPA hasn't acted, but Bunnell said high-level EPA officials are watching the case.=20

Richard Camp Jr., president of Bay Zinc, said he thought the ash was exempt from hazardous-waste regulations because it was a product, not a waste.=20

Camp also points out that the fertilizer produced from tire ash is lower in lead and cadmium than another product he sells that is exempt from regulation. That fertilizer, called "Blu-Min Zinc," is made from even more hazardous dust from pollution-control devices at two steel mills in the Portland area.=20

The EPA, under pressure from the steel industry, gave steel mills a special exemption in 1988, and dust from the mills is not subject to toxicity tests. But tire ash is. Since it starts out cleaner than steel-mill dust, Bay Zinc uses the difference between its own products as a selling point: The tire-ash fertilizer is called "Blu-Min Zinc LHM." The "LHM" means low heavy metals.=20

"As you can see, there are a lot of ironies in this world of fertilizer," said Dick of the Ecology Department.=20

Camp insisted the tire ash makes a safe product.=20

"The stuff is too good, it's too valuable to up and throw it away," he said. "I think we'll work this out, within the framework of the law."=20

The Seattle Times in July exposed the growing national practice of recycling industrial wastes - many containing toxicants, dioxin and even radioactive material - into agricultural fertilizers. Before The Times' series, few farmers were aware of the practice.=20

The potential dangers of using wastes in fertilizer are now under study and debate across the country. Some people, such as Camp, say it's good recycling with no harm. Other people say it hasn't been proven safe and regulators should err on the side of safety.=20

There are no standards for toxic materials in fertilizer in the United States, although many states - including Washington - are considering imposing limits and labeling requirements.=20

There are already limits for materials classified by the federal government as "hazardous wastes." Those standards are not specific to fertilizers, but apply generally to disposing of hazardous wastes on the ground. The limits are based on a leaching test for landfills.=20

Many hazardous-waste fertilizers have slipped through the cracks, with producers claiming they were products, not wastes.=20

EPA Assistant Administrator Timothy Fields recently clarified that many of the toxic byproducts used in fertilizers are in fact hazardous wastes, and always have been.=20

Some industries get rid of their metal-laced ash in a purer recycling process. They send it to recyclers who separate the lead and cadmium from the zinc, sending the toxicants to metal smelters and selling the zinc separately as pure fertilizer or animal feed.=20

But not Bay Zinc.=20

"They don't remove lead or cadmium," said Dick, of the Ecology Department. "All the stuff that's there goes through."=20

Bay Zinc sold some of its tire-ash fertilizer this fall even as the state was trying to work out a plan to deal with it legally. Dick said some of the product no doubt failed toxicity tests for land disposal, and fertilizer blends made from it were probably illegal, too.=20

"I was very disappointed," he said. "Ecology in no way approved of that sale."=20

The state has asked Bay Zinc to hold on to records of everyone who bought the fertilizer.=20

This graph moved here from elsewhere in story Bay Zinc sells its products in 10 states - California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming - and in Canada, Mexico and Australia.=20

Camp said he'd like to resume tire-ash shipments from Exeter as soon as possible. But Exeter Energy manager Ken Wycherley said he wants to hire someone to make fertilizer, removing more of the toxic elements, at the site of the tire-burning plant. And Washington officials said Camp hasn't proved he can make a legal product.=20

Stephen Artus, general manager of the nation's second-largest tire-burning plant, Modesto Energy in Modesto, Calif., said he has always reported his tire ash as a hazardous waste and recycled it in a process that removes the heavy metals.=20

That costs the company $181 per ton of ash - far more than the $73 a ton Exeter Energy was paying to dispose of toxic ash as fertilizer.=20

The difference adds up to hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.=20

"I have no idea how they could do it that way," Artus said. "It was clear to us that it had to be manifested (labeled and reported) as a hazardous waste."=20

Exeter Energy's tire ash and Bay Zinc's fertilizer both failed tests for cadmium, which can be readily absorbed by plants and concentrates in leaves, grain and fleshy fruits.=20

Scientists don't know how much cadmium is safe for human exposure. Some say it's OK as long as there is enough zinc to counteract the cadmium in plant or animal tissue.=20

Others say cadmium is even more pernicious than lead or mercury, accumulating in the body and subtly toxic to virtually every system.=20

Cadmium builds up in the kidney. At high enough doses, it can cause lung damage, hypertension and heart ailments, kidney disease, chronic-fatigue syndrome, Alzheimer's disease, reproductive problems and cancer.=20

The Food and Drug Administration says cadmium in our diet has held level over the past 20 years. "It's found a little more frequently in terms of the number of foods," Dr. Mike Bolger of the FDA said.=20

Canada, Australia and some European nations, unlike the United States, have imposed limits on cadmium in fertilizer.=20

The tire ash also failed tests for lead content. The fertilizer failed one test for lead and passed another, and Bay Zinc was allowed to take the passing grade.=20

At high enough levels, lead exposure can cause cancer, birth defects, and a range of damaging effects to the central nervous system, especially in children.=20

Camp argues that the cadmium and lead in his products pose no danger because the fertilizer is spread so thin on cropland. He said he's doing a public service.=20

"We make a big deal of recycling newspapers and beer cans, but when it gets into real serious recycling, people get worried because it has a little bit of this and a little bit of that," Camp said earlier this year.=20

Home fertilizers affected=20

Bay Zinc has been under increasing pressure since The Times' July articles. One major fertilizer retailer, Cenex Supply and Marketing, after checking its own records, said it hadn't realized it was buying recycled hazardous wastes from Bay Zinc. Another, IMC Global, is pressing Bay Zinc and other waste recyclers to disclose more details about their toxicity test results.=20

Bay Zinc's products are typically mixed with the more common plant foods nitrogen, phosphorous or potassium in custom blends sold to farmers by the truckload and to homeowners by the bag.=20

Some of the recycled tire ash may be included in retail fertilizer at hardware stores. If a fertilizer has black zinc granules, it likely contains Bay Zinc's product.=20

Most experts say fertilizer distributors can save a little money with lower-cost products such as Bay Zinc's in their custom blends, but the final customers, such as farmers, pay the same as they do for purer zinc, which is white.=20

Farmers Michael Rogers in Grays Harbor County and Wade Sikorski in Billings, Mont., say they should have been told where it came from.=20

"I'm shocked that this process has been going on as long as it has, and that there is little or no concern by our elected officials," Rogers said.=20

Some people are also concerned about lead or cadmium entering their bodies through breathing the fertilizer dust.=20

"We always assumed that fertilizer was safe to handle, but now we know better," Sikorski said.=20

Bay Zinc owner holds influential positions Richard Camp is a leader in recycling hazardous wastes into fertilizer. He inherited the business from his father, who founded Bay Chemical Co. in Tacoma in 1961.=20

Camp is also an influential member of state and national task forces on the practice of recycling wastes into fertilizer. In recent months, he has crisscrossed the country in defense of the practice.=20

Earlier this month, Camp attended an unpublicized, closed-door meeting of state fertilizer regulators to argue against tougher standards or labeling of toxic elements in fertilizer. Camp also volunteered to write The Fertilizer Institute's position paper on lead, and serves on Gov. Gary Locke's task force on fertilizer toxicants.=20

Camp has some strong supporters in the Department of Ecology in Yakima. His regular inspector, Dick Granberg, says Camp has never had a major violation. Dennis Bowhay, an expert in hazardous-waste recycling, said: "Bay Zinc has been trying to develop a low-lead product for years. Just doing it on his own. My impression of Dick is he has always been pretty far-thinking, looking ahead, seeing the handwriting on the wall."=20

Bay Zinc and Exeter Energy both made good money from their arrangement.=20

Bay Zinc bought the tire ash for about $32 per ton, and Exeter Energy paid $105 per ton for cross-country transportation, to end up with the net cost of $73 per ton -cheaper than other disposal options.=20

Bay Zinc sold the fertilizer for $253 per ton by the truckload. The material, with 20 percent zinc and 9 percent sulfur as plant foods, is at least 20 percent cheaper than competing zinc fertilizers.=20

Bay Zinc's competitors say the corner-cutting on hazardous wastes puts them at a disadvantage.=20

"We need truth-in-labeling of fertilizers," said Al Davis, executive vice president of American MicroTrace Corp. in Fairbury, Neb.=20

"It's disheartening," said Kipp Smallwood, vice president for sales at CoZinCo Inc. in Denver, Colo. "We are paying good money for clean, raw materials for zinc andthen doing everything we can to make it cleaner, and we find out that other people are allowed to put hazardous wastes out there."

Duff Wilson's phone message number is 206-464-2288. His e-mail address is:

Seattle Times' Fear in the Fields series


Date: Sat, 17 Jan 1998 07:05:51 -0800 (PST) From: Joel Makower <> Subject: Big Three Auto Makers

In response to Peter Anderson's question about survey data demonstrating Americans' increased environmental concern, I have attached a story from the January 1998 issue of my newsletter, The Green Business Letter:


************************************************************************* Reprinted from The Green Business Letter, January 1998. Copyright =A91998 Tilden Press Inc. All rights reserved. May not be redistributed without permission. *************************************************************************

MARKETPLACE GETTING GREENER, SAYS 'GREEN GAUGE' The recently released 1997 "Green Gauge" from Roper Starch offers the usually insightful peek into the world of consumer attitudes on the environment.

This year's also offers reason for optimism for those seeking to attract or retain eco-conscious consumers: concern and action are both up from recent years. After what Roper Starch viewed as a mild backlash against environmental topics during the mid-1990s, it now reports that the backlash "may be fading. The environment is reestablishing itself on the national agenda." That observation was underscored by several key findings:

* Concern over air pollution is at an all-time high since the Roper studies began in 1989. Majorities of Americans cite auto exhaust as the most serious cause of air emissions, both nationally and in their own community.

* The public is more likely than last year to regularly take part in environmental behaviors, especially recycling cans, bottles, containers, and newspapers. Most interesting, says Roper Starch, is that the increases are "driven largely by the segments of American society which have traditionally been less willing to incorporate environmentalism into their lives."

* Consumers are willing to pay the largest premium for greener goods since before the recession. Though the premiums they're willing to pay fall short of pre-recession levels, "it is telling that the public are more willing to practice environmentalism through their purchase decisions," says Roper Starch.

* Four in five Americans believe environmental cause-related marketing is acceptable, a whopping nine-point increase since just last year. This, says Roper Starch, "indicates the public clearly values the efforts which companies make on behalf of the environment."

It concludes: "The environment may still take a back seat to issues such as crime, drug abuse, and education on the national agenda, but this latest increase in concern indicates that public sentiment . . . may be growing once again."

For more information, contact: Rachel Watstein, Roper Starch Worldwide, 205 E. 42nd St., New York, NY 10017; 212-455-4903; 212-867-7008 (fax).

----------------------- ENVIRONMENT VS. ECONOMY What Americans Think

* Protect environment even at the expense of economic growth 1997: 13% Change since 1996: +2

* Try to have a balance, but the environment is more important 1997: 57% Change since 1996: +8

* Try to have a balance, but economic growth is more important 1997: 25% Change since 1996: -3

* Promote economic growth even at the expense of the environment 1997: 2% Change since 1996: -3

Source: "1997 Green Gauge Report," a publication of Roper Starch Worldwide

************************* Joel Makower, Editor The Green Business Letter 1519 Connecticut Ave. NW Washington, DC 20036 202-332-1700 (tel) 202-332-3028 (fax) *************************


Date: Sat, 17 Jan 1998 10:32:10 EST From: Lmking96 <> Subject: GreenYes Digest V98 #12

RE: Big Three Auto Makers FROM: Lance King

Reports that the Big Three Auto Makers intend to produce "green car" for the mass market sometime after the trun of the century appeared on the front= pages of the New York Times, LA Times and Wall Street Journal on the same day last week. The driving force motivating them according to these stories is the Japanese intention to begin selling a hybrid vehicle in the US within the= next couple of years that achieves very high levels of fuel efficiency.

The Japanese auto maker made its announcement recently, upstaging the Big Three who reportedly spend 250 million per year on development of green= cars. Unlike the Big Three, the newspapers reported, the Japanese auto maker is prepared to sell its vehicle in the US for 16,000 to 18,000 dollars per vehicle, which means that they will lose at 16,000 per vehicle sold= initially.

Slate magazine's daily news summary raised the question of whether the Big Three auto makers could or would be willing to sustain such deep loses, particularly given legal limitations on publicly traded companies.

In addition to pressure from the Japanese, newspaper reports across the country have focused on the gas-guzzling sports utility vehicles= proliferating in the US as a growing problem, casting the commitment of the Big Three to fuel efficient vehicles in a different light.


Date: Fri, 16 Jan 1998 17:21:14 -0600 From: Susan Snow <> Subject: Is this too good to be true?

Is this too good to be true?

"U.S. to Suspend Road Building in Many National Forest Areas." =20 New York Times, 10 January 98, A1. "Millions of National =20 Forest Acres Due Protection Under New Plan." Washington Times, 11 January 98, A4.=20

The Clinton Administration is suspending all logging road construction in remote areas of the national forest system.=20 The move would end logging in the nation's most remote areas. Some environmentalists think the move does not go far enough. But Vice President Al Gore has been promoting the idea within the Clinton Administration. According to one official, "`The Vice President is the one who has been pushing this. He feels strongly that after a century of=20 Federal forest management, it is time to give stronger weight to forest values like clean water, recreation and wildlife.'" ##


Date: Sat, 17 Jan 1998 15:02:41 +0000 From: Charles La Rue <> Subject: subscribe




End of GreenYes Digest V98 #13 ******************************