April 17, 2006

Battery recycler takes steps to ensure compliance with hazwaste export regs

The first company to receive a jail sentence under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA) has taken an open, forthright approach to the case. In a recent statement issued following the resolution of federal charges laid last year, The Battery Broker Environmental Services acknowledged responsibility for its former employee's actions and outlined its plans to prevent any recurrence of the circumstances that led to the charges.

The company, its president and its former site manager were charged in February 2005 with violating the CEPA export and import of hazardous waste regulations in connection with two export shipments of hazardous recyclable materials, specifically waste batteries. The former site manager, Jeffrey Dressler, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 60 days in jail (EcoLog Week August 1, 2005).

The Battery Broker's statement notes that although the shipments were sent to an approved U.S. facility for recycling and reclamation of their hazardous materials and metals, they did not have the required authorization and export documentation from the Canadian government. Meeting these requirements was the manager's responsibility and, in shipping the loads with expired export permits, Dressler violated written company policy as well as Canadian law.

The manager compounded the problem by failing to inform the company about his mistake and evading all efforts by the environmental officer investigating the paperwork error to contact him. The Battery Broker maintains that if Dressler had admitted his mistake and reported it to the company president, the situation could have been resolved without any charges being laid.

By the time The Battery Broker found out about the problem and resulting charges, Dressler had resigned; otherwise, he would have been fired, says the statement. Nevertheless, the company has accepted full responsibility for its former employee's actions and in accordance with an agreement with the government, donated $5,000 to the Niagara Peninsula Fund; in turn, the crown withdrew the charges against the firm and its president, Ron Bebee.

In the year or so since the charges were laid, The Battery Broker has been reviewing and upgrading all of its procedures to ensure that this type of situation will not happen again. The statement describes several of the changes that have been, or are being, made.

1. A new Export Log has been created to track each export permit, its associated waste classes and the amount of waste batteries sent for recycling under it.

2. Requests for export permits will be made in the first week of March each year and cover all shipments for one year.

3. Responsibility for shipping waste batteries to the United States is no longer assigned to a single person, but is now a team effort, assuring a series of checks and balances:

a. The site manager is responsible for ensuring that all valid export permits are in place before any shipment is sent to the U.S.

b. The operations manager is responsible for obtaining all required export permits.

c. The president of The Battery Broker will inspect all export paperwork within 48 hours after a shipment leaves the company to ensure that all the proper paperwork was in place and that it was correct.

4. The company is developing an Environmental Management System (EMS) designed to be in full compliance with the ISO 14001 standard, and will apply for certification once the EMS has been in place for the length of time required by the ISO.

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