Mar 24, 2014

America Needs a Bunker to Store Its Mountain of Toxic TVs | via @Wired

WIRED: The mountain of broken down televisions and computer screens caught fire at around 11 o'clock in the morning, sending a thick plume of grey smoke over the tiny Utah town of Parowan. Soon, about ten fire trucks from neighboring towns Paragonah and Brian joined local firefighters on the scene, and authorities shut down an entire mile of Interstate 15.

The firefighters extinguished the blaze within a few hours, but the larger danger remains. The March 2 fire was just one symptom of enormous problem that's spreading across the country. As we move to flat screen TVs and computer displays, we're discarding our big, bulky old school televisions and CRT monitors, and they're piling up in warehouses like the one that caught fire in Parowan, with nowhere to go. These discarded screens aren't just a fire hazard. They're filled with lead and other toxic materials.

In California alone, more than 100 million pounds of leaded CRT monitors glass is recovered each year, according to CalRecycle, the state's recycling agency...Environmentalists say there's no obvious solution to the problem, but that means it's time for the government to step in. At the very least, we need a place where this growing pile of glass and lead can be cleaned and stored until we know what to do with it. We need a Yucca Mountain for all our CRTs.

Billions of Pounds of Leaded Glass

If you've ever hauled one of the bulky monitors that were universal before the advent of flat panel displays, you'll know that they are remarkably heavy. That's because, behind the screen, there's a big funnel of heavy leaded glass designed to be sturdy and to protect consumers from radiation leakage. The glass is recyclable, and for awhile, U.S. recyclers were able to ship it off for reuse in other countries.

But today, there are only a handful of places that will accept this leaded glass....

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