FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ENR (202)

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 1998

METECH INTERNATIONAL SETTLES FEDERAL ALLEGATIONS

IT ILLEGALLY HANDLED HAZARDOUS WASTE

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Precious metals recycling company Metech International today agreed to pay a $300,000 penalty to settle claims it violated a federal hazardous waste handling law at its Burrillville, Rhode Island plant. Metech International, formerly known as Boliden Metech, collects, from its customers, waste materials which contain small amounts of gold, silver, platinum and other precious metals. These materials range from old computers to hazardous waste sludges. Using a variety of processes, Metech extracts and concentrates the precious metals and sends the resulting, partially reclaimed material to smelters, often in Europe. Metech, headquartered in Burrillville, is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Swedish company Trelleborg AB. The settlement was lodged today by the Justice Department in U.S. District Court in Providence, on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency. Under the settlement, Metech International will pay a $300,000 civil penalty and install new equipment to ensure that waste materials are clearly separated from materials still in the precious metal reclamation process. Also, Metech will comply with federal regulations governing short-term hazardous waste storage, and will not ship partially reclaimed materials derived from hazardous waste without complying with federal manifest and export notification requirements. "This creative settlement reflects EPA's commitment to insist on compliance with the law without imposing undue economic burdens on industry," said John P. DeVillars, Administrator of EPA's New England Region, which initiated the case against Metech. "Metech will pay a penalty for its past violations and will be able to continue its precious metal recycling operation legally." "This settlement will ensure that Metech handles hazardous waste properly, and that it pays a significant penalty for its past violations," said Lois Schiffer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. Under federal law, if a material is derived from listed hazardous waste it must be manifested as hazardous waste and, if it is exported, EPA and the government of the receiving country must be notified. In a lawsuit filed with the proposed settlement, the United States alleged that on at least eight occasions in 1993 and 1994, Metech shipped partially reclaimed material derived from listed hazardous waste without the required manifests and notifications. The government also alleged that Metech illegally stored hazardous wastes, including spent acids generated by the company's own processes, for more than ninety days without the requisite permit. The proposed settlement, if approved by the court will settle the federal government's

lawsuit. The proposed settlement will be published in the Federal Register for a 30-day public comment period. ###

98-069