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Revealed - UK Toxic Wastes Traced in Nigeria.

Published on Wednesday 18th February 2009

Potentially dangerous toxic wastes from the United Kingdom (UK) have been traced to Alaba International Market and Apapa, all in Lagos state.

The wastes, according to Sky News investigation, comprise abandoned TV set, computer and electrical appliances, which are ordinarily meant to be recycled

The report said the wastes "are traced to Lagos port inside the container. We finally managed to track the television down to a shipping container."

At Alaba Market, the report added that youngsters aged between 15 and 20 were seen scavenging for the valuable copper contained in the appliances.

It stated: "Because of the toxic nature of some of the components, the appliances should be recycled under strict conditions here in the United Kingdom."

Commenting on the development, a UK-based non-governmental organisation, Greenpeace, confirmed that the young people working on such dumps often break apart the electronic items for parts, but in doing so are exposed to poisonous chemicals like mercury, lead and cadmium.

"We basically managed to track a TV going from the UK allegedly as second-hand equipment to Nigeria. When in fact we knew, because we gutted it, this TV, before it left the UK, we took all the insides out and put in a tracker device, which enabled us to track this old TV from the UK, through the recycler to Nigeria.

"Tonnes of toxic waste from municipal dumps in the West are being dumped illegally in countries like Nigeria and Ghana. Hundreds of thousands of broken items like TVs and computers are being sold to dealers on the pretext of re-use. Under EU law, such household appliances must be dismantled or recycled," the charity group stated.

But Sky News reported that after being informed that e-waste collected by Hampshire County Council is being sent to West Africa, it teamed up with Greenpeace to investigate the claim.

According to Sky News : "Our team found an old television, noted its barcode and product number and, with the help of a qualified engineer, removed a vital working part, rendering it useless. We then inserted a satellite tracker into the television before taking it to the council's recycling centre.

"The idea was to follow every step of the TV's journey across the world via the internet before pinpointing the exact coordinates of its final destination. Filming undercover, we dropped our television off at a recycling site in Basingstoke which is managed for Hampshire County Council by a firm called Hopkins.

"They in turn sell appliances to a company called BJ Electronics. BJ bought our old television. We then followed the television to the BJ Electronics warehouse in Walthamstow, where BJ claim they test every appliance before selling them on to other companies for export.

"Our tracker showed our broken television was eventually loaded onto a shipping container at BJ's warehouse then taken to Tilbury where it was exported," the report said.

Greenpeace Campaigner, Mr. Erik Albertson, told Sky News Online: "What you see around us could be the remains of one of your old computers or a TV set. The problem with things like this is every now and then, a couple of times a week, they set them on fire and the contents of the chemicals will cause dioxins to escape.

"Dioxins are well known as one of the toxic substances on earth. They're both carcinogenic and cause endocrine disruption." Back in the UK, we told Hampshire County Council, Hopkins and BJ Electronics of our findings.

Hopkins refused to comment. BJ said they had done nothing wrong and were adamant they comply with all the necessary tests. Hampshire Council issued the following statement: "We are extremely disappointed to learn of the potential findings of the investigation.

Hampshire Council issued the following statement: "We are extremely disappointed to learn of the potential findings of the investigation.

"Our primary aim has always been to ensure that waste electrical items are reused wherever possible, and that only functional TVs and monitors are sent abroad. We do not condone the exportation of televisions that cannot be reused.

"If, after our inquiry, it is found that our clear requirements are being compromised by inadequate controls... we will take immediate action and we will publish our findings," the Council stated.

As Hampshire County Council carries out its own inquiry, Greenpeace has called on manufacturers of electronic goods to ensure they put in place take back schemes, so that the unwanted appliances are disposed of responsibly, instead of being dumped on poorer countries.

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