American prisoners are working today in unsafe electronics recycling plants at seven federal prisons -- outside of the watchful eye of workplace safety regulators.
Prisoners have reported breaking computer CRT monitors with hammers -- releasing toxic chemicals into the air. Others have been denied proper training and safety equipment before they handle electronics full of mercury, lead and other harmful chemicals. Disposal practices are less than ideal.
A former Florida prison staffer has sued the federal prison system after she experienced hair loss, sores, migraines and other conditions that she believes comes from her work near the harmful chemicals from e-waste recycling.
Take action below to call on the federal prison system to end its e-waste programs in order to ensure the safety of staff and prisoners.
I am deeply concerned that electronics recycling operations under the management of the Bureau of Prisons and Federal Correctional Industries are failing to meet even minimum safety standards and exposing prisoners, staff and surrounding communities to dangerous chemicals including lead, mercury, cadmium, beryllium. Until these serious issues can be addressed, I urge you to suspend operations at the e-waste recycling facilities at USP Leavenworth, USP Lewisburg, USP Atwater, FCI Marianna, FCI Fort Dix, FCI Tuscon and FCI Texarkana.
I support job training for prisoners -- especially in emerging green industries. If the UNICOR e-waste facilities followed industry-leading safety and training standards, they could offer positive job-training opportunities for prisoners and provide an important service to the American public. Instead, the federal prison system has resisted inspections and failed to meet even minimum safety standards -- taking advantage of prisoner labor and unsafe conditions to recycle e-waste at below-market prices, and at a loss.
These dangerous and counterproductive practices must end. For the safety of prisoners, prison staff and the surrounding communities, please suspend e-waste recycling until you can ensure that the facilities meet the EPA's Responsible Recycling Practices -http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/ecycling/r2practices.htm.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.