Lawsuit claims prison recycling 'poisoned' participants
In 1994, Federal Prison Industries, trade-named UNICOR, started a computer and electronics recycling program in Marianna. Inmates break down and retrieve salvageable computer parts. According to UNICOR’s Web site, the products are sold to public and private industries to “save precious resources.”
Twenty-six plaintiffs are currently in a federal lawsuit against the prison, claiming its computer recycling program is toxic and hazardous to workers’ health.
If recycled without proper safety measurements, electronic equipment can release a toxic dust containing dangerous substances such as lead, cadmium, mercury and arsenic, according to government reports and surveys by Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition (SVTC), a California-based research organization that studies the environmental impacts of the technology industry.