The National Wildlife Federation (NWF), one of the largest U.S. environmental groups, voted Dean Buntrock onto its board of directors in 1987. Mr. Buntrock is the head of Waste Management, Inc. (WMI), the nation's largest waste hauler and the world's leading practitioner of the art of putting dangerous wastes out of sight by burying them in the ground. Waste Management owns or operates 128 landfills in 36 states, plus others in several foreign countries such as Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Now that Waste Management has acquired a controlling interest in the Wheelabrator incinerator company, the burial of toxic ash in the ground is one of the firm's most promising lines of business, according to Wall Street analysts. For example, in Falls Township, PA, Wheelabrator is pushing forward aggressively with plans to bury 205,000 tons of incinerator ash each year containing 1.2 million pounds of lead, six tons of arsenic, six tons of cadmium, and 25 tons of nickel. During the 20-year lifetime of the Falls incinerator, the total quantity of toxics buried in the ground at this one site will be large indeed, if Mr. Buntrock's firm has its way with Pennsylvania environmental authorities. The proposed toxic ash dump borders the Delaware River.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists Waste Management as a potentially responsible party at 96 Superfund sites--8% of all the Superfund sites in the country. If penalties paid are a good indicator, Mr. Buntrock's firm is the least law abiding waste hauling firm in the U.S., having paid a record $43 million dollars for violations of law in recent years.
National Wildlife Federation has come under some criticism from environmentalists since 1987 for allowing Dean Buntrock to sit on its Board of Directors. In a recent interview (GARBAGE magazine Jan./Feb., 1991, pgs. 54-57), Jay D. Hair, president of the National Wildlife Federation, defended Waste Management's record. According to the interviewer, Mr. Hair said, "There has not been one lawsuit filed against Waste Management that has to do directly with environmental degredation [sic]. All of these are anti-trust kinds of issues." The interviewer, Art Kleiner, went on to say, "Hair says he's made a standing offer to environmental groups: 'If they present me with data to back up claims of environmental abuse or groundwater contamination at any WMI facility, I personally will have the NWF file a lawsuit against Waste Management,'" Mr. Kleiner quotes Mr. Hair as saying. Mr. Kleiner could not locate environmentalists who had heard of Mr. Hair's standing offer, "But now the offer is public," Mr. Steiner said.
Anyone believing they have evidence of environmental abuse or
groundwater contamination by a Waste Management dump or
incinerator should contact: The Waste Management, Inc.,
Encyclopedia Project in the Chicago office of Greenpeace (1017
West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60607; 312/666-3305). As a
public service, Greenpeace will assist all interested parties in
getting relevant information into Mr. Hair's hands, to expedite
the initiation of a lawsuit by the National Wildlife Federation
against Waste Management, Inc.
--Peter Montague, Ph.D.
Descriptor terms: nwf; dean buntrock; wmi; wheelabrator; falls twp; encyclopedia project; greenpeace;