NEW YORK A bitter dispute between electronics recycler Intercon Solutions Inc. and environmental advocacy group Basel Action Network (BAN) has moved into the courts.
Chicago Heights, Ill.-based Intercon Solutions has filed a lawsuit against BAN and its executive director, James Puckett, seeking damages for alleged defamation.
Intercon has accused BAN and Puckett of defaming the company by making false accusations that Intercon Solutions shipped hazardous waste to China in 2011.
BAN last July accused Intercon of illegally shipping containers of hazardous electronic waste to China. A few weeks later, Intercon said it had obtained shipping documents showing it wasnt the shipper (AMM, Aug. 1).
An inspection report from China Certification & Inspection (Group) Co. Ltd. showed that one of the two containers held mixed metal automotive parts and not hazardous substances (AMM, Aug. 8), Intercon said, but it didnt address details of the one container BAN alleged contained hazardous electronic waste.
A week later, a Hong Kong environmental official confirmed that one container did contain hazardous electronic waste. However, Hong Kongs Environmental Protection Department told AMM it didnt know who shipped the container and would investigate the matter (AMM, Aug. 17). No further details have emerged as a result of the investigation.
The allegations and counter-allegations led to Intercon being barred last year from BANs e-Stewards certification process.
In the lawsuit, filed in Cook County (Ill.) Circuit Court, Intercon alleges that BAN went to the companys location in Chicago Heights last summer "under the pretense of an audit for e-Stewards certification but in reality sought to obtain further information for BANs ongoing surveillance and undercover investigation of Intercon Solutions."
The company alleges that BAN and Puckett knew or should have known that the accusations in BANs evidentiary report "were false because BAN did not have compelling evidence and in fact had no evidence that Intercon Solutions shipped CRT (cathode ray tube) glass and batteries to China."
Intercon claims that BANs allegations have resulted in "lost customers and sustained substantial financial losses" to the company.
As a result of BANs accusations, R2 Solutions delisted Intercon from its directory of recyclers, "which contributed further financial damage and loss of business," Intercon alleges.
"Intercon Solutions has suffered tremendously due to these false accusations," Intercon chief executive officer Brian Brundage said in a statement. "Beyond the financial losses, BAN and Puckett robbed Intercon Solutions of its good name. Through this lawsuit, we intend to get back our good name and recover for the unconscionable damage that BAN and Puckett have inflicted on the Intercon Solutions family."
Puckett told AMM that BAN had not had a chance to review the Intercon lawsuit. "However, we stand by our statements and are very confident in them. It is our mission to prevent international toxic waste dumping while promoting responsible industry leaders. We will not be intimidated by blustery denials or efforts to silence the messenger. This is our job as an environmental non-profit public interest organization and we will defend our right to do it vigorously," he said.