Friday, September 28, 2007

some corrections.

There are some false assumptions going around. (some of them activley encouraged)

1: The dtsc did not order us to dispose/destroy everything within a year.

This is demonstrably untrue as can be determined by anyone reading the report. (jpg's of the report can be found down the page) Not only does the dtsc demand destruction/disposal they required that we provide a plan for such within 30 days of the receipt of this violation determination.)

This is a quote from the dtsc finding. "
Compliance Action: ACCRC shall develop an inventory for all items set aside for possible use by Aftermath Technologies and for donation/development of a museum, etc. The inventory shall be submitted to Asha Arora C/o DTSC, 700 Heinz Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94710 within 30 days of receipt of this report. In addition, ACCRC shall ensure that those universal wastes are not accumulated onsite for longer than one year."

Now I submit that this is indeed a destruct order. No amount of rovian parsing will change that. In addition as the fines for non-compliance exceeded our assests on hand it was a "do this or die" situation.

So as it stands now, the state still impairs re-use and encourages destruction. (we will end up with additional paperwork and handling requirements while destruction is funded by a consumer funded subsidy) but is no longer threatening to close us down for reuse. (the term "threat" may be incorrect I do not believe that this was malicious or even intentional but the effect is the same)

So rather than run off and say that all is well. The thruth is that all is not well, The laws involving electronic waste in california are at best of dubious environmental and social value and those that try to follow a higher path are penalised.

So the state is now merely impairing re-use no longer effectivly banning it. While this is an improvement it is not a "solution".

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

developments (good news)

I'm trying to figure out how to phrase this without putting anyone into a corner.

Once again we have a situation where ACCRC does not fit within the standard profile inherent in the system.

The DTSC is aware of the problems presented in the violation notice and is working with us to find a viable solution. It appears that all parties agree that the destruction of usable/historic material is not in the public's best interest and the system should adapt.

This is a two party process and the ACCRC will have to make some adjustments.

Notably we have to be able to explain to a novice what we are keeping it for. (reasonable)
Just because its cool/old doesn't mean it is not a potential problem and the same handling proceedures for dealing with the material we dispose of would apply to the handling and storage of this material. As such some of our volunteers will need more rigorous training if they wish to work on material without a qualified staff member present (also reasonable and I submit already in place).

We also need to demonstrate that we have a method for disposal of material even when we have given up on it. It appears that our methods for disposal of non-recoverable material will suffice.

So in a nutshell it has gone from what we perceived as a "do this or else" to a mutual understanding and attempt to find a workable solution.

We very much appreciate this position on the part of the DTSC and thank them for demonstrating a refreshing level of flexibility in this matter.

We fully expect to work this out in time.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

some clarifications.

the fed epa is not the problem. dtsc is part of a state agency the cal-epa.

to my knowledge we have no issues on either side with fed epa. In fact they gave me an award last year.

While I am a great fan of free speech and such you should at least target correctly.

Please quit telling the wrong people to @#$% themselves. For that matter the phrase lacks creativity and at this point even I think its overboard.

I very much appreciate the sentiment but even I have toned my stuff down a bit. I even.. edited. (you really have no idea how difficult that was.)

I have also been told yet again not to play with the trolls. but we seem to have one out there in the wild. I'm getting bored with his points so I shall address them here.

The comparative volume of what the dtsc is upset about is approx 5% of the total mass in the building at any given time and represents a much smaller volume over time as we move an awful lot of stuff we cannot (yet) recover. For example I regret to inform you all that I have no good use for your grandmothers old console tv (mount a mythtv box in it?) and we see an awful lot of them. These leave almost immediately to a another company as do the monitors we do not use. (things we don't place or think we might use leave in less than a week and are (last I checked)in dtsc compliance.) This also applies to the electronics as I have no interest in holding on to a dead vcr for any length of time.

Nor does the complaint in any way point to any containment or release issues. (sealed concrete floor, locked building an over abundance of fire extinguishers in a fully sprinklered building) we have passed all safety and fire inspections. While flooding has occurred in the area in the past it has never resulted in a release and frankly it would now have to be biblical in proportion to be an issue as the first (last and only) one was quite educational.

Again the dtsc has an issue about the stuff we think might be recoverable/valuable/historic nothing else. If they impose a fine it could quite possibly kill us. The threat to impose a fine is in the text and is not a point of argument. Running out of funds would close us down. (this threat has been reduced, Thank you for the support, We are working on the donation receipts)

Nor does this have anything to do with corporate take back campaigns (if you don't like them you have no idea of the cold loathing I have for them as I consider them to be planned obsolescence)

as for reading things that are not in the text. We have no environmental complaints no complaints from our neighbors (other than maybe my behaviour toward neighbors with property line issues) no safety issues and the dtsc is not complaining about anything except the stuff we want to keep and the overstressed, brain damaged, periodic jackass who runs the place. (and admittedly the second part was due to a bipolar moment on the jackasses part. While the opinions still stand the expression was of dubious value.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


First WOW!! thank you all for your support and assistance.

Meeting with a higher level rep from the dtsc on the 25th.

In addition I have reason to believe that what we call diversion paperwork (diverted from the waste stream) exceeds what they require as "inventory". We track weights and dates on all material going into and out our of re-use departments. and can demonstrate a past history of doing so going back years. The dtsc agent did not bother to ask what sort of tracking system we might actually have before running off with a false assumption and slamming us with a class 1 violation.

If my assumptions are correct than all we have left is the "speculative acumilation" nightmare.

Speculative acumilation:

two examples of where this is actually a good thing and then how it does not apply in this case

In general this is to keep people from taking waste, collecting it into big poisonous piles and then walking off leaving the public to deal with the problem.

More specific example. When sb-20/50 came into play there was a legitimate concern about people collecting material with the expectation that the state would eventually pay for its destruction. This was a legitimate problem and as many vendors have huge material streams and if allowed to stockpile and then bill the state, would have bankrupted the new system.

I have no problem with either of the above examples.

How this is misapplied in this case.

there is a minimum value on everything that we set aside and a simple phone call could turn the whole damn collection into cash. This is at worst case bulk electronics and valued at 3-5 cents a pound but in most cases much higher value. So no big pile of nasty for the dtsc to have to deal with. (although if I were to take this option collectors would probaly curse my name for generations)

In the second example above, We are actually taking material out of the state payment system and as such saving the state money so I cannot determine how this determination is in the states best interest.

So no clean up and no state payments on this material. Whats the problem?

In fact since our various re-use projects are things that we fit in around paying the bills I cannot recall a single project that did not take at least a year. For example the beowulf cluster development is at least 10 years old. The electric vehicle project (dead van,dead electric forklift,a ups as the charging system, a buttload of ups batteries,motor controllers from old industrial milling equipment,) is over two years old and expected to roll sometime next year.

In additiion our hydrogen vehicle program (we are quite probably the only people on earth who have gotten a 1969 lincoln continental to run on hydrogen) requires huge amounts of metal hydride as a fuel storage medium. We have two options to aquire this. buy it (very expensive) or recover it from metal hydride batteries. Based on current flow will take another year before we have enough storage to be comparable to a standard gas tank. So a 460cid internal combustion engine thats cleaner than a prius (The exhaust is water) and all the information on how we did it provided to the public for free is not in the publics best interest?

And if we fail the information is still valuable and the failure would be disposed of in the proper manner so again why do we need to abandon this project after a year?

So is free commodity supercomputing and completely repurposed zero emission vehicles something that the dtsc wants to discourage? How does the state profit from this? Do I throw them away?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Very thin skins.

I was woken up by a call from the dtsc today. During the course of the conversation I expressed my concerns and thought that we were actually getting somewhere.

I was told that a conference call would be put together sometime between 8:30 -9:30

When the call did not come in I called the dtsc back and was informed that the conference had been cancelled due to offensive statements on this blog and that this had come down from "the executive" office.

Not calling to tell someone that you had cancelled the conference is a cowardly and creepy act.

Using unpleasant opinions as an excuse to avoid a problem is also a cowardly act.

For the record I stand behind the personal opinions expressed in this blog and will continue to express them.

Apparently the dtsc is unaware that the internet in general and blogs in particular tend to have rather rough opinions.

So instead I have been told that I can try to get an extension but I have no assurances or expectation of actually getting one. otherwise we are in violation and subject to fines as of the 17th of this month as the minimum fine is more than our total assets we may close as early as monday.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

what you can do.

I was told that I really should give some action points for those who want to help.

unfortunately I'm not all that used to asking for or accepting help so this may seem a little disjointed. I'm also not all that well educated so this may not come across as intended.

I'm also very,very pissed off.

you can

express yourself:

Arora, Asha
(510) 540-3874

I submit that she's clueless and probably offended by language so be polite and use simple concepts and single syllable words.

Contact your state and federal reps and ask them to look int0 this.

The legal defense fund. (look a shiny new paypal button!)
The penalty for this violation is not less than 2000 dollars and not more than 25000. As of this morning accrc's total assets equal less than $500 dollars so whatever the fine is we are screwed.
We also do not know if they can hand us this fine over and over again so we expect to be fined out of existence. In addition as our funding from the state is dependent on our dtsc compliance we may find ourselves without any funding source at all

In addition our legal rep is a volunteer and will need to go back to being gainfully employed so if this doesn't blow over soon, so we will need to fund our defense.

Up until now we took great pride in being a self funded charity (we earn the money to cover our operations spending what conventional thinkers would call the profits on the charitable placements) and did not ask for cash. But no amount of penny pinching will take on a deranged state agency.

We may have to picket and or other (LEGAL!!!!) actions so if you are willing to participate in meatspace we could use you. ( zombie pickets maybe?)

If you have ideas,contacts,comments etc. Comments are open and we are very much hoping that others have better ideas than we do.

Thank you:

James Burgett
Executive director. ACCRC.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Mind numbing government stupidity

It looks like accrc has finally found an obstacle it cannot overcome. Government stupidity.

We have been told by the department of toxic substances control that we will have to inventory all material that we divert and we are not allowed to stockpile any material for more than one year under any circumstances. This would preclude any support for Makefaire,the shipyard,the tech museum,the exploratorium,vintage tech,the computer history museum etc In addition we cannot find any reason for this that would not also apply to the computers we place so we expect to be told by the state that we are in voilation of state law in regards to the distribution of toxic waste in the form of free working computers.

Please note that if I destroy this material I have none of these restrictions. So thanks to the state re-use has more hassles,hurdles,and paperwork than destruction. So not only does the system only pay for destruction it now is actually impairing re-use.

I frankly need help.

I have supported the maker/tech community wholeheartedly and have rarely if ever asked for anything in return. Today I am calling in all my markers.

I do not know what to do, My only hope at this point is to open source the problem and see if anyone has any ideas or contacts that I can use to get around before she kills us out of a love for rules and a profound disconnect from reality.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

DTSC Inspection

September 11, 2007

State of California
California Environmental Protection Agency
Department of Toxic Substances Control
700 Heinz Ave
Berkeley, CA 94710

RE: Summary of DTSC Violations
Alameda County Computer Resource Center
Inspection, August 15, 2007

Following is an objection to the Section I violation. Also enclosed are several documents supporting our corrective action on Section II violations as required by the Summary of Violations for the inspection of our facility on 8/15/07.

Section I
1.Violation: Alameda County Computer Resource Center (ACCRC) violated California Code of Regulations (Cal. Code Regs.), Title 22 (tit. 22), section 66273.35, subsections (c)(1) and (c) (2), in that on or about August 15, 2007 ACCRC failed to maintain an inventory onsite that identifies the date each UWED became a waste or was received. ACCC failed to demonstrate inventory for the universal wastes:
a.Stockpile that ACCRC claimed to be used by Aftermath Technologies.
b.Items that ACCRC claimed may be of value for the museum or collector items.
c.Other universal waste items in the room with computers and peripherals that may be of some use.
Compliance Action: ACCRC shall develop an inventory for all items set aside for possible use by Aftermath Technologies and for donation/development of a museum, etc. The inventory shall be submitted to Asha Arora C/o DTSC, 700 Heinz Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94710 within 30 days of receipt of this report. In addition, ACCRC shall ensure that those universal wastes are not accumulated onsite for longer than one year.


Objection: We dispute the definition of universal waste in this context.

a. Repurposable material is not waste.
b. Items of historic interest are not waste and disposing of them after one year would be destroying history for a short sighted bureaucratic requirement.
c. What does this mean? Please define.

As it is not waste, we dispute the requirement to inventory and dispose of non-waste.

Is it the intention of the DTSC to encourage destruction over reuse? We have neither staffing or funding to maintain an inventory. In addition we cannot come up with any logical argument that applies to this material that does not apply to the computers we refurbish and
charitably place. We fear that this interpretation on all our other reuses would eventually be applied to our computer refurbishment and therefore stop all reuse operations. As our primary goal is reuse and this inventory requirement would preclude reuse, is it the DTSC’s intention to close us down?

Also, we wonder if this rule is applied to any other organizations that do these functions for charitable purposes, such as Goodwill Industries? If not, why are we being singled out for this inventory issue? Is Goodwill required to get rid of their inventory after one year?

The material in question is not waste. In an effort to promote environmental responsibility, ACCRC demonstrates that one does not need to squander resources by buying new materials if more environmentally correct materials are available for reuse.

People bring their material to us because we contribute to the protection of our environment by making every effort to reuse any and all material first, before consigning them to the waste stream to be recycled. When items and material are donated to ACCRC, we first direct potential items/materials to either of our reuse departments (Computer Placement or Aftermath Technologies). If we determine at initial donation that the material has no current reuse potential, it is sent on to a recycler.

Aftermath Technologies is a project of ACCRC that is devoted to technological reuse. This department supplies material to other organizations for projects ranging from alternative energy to art. Examples include organizations like Make, the Shipyard, Greenpeace, the Crucible, the Exploratorium, many local schools and the Boy Scouts, who draw from Aftermath for various educational, environmental and artistic projects.

We also investigate reuse potential. Examples include making super-computers out of reutilized commodity hardware and converting our entire facility to run on waste vegetable oil, propane/methane powered vehicles, etc. All of these projects draw exclusively from what you call the waste stream. By conventional means these accomplishments would have cost tens of thousands of dollars and would be rendered impossible by this requirement.

Section II
1.Violation: Failed to provide training to all employees conducting treatment of UWEDs.
Compliance Action Completed: Following please find a copy of the training provided to employees who dismantle UWEDs. We have provided UWED training for Phil Fraser and James Burgett. Please see the following signed and dated “UWED Training Acknowledgement” forms and our UWED training module.

2. Violation: Failed to provide training to employees for CRT treatment (yoke removal).
Compliance Action Completed: We in fact did provide training, to our employees for CRT treatment (yoke removal). On 8/15/2007, I faxed signed copies of our “ACCRC Employee Safety Training Sign-in Sheet” indicating that both Diane Paulson and I (Ilma Willard) received CRT training on November 2nd & 3rd of 2006. On the next day’s followup meeting with Ms Arora, I showed her our ‘ACCRC CRT Training’ module upon her request. Ms Arora then decided that our training module, which had passed two prior inspections, was incomplete. We request that Ms. Arora explain what previous inspectors missed regarding our CRT training module so we can revise it to her specifications.

As we consider the Ms. Arora’s interpretations to be fundamentally flawed, we would like to formally request that we converse with a different DTSC inspector regarding these issues.

Thank you,
James Burgett