In the soft morning light, the silver-gray mountain of electronic trash did not look especially hazardous. But it was.
Amid the printers and keyboards, fax machines and coffee makers was enough lead, cadmium and other toxic material to poison California watersheds for centuries.
"This is the problem," said Jim Taggart, president of ECS Refining in Santa Clara, Calif., where the e-waste was waiting to be safely recycled. "This is the material that most people are exporting. They'll get paid five to 10 cents a pound for shoving it in a container and shipping it overseas."
Five years after California launched an ambitious effort to control pollution from electronic waste, much of its e-waste is being shipped overseas, where it is contributing to a legacy of pollution and disease, a Sacramento Bee investigation has found.