‘Riddled’ With Mistakes

I haven’t the slightest idea why Gene Riddle didn’t properly dispose of thousands of gallons of hazardous waste from his long-defunct printed circuit board shop, but I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes today.

Riddle, who owned Riddle Inc. from 1972-1991, has been brought up on federal charges for failing to get permits for nearly 3,800 gallons of oxides, acids and other materials typical in PCB wet processing. After the plant closed, the waste materials allegedly were stored in a building that was falling apart. Worse, it was situated just a few hundred yards from a creek that was prone to flooding. The surging waters breached the building several times, leading the feds to slap Riddle with illegal discharge violations to boot.

It’s a cautionary tale not just for those who are in the PCB business, but those who are ever affiliated with it. Given the increasing number and depth of regulations that amplify the need to pay attention not just to what goes on under your roof but that of your suppliers’ as well, one wonders whether the dirty (and I mean dirty) little secret of how many emerging nations handle waste will come back to haunt the Western OEMs that so heavily depend on that part of the supply chain.