Hazardous Waste Handlers Feel Sick

Hazardous waste may be proving toxic to companies that handle it. On Sept. 30, WMX Technologies announced it would take a $550 million write-down in the third quarter and cut 1,200 jobs because of the flagging fortunes ofits hazardous-waste-disposal unit. Then on Oct. 4, Safety-Kleen, Elgin, Ill., announced an unspecified write-down and job cuts for the fourth quarter. Why? Chemical and other companies have cut their toxic output far faster than expected, and disposal prices collapsed. Analysts say growth in the hazardous-waste biz will be less than 10% a year vs. 20% in the 1980s.

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