- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 12, 2012

More glass tubes at bankrupt solar panel maker Solyndra LLC are headed for the scrap heap.

Attorneys for the company filed papers in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware last week asking for a court order to dispose of up to 3,900 pallets filled with glass tubes that were used to make Solyndra’s solar panels. The lawyers said the company tried to auction the tubes, return them to a supplier and sell the material to recycling companies.

But it was too expensive to ship back to the supplier and nobody seemed interested in buying the glass, the attorneys said in court papers.

Unable to sell the assets, Solyndra said it would be cheaper just to abandon the glass to a recycler who would dispose of it for free. The company had already had permission to abandon 3,100 pallets based on a similar motion filed in the bankruptcy case.

The motion attracted no attention until last month when a television news crew shot video of Solyndra workers destroying glass tubes. Several Republican House members expressed outrage at the footage of millions of dollars in glass tubes being tossed out. Solyndra has been the focus of a congressional investigation into a $535 million federal loan guarantee it received before going bankrupt last year.

When the company sought permission recently to destroy up to another 3,900 pallets of glass, creditors, including attorneys for the federal government, filed no objection, according to court papers filed last week. In seeking to abandon even more glass, Solyndra attorneys called the assets “of inconsequential value and benefit,” arguing the cost to return or resell the glass exceeds its value.

News of the destruction of the glass tubes first surfaced last month after a report by CBS 5 News, a San Francisco area television station that made video of workers in jumpsuits unwrapping glass tubes and tossing them into a large trash bin.

The destruction of the tubes occurred around the same time the company sought to pay out bonuses to nearly two dozen Solyndra employees.

Bankruptcy records show the company has asked for permission to pay bonuses of up to $50,000 to several unnamed key employees. The request prompted dozens of members of Congress to send a letter to the White House opposing the payouts.

But company attorneys said the money would help persuade the workers to stay in their jobs because replacing them with outside consultants would be even more expensive to the bankruptcy estate. The bonus plan has not yet been approved by the bankruptcy court.

• Jim McElhatton can be reached at jmcelhatton@washingtontimes.com.

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