Thursday, May 02, 2019

Battery recylcing plant failed to handle toxic materials IAW hazmat and EPA laws, and worse, used a trucking firm that also ignored decency, responsibility, and legal requirements for hazmat transportation

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to release $5.2 million for the ongoing lead contamination cleanup efforts stemming from the closed Exide battery recycling facility in the city of Vernon. The leak affected hundreds of thousands of people in parts of Southeast and East L.A. As of last year, only a few hundred of those homes had been cleaned by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control.

The Exide cleanup has so far been the largest environmental toxins cleanup in California history.

Until it was closed in 2015 after coming under investigation under the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Exide had been been spewing lead and arsenic particles from the facility’s smelters for decades – contaminating air, soil, and groundwater in Vernon, Boyle Heights, Commerce, Maywood, Huntington Park, Bell, and parts of East L.A. – and affecting hundreds of thousands of people

they negotiated a settlement with the U.S. Attorney and admitted to felony violations, they managed to avoid criminal liability for their actions, and got away with only having to put up $9 million for cleaning up houses around the facility over a five year period.

An estimated 10,000 homes, and hundreds of thousands of people, have been exposed to lead and arsenic pollution as a result of Exide’s activities.

hundreds of thousands of people, have been exposed to lead and arsenic pollution as a result of Exide’s activities. Exide disputes this – ignoring a plethora of studies of blood testings of community members showing high signs of lead levels in their blood.

The truck leakages have been going on for over 20 years — violating California's hazardous waste control law, in addition to public nuisance laws.

Boyle Heights resident Jose Gonzalez said contaminated trucks went through his neighborhood, leaving local families like his to deal with the aftermath.

His own nephew has developmental disabilities that he believes are a result of chemical exposure to the leakages.

"He's 32, but he'll always be 7," Gonzalez said, "and this is a scene that's played over time and time and time again in these neighborhoods."

As part of a new settlement agreement, Wiley Sanders Truck Lines will no longer be allowed to transport hazardous waste in the state. They'll also pay $1.8 million to L.A. County Department of Health for public outreach programs in affected neighborhoods, to resolve allegations it illegally trucked more than 128,000 pounds of lead-contaminated material from a former battery-recycling plant in Vernon to Kern County, county officials said Thursday.

County officials contend in a lawsuit that Wiley Sanders Truck Lines violated state hazardous-waste-handling regulations for years by hauling the contaminated plastic battery chips from the former Exide recycling plant to a facility in Bakersfield. The lawsuit contends the company failed to handle the material as hazardous waste.

After the plastic battery chips were rinsed with water in an attempt to remove the lead and other materials, they were loaded into the Wiley Sanders semi-trailers parked at the facility. Prosecutors said Wiley Sanders knew that the semi-trailers did not contain any lining or inner packaging material to prevent liquids and semi-solids from escaping through cracks and other openings in the trailers while they were traveling on public roads. On at least two occasions authorities spotted liquid dripping from the trailers and called hazmat responders to the scene.

“For decades, hard-working families were unaware that trucks leaving Exide’s facility illegally carried and leaked hazardous wastes into the community and endangered the health and safety of children and others,” County Supervisor Hilda Solis said. “It is unacceptable and a human rights violation that unsuspecting children and families at nearby schoolyards and parks were potentially exposed to these hazardous materials.”

“Exide admits that it knowingly and willfully caused the shipment of hazardous waste contaminated with lead and corrosive acid in leaking van trailers owned by Wiley Sanders Truck Line Inc. and operated by Lutrel Trucking Inc. and KW Plastics of California Inc., from the [Vernon] facility to Bakersfield, Calif., a significant number of times over the past two decades, in violation of federal law," the agreement between the U.S. Department of Justice and Exide Technologies Inc.


  1. And considering what is happening to the EPA under the current administration, it'll get even easier to get away with stuff like that.

    1. sorry, you'll have to aim your politics to the presidents that came before this one... like Obama for 8 years, and Bush 43 for 8 years before him... this pres was still making tv shows while all this toxic material was happening.

  2. What happened was in violation of existing laws passed by former administrations, and I'm blaming neither those or the current one for Exides crimes. I was just pointing out, that with the dismantling of the EPA, things are bound get worse.

    1. ah, yes, it's quite possible that without an EPA, things will possibly get worse. I'd like to direct your attention to a couple facts... you already admitted that what happened occurred when there WAS an EPA. So, to look at the corollary to that, when there was an EPA, it did nothing to stop this from happening, not for 20 years.
      So, tell me what good you think the EPA was doing, or don't. What good did the previous presidents do? What has this one done to undo their good? Oh, wait, they fucked up, and this one wasn't to blame. They had an EPA and allowed, by their politics and negligence, some terrible shit to go on.
      Sure the EPA meant something once. But that was a long time ago.
      But nothing for nothing, right? Nothing getting done, then they get paid nothing.
      Get rid of govt waste, and expense, and that is what they did. Got rid of a govt dept that was no longer doing what it was getting paid for.
      We American taxpayers have been calling for smaller govt for years, decades.
      We're fed up with govt getting in the way of logical things, and when they finally got rid of this dept, I was happy.
      Maybe someone someday will make an EPA that takes the big corporations to task and slams their leaders in prison for using greed to ruin our country, our reputation, and our environment. SO far, our govt hasn't done that to the rich bastards that know to donate to election campaigns.
      Do you know how many coal mining company owners have been convicted of negligence? Murder?
      How did the EPA deal with Gold King Mine tailings pond? That one that had been inert for about 90 years?
      Just 3 million gallons of toxic heavy metals that turned the Animas river yellow, when they knocked out the damn plug, and killed everything downriver for a decade or more, Polluting the river basin, the floodplain, the wells and the water table.
      Umm, you think without the EPA something will be worse?
      Care to speculate what that might be?
      How about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon?
      Whose fault was that? Yes, the govt, who let the oil company bastards police themselves, and decide for themselves if safety measures were adequate.
      Shall I go on? I can, I bet you know I can.
      I've got better things to do.
      Things in this world are already locked into a road to destruction, it seems every week a species becomes extinct.
      The EPA didn't prevent a single extinction. Nor has the UN.
      I'd like that money pit to be kicked off our damn coast too. If anyone wants those losers, they can give them a damn home.
      The IRS can take a damn powder too, they know what they owe us, and what some owe them, and it's all a damn computers job to figure out the taxes... we don't need a govt dept to do that, just a laptop.
      We've got 26 security agencies... why? Who the hell have they prevented from doing something lately? Boston bombing? Nope. New York on Sept 1st? Nope. San Berdoo? Again, nope. They can't prevent a damn school shooting.
      So, again, orad to destruction, the govt gave up on honest work for the better life for citizens, and just makes rich people richer. There are about 1200 billionaires in the USA alone. Just in the past 30 years, before that? Not even a dozen.
      If you want a better world, you either run a govt, or find someone who can't be bought, bribed, blackmailed, threatened, or convinced to stray from honest good work for the good of the people, and who is smart enough to know what that is.

  3. Any suggestions about how companies like Exide, the coal mining industry etc. best can be kept from breaking the laws?

    1. Yes, but not enough time to be an unpaid consultant. Lets leave it at the fact that we know the city, state, and fed govt have approved their business permit, OSHA has them covered, the local police could handle it, so could the county sheriff, and then there's the other policing agencies like the Marshals. At every complaint, over 20 years, there was someone who didn't stop the continuing illegal activity, probably by being paid off with a bribe. And then I'm always for self administered justice with a 45. Truck leaking toxic waste ain't passing through no where with flat tires, a couple holes in the radiator, etc. Things get mighty interesting after that. Just like Tianamen Square, one person can stop a damn convoy of tanks, and the world WILL take notice of an atrocity that one person set out to stop. See what I mean? Or, just head to the local courtroom, and file a case against the companies involved

  4. I dont think that battery plant is nowhere near the most polluted location in Cali
    and I guess that why most industry has moved to mexico and china, to move the contamination somewhere else.

    I did some work at the port in Biloxi MS and they regularly shipped raw plastic across the gulf to a plant in mexico to be processed and then back to the states to be finished.
    I think the Navy has spent TWO BILLION trying to decon radioactive shipyards at Hunters Point in San Francisco
    the fed gov themselves have created most of the contaminated sites in the country
    every military base or ammo factory is heavily contaminated, parts of the old ammo factory in chattanooga Tennessee is so contaminated, its fenced off and abandoned. looks like a sci-fi movie, buildings , roads and traffic lights that have been overgrown with bushes and trees, gas stations, restaurants, everything that comprised a small town on the base, all overgrown, and contaminated so bad that it cant ever be cleaned up.

    lead isnt that big if a deal, as long as kids dont eat it.

    and not too hard to clean up, arsenic is a different story, google "arsenic fort vally georgia"
    the entire town in contaminated.
    and google
    "Velsicol Hardeman county tennessee' if you wanna read about comtaminated sites.
    they buried 300,000 fifty-five gallon drums containing DDT and carbon tetra-chloride and the feds fined them $7 Million, and that was it.
    how much did the feds fine Volkswagen for not polluting at all?
    no one has died from the VW software cheating thing, people died in Hardeman county tennessee from Velsicol dumping chemicals there.

    part of the blame for the deepwater Horizon spill was on the feds.
    if the feds would have allowed drilling closer to shore in shallow water, this wouldnt have happened, but no one wants wells close to shore, where its much easier and safer to drill because youre not doing everything with robots one mile down under the water.

  5. i dont think that battery plant is anywhere near the most contaminated site in Cali.

    the Hunters Point navy yard is radioactive and the navy has spent almost TWO BILLION trying to decon it.

    and lead isnt that big of a deal as long as kids dont eat it, it poses very little danger.

    you wanna see some contaminated sites, google "arsenic fort valley georgia"
    or "velsicol hardeman county tennessee" the velsicol company, who is still in business and has contaminated every site they have ever touched, buried 300,000 fifty-five gallon drums of DDT and carbon tetra-chloride there, and was fined only $7 Million and walked away.

    how much was volkswagen fined for their software scandal, $4 BILLION ? and some people may do jail time? and no one has died as a direct result of VW, several people died in Hardeman county from being poisoned by Velsicol's chemical dumping.
    yet the feds did nothing to punish anyone.

    the fed gov themselves have created most of the contaminated sites in the US, the former army ammunition factory in Chattanooga Tennessee is so contaminated parts of it can never be cleaned up and its fenced off and abandoned. a really creepy place , like a scene from a sci-fi movie, streets, stores, gas stations, houses, all abandoned and overgrown with bushes and trees.

    1. I wasn't posting about the most contaminated sites
      I posted about a trucking company that ignored the very well know hazmat laws that they are supposed to be aware of, trained on, and checked on.
      I don't post about how bad the EPA let us down, I post about how bad people let us down when it relates to transportation though