Thursday, March 12, 2015

Newsflash: Exide batteries criminally guilty, forced to shut down Los Angeles recycling plant for 90 years gross toxicity pollution

Under a deal between federal officials and the company, Exide acknowledges criminal conduct, including the illegal storage and transportation of hazardous waste.

    “The reign of toxic lead ends today,” acting U.S. Atty. Stephanie Yonekura said Thursday. “After more than nine decades of ongoing lead contamination in the city of Vernon, neighborhoods can now start to breathe easier.”

the immediate closure of the battery recycling facility and Exide’s direct costs of compliance are well in excess of $100 million

A 2013 report released by the South Coast Air Quality Management District found that Exide's arsenic emissions endangered the health of 110,000 people who live near the plant.

Over decades of operation, the facility has polluted the soil beneath it with high levels of lead, arsenic, cadmium and other toxic metals, according to state environmental records. It has also fouled groundwater, released battery acid onto roads and contaminated homes and yards in surrounding communities with lead emissions.

The Georgia-based company, one of the world's largest lead-acid battery recyclers and manufacturers, is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy and has filed plans to to emerge as a reorganized company.

Since 2012, the company has closed or halted lead recycling operations in Pennsylvania and Texas in the face of pressure from regulators and surrounding residents.

Exide will be held to an agreement made last fall with state regulators that requires the company to set aside $38.6 million for closure and cleanup of the facility and to place $9 million in a trust fund to clean lead-tainted soil from surrounding homes.

The Vernon plant, which can melt tens of thousands of car batteries a day to provide a source of lead for new batteries, has sat idle for the last year because it could not comply with air quality standards.

The facility had been allowed to operate for decades with only a temporary permit from the state Department of Toxic Substances Control.

The facility has operated in Vernon since 1922 and was taken over by Exide in 2000. The company has repeatedly been cited for violations of environmental regulations by state and local officials in recent years.

A report released last year disclosed that concentrations of lead in excess of 80 parts per million (ppm) were found in the yards of 39 homes. Eighty ppm is deemed a "screening" threshold.

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