Exide Technologies, a battery manufacturer and recycler in Vernon that was previously ordered to halt work after arsenic emissions were found around their plant, has been allowed to resume operations after a Superior Court judge issued a restraining order Monday against the state’s toxics management agency.
The order issued by Superior Court Judge Luis A. Lavin lifts the suspension of operations at Exide Technologies, 2700 S. Indiana St., issued in April by the Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC), pending an upcoming hearing.
The department alleged that “metal bearing” waste is leaking from underground pipes at Exide Technologies and the continued operation of the plant would be unsafe.
“We are disappointed that the Superior Court granted Exide’s application for a temporary restraining order,” said DTSC’s Tamma Adamek.
The agency will return to court on July 2 to try to gain a preliminary injunction to resume its suspension of Exide, Adamek said.
Exide representatives were not immediately available for comment.
Los Angeles Councilman Jose Huizar criticized the decision.
“The criteria for Exide reopening should be based solely on whether it is safe to do so and whether the public is at risk or not,” Huizar said.
A month before the state agency ordered Exide to cease operations, the South Coast Air Quality Management District cited the company for discharging arsenic, affecting nearby businesses, as well as neighboring communities in Commerce, Maywood and Huntington Park.
Boyle Heights is part of Huizar’s council district and within an area of about 110,000 residents that could also have been affected by arsenic pollution.
“While I still have serious questions about why Exide was allowed to operate by the DTSC under an interim permit for more than three decades, we have to first and foremost protect the people who are living in the surrounding communities right now,” Huizar said.
“Stringent requirements need to be part of ensuring that safety. I’m disappointed with the Superior Court’s ruling because it gives more credence to Exide’s relation with the DTSC, rather than Exide’s record and history with the communities it surrounds.”
The Los Angeles City Council in May approved a resolution backing an investigation into Exide and called on DTSC to ensure the company upgrades its wastewater pipes that the state agency alleged were leaking arsenic.
The Vernon plant recycles 22 million automotive batteries a year and has been operating in Vernon since the 1920s. Exide, a publicly traded company with operations in 80 countries, took over operations about 10 years ago.