High Levels of Lead Again Detected at Exide

By City News Service

Excessive levels of lead were detected in recent emissions from the much-debated Exide Technologies battery recycling plant in Vernon, air quality regulators announced.

According to the South Coast Air Quality Management District last week, lead emissions from the plant exceeded the allowable level of 0.15 micrograms per cubic meter – based on a 30-day rolling average – on March 22 and 23. AQMD also noted that emissions exceeded the allowable amount “by significant amounts” on several other days.

“Exide is currently shut down to conduct a number of repairs, replacements and additions to their plant,” according to an AQMD notice. “These activities have likely caused the exceedances.”

Exide officials said the company is working to determine the exact cause of the increased lead emissions, but said it appeared to be a result of ongoing construction work on upgrades at the plant.

“The facility was not operating when the reading occurred and it appears to be a construction-related incident as the plant is undergoing maintenance and upgrades,” according to John Hogarth, Exide plant manager.

The plant has been closed for about two weeks.

The Exide plant has been under close scrutiny by state and local regulators over the past year. The plant was forced to temporarily shut down last year due to arsenic emissions, and the AQMD sued the company in January alleging numerous air quality violations.

Residents living near Exide learned earlier this month from Department of Toxic Substances Control officials that higher-than-normal levels of lead were found in soil samples taken from the yards of 39 homes around the plant.

Los Angeles County public health officials will offer free blood lead screenings beginning April 7 for people who live, work or attend school near the plant.

The AQMD recently approved a plan by Exide to reduce arsenic emissions from the plant.

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April 3, 2014  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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