Exide Files Health Risk Report With Regulators

By City News Service

Adhering to an agreement with the state, operators of the Exide battery-recycling plant in Vernon submitted a report to regulators Monday assessing health and ecological risks of the plant.

The Human Health and Ecological Risk Assessment was submitted to the state Department of Toxics and Substance Control as part of an agreement reached in October between the company and the state.

According to Exide, the report is generally used to help regulators decide what, if any, remedial actions may be needed at the plant.

The Exide plant, which has been the target of air-quality regulators for months, has been shuttered since mid-March as upgrades are made to the operation.

“Protecting the health of Exide’s employees and community members is of the utmost importance to us,” said Thomas Strang, Exide’s vice president of environmental health and safety. “The company will work collaboratively with regulatory agencies and the community on reaching an agreement on an appropriate level of cleanup in the area, even if that means doing more than what the assessment and health science suggests.”

Last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that the plant violated federal limits on lead emissions on more than 30 occasions between September and April. It was the latest trouble to hit the facility. Testing earlier this year found elevated levels of lead in the yards of 39 homes near the plant. 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.

The battery recycling plant has been operating under a temporary permit from the state Department of Toxic Substances Control for the past 32 years and is the only facility left in the state that has not been fully permitted, DTSC officials said last year.

The firm at 2700 S. Indiana St. is one of only two lead-acid battery recycling plants west of the Rockies. In operation since 1922, the plant recycles 23,000 to 41,000 batteries daily.

Exide officials have said some recent elevated emissions were likely the result of construction work being done at the plant to install upgraded equipment. Company officials have said they have agreed to invest more than $5 million in the plant over the next two years, bringing the firm’s total investment to more than $20 million since 2010, and reducing arsenic emissions by 95 percent.

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June 5, 2014  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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