State Finds Exide Permit Application Lacking
Battery recycler says it will amend and re-submit.
By City News Service
An operating-permit application submitted to state regulators by the Exide battery-recycling plant in Vernon was deemed to be deficient Tuesday, and company officials must amend the application within 30 days or potentially lose their ability to handle hazardous materials at the site.
The deficiency notice from the state Department of Toxic Substances Control is the latest trouble to arise for the Exide plant, which has been under fire from state and local regulators for more than a year. DTSC also sent the company deficiency notices in 2011 and 2012.
“Exide Technologies has had three chances to submit a complete permit application that demonstrates the company can safely operate and close the facility, and each time Exide has fallen short,” DTSC Acting Director Miriam Barcellona Ingenito said.
Thomas Strang, vice president of environmental health and safety at Exide, said the company will amend its application.
“Exide is committed to working collaboratively with the department to provide the additional information required to complete the permit application on a timely basis,” Strang said.
DTSC came under heavy criticism last year when it revealed that the battery recycling plant has been operating under a temporary permit for 32 years, and is the only facility in the state not fully permitted. The department has stepped up enforcement of the plant amid concerns that emissions of arsenic and lead from the plant have created a health crisis for people living or working near the site.
Located at 2700 S. Indiana St., Exide is one of only two lead-acid battery recycling plants west of the Rockies. In operation since 1922, the plant recycled 23,000 to 41,000 batteries daily until it closed in mid-March to install equipment upgrades aimed at reducing air emissions to meet state and local requirements.
Under pressure from state regulators and neighboring communities, Exide recently appointed Strang to help lead the installation of the emission-control equipment, and named Charles Giesige as the company’s new vice president of recycling operations. Strang and Giesige “will develop policies and programs to enhance environmental compliance,” according to Exide.
According to the DTSC, Exide’s permit application failed to provide cost estimates to ensure the company could safely clean the site after it closed. It also failed to describe the amount of lead-contaminated waste that will need to be removed from the site if the factory is shuttered permanently, either of its own accord or by state regulators, in the future.
The application also did not include a safety assessment of waste tanks — including some that could overflow during an earthquake — and failed to describe all rooms where waste is handled, according to the state.
The battery plant has been targeted by area air-quality regulators for more than a year. 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.
In May, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that the plant violated federal limits on lead emissions on more than 30 occasions between September and April, even as the company was closed for construction. Exide officials said recent emission troubles were the result of the construction going on at the site to upgrade the facility.
According to Exide, its operations are “critical” to the environment because battery recycling keeps toxic materials out of landfills, which promotes environmental sustainability. Used batteries that are not recycled become hazardous waste, the company said.
Exide said it will spend more than $5 million on upgrades at the Vernon facility over the next two years, bringing its total investment since 2010 to more than $20 million.Print This Post
June 19, 2014 Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.