Los Angeles News

Proposal calls for tougher toxic air controls at battery recycling plants

Friday, January 10, 2014

The South Coast Air Quality Management District's governing board is considering a new proposal that would involve adopting tougher controls for toxic air contaminants from local lead-acid battery recycling plants.

The decision could impact the quality of the air near Exide Technologies in Vernon and Quemetco in Industry.

The State Department of Toxic Substances Control found that Exide has been releasing cancer causing arsenic into the air for years.

It posed a health cancer risk to over 100,000 people living in the communities stretching from Huntington Park to Boyle Heights.

The Exide facility's deteriorated pipes were also leaking water potentially contaminated with hazardous wastes into the soil below the facility.

As a result, the state ordered Exide, which has filed for bankruptcy, to set aside $7.7 million in a special fund to pay for the cleanup.

As of now, lead emission tests conducted by the L.A. County Health Department are averaged over a three-month period. The new proposal suggests calculating lead emission tests month-to-month, making it tougher to meet the requirements.

According to the proposal, Quemetco has made the necessary upgrades, and its lead emissions are up-to-code.

Exide says it will cost the company more than $30 million to make the necessary upgrades.

The manufacturer released the following statement Friday: Exide is making significant investments to upgrade the recycling facility, comply with regulatory limits and protect public health. Those investments are already paying off with arsenic emmissions being reduced by 95 percent plant wide. The company generally supports the new rule for arsenic that SCAQMD is considering today and believes that it will be able to achieve the new limit if the SCAQMD approves Exide's recently submitted new operational plan."

SCAQMD officials will further discuss the proposal during a meeting scheduled for Friday at 9 a.m.

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