Panel to Impose Strict Pollution Standards on Battery Plant

Last year a SCAQMD assessment found that the facility was a health risk to thousands of residents because of arsenic emissions

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    NEWSLETTERS

    KNBC-TV
    Exide plant recycled 23,000 to 41,000 batteries daily when it operated.

    Regulators on Wednesday mulled over a plan aimed at cutting toxic pollution from battery maker Exide Technologies, which some residents in a Southern California city blame for health problems.

    The Hearing Board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District considered proposed operating conditions on the Vernon facility, which has agreed to stay closed until it completes upgrades on its air pollution control systems.

    A public hearing went on for approximately four hours Wednesday. Air quality regulators will decide Thursday whether Exide's plan to reduce emissions from its plant will be approved.

    If regulators approve the plan, Exide Technologies could be fully operational by the end of the year.

    The battery plant has been the focus of complaints for months that it leaks toxic chemicals endangering communities.

    Last year an air quality report found the facility was a health risk to thousands of residents due to arsenic emissions from the plant.

    In March, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control discovered elevated levels of lead were discovered in the soil of 39 homes and two schools around the Vernon plant, which has been closed since March.

    The AQMD sued Exide for $40 million in January, claiming its Vernon plant exposed people to arsenic and other cancer-causing chemicals.

    Exide officials have said that they've spent more than $20 million to improve the plant and expects to spend another $5 million under the new plan to further reduce air pollution.

    Barry Wallerstein, AQMD's executive officer, said in a statement that the plan Wednesday was to "protect public health."

    Exide, which makes batteries for vehicles and also provides stored electrical energy services for industrial applications, runs 13 manufacturing locations in the United States and 74 branches through North America.

    Samia Khan contributed to this report.

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