Exide Technologies, a Vernon battery recycling plant ordered to shut down in April for releasing dangerous levels of toxic pollutants, has been granted a temporary right to reopen.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Luis Lavin issued a temporary stay Monday for the order by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to suspend operations, citing that public interest will not suffer from Exide’s reopening.
The plant’s closure came one month after the South Coast Air Quality Management District ordered Exide to create a “risk reduction plan,” following a report that showed its production released high levels of arsenic emissions.
These emissions pose cancer risks for 110,000 residents in Boyle Heights, Maywood, Huntington Park, Commerce, Vernon and some areas of East L.A, according to DTSC. State regulators also found the plant had been leaking hazardous contaminants into the soil and air.
Since, Exide has filed for bankruptcy and challenged the closure in court earlier this month, denying each allegation set forth by the order of suspension.
After a three-day suspension hearing that could not be concluded, Judge Luis Lavin stated that the company could suffer irreparable harm from further delays.
The company’s lawyers also argued that keeping the plant closed would result in “continued unemployment for its workers and millions of dollars of economic damage to Exide,” reports the L.A. Times.
Fourteenth District Councilmember Jose Huizar disagreed with the court’s ruling saying, “I’m disappointed with the Superior Court’s ruling because it gives more credence to Exide’s relation with the DTSC, rather than Exide’s record and history with the communities it surrounds.”
The plant’s closure has affected more than two-thirds of Exide’s employees, many of which live in the affected communities.
The next hearing on the matter is scheduled for July 2.