Photo by Art Torres
Photo by Art Torres
Photo by Art Torres

A Vernon battery recycling plant cut production Thursday morning after unacceptable levels of lead were detected for the third time in 12 months.

Air monitoring systems at Exide Technologies last week read lead levels exceeding limits by the South Coast Air Quality Management District, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Last March, a study showed the plant was releasing arsenic emissions, posing a cancer risk to 110,000 residents in Southeast Los Angeles, including Boyle Heights.

Although the plant was shut down temporarily due to health risks, a judge allowed the company to continue operations. Since the findings, the recycling giant has agreed to follow through with plans to reduce its cancer causing emissions. However, the air district continues efforts to temporarily shut down the plant until it improves its air pollution control systems.

A number of public hearings have been conducted by the SCAQMD recently””with an additional hearing scheduled for later this month”” where local leaders, residents and workers have expressed their concerns over the future of Exide.

On Friday, the SCAQMD’s governing board voted 10-0 to adopt strict new limits for emissions of arsenic and other toxic air contaminants from the region’s two lead-acid battery recycling plants, Exide Technologies in Vernon and Quemetco in the City of Industry. The two facilities will be required to meet strict emission limits for arsenic, benzene and 1,3-butadiene. All three toxic compounds are known to cause cancer.

“These measures will further strengthen the toughest air pollution rule in the nation for lead-acid battery plants,” said SCAQMD’s Governing Board Chairman William A. Burke, in a statement.

Efforts have also been aimed at reviewing oversight by the Department of Toxic Substances Control.

The state Senate’s Environmental Quality recently scheduled a Jan. 15 hearing on the DTSC’s permitting, enforcement and tracking of hazardous waste operations in California. While multiple senators in Los Angeles County have introduced bills posing new requirements for the department and for all hazardous waste facilities in the state.

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