Photo by Art Torres
One of the most serious violations found at the battery recycling plant was the treatment of contaminated sludge in unauthorized tanks. Inspectors found the company has also failed to prevent spills, including battery acid.
The inspections by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) were part of the oversight of the Exide facility and its review of the company’s application for a hazardous waste permit.
“These violations represent our commitment to the community that we will keep a close watch on Exide and ensure the facility is in compliance with all pertinent laws,” said DTSC Deputy Director Elise Rothschild in a released statement.
Inspectors also notified Exide that immediate steps be taken to repair holes in walls and the roof to ensure that rain cannot enter the building.
Exide has 10 days to submit proof that the violations have been corrected. The facility faces potential fines and additional enforcement actions if it fails to comply.
Exide officials said the company is taking action to comply with all regulations and is committed to upgrading the Vernon facility.
Exide, which recycles lead from used automotive batteries and other sources, was forced to shut down last March. Community members and elected officials demanded the closure after a study found arsenic emissions from the plant posed an increased cancer risk to more than 100,000 people across southeast Los Angeles County.
Under an agreement with state regulators in November, Exide is paying to clean lead-tainted soil in surrounding neighborhoods in Maywood and Boyle Heights.
Before its forced closing, the plant recycled up to 41,000 batteries daily. The company is also in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings and under Federal criminal investigation.
Exide has applied for a full hazardous waste facility permit for storage and treatment of hazardous waste. The DTSC has until December 31, 2015 to make a decision on that permit.